JOVM’s William Ruben Helms belatedly celebrates Simon Le Bon’s 64th birthday.
With the release of singles like “Pieces” and “House of Smith” which have amassed over 150,000 Spotify streams combined, the rising, Newcastle-based indie electro pop duo NOPRISM — Andrew Young and Mark Nelson — have quickly and firmly established a sound that’s indebted to mid-to-late 80s New Wave and house music. “Pieces” and “House of Smith” have received airplay on BBC Music Introducing and have been playlisted by XS Manchester’s Evening Show — and adding to a growing profile, “Happiness” was championed by Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon and featured on E4’s Made in Chelsea.
Continuing on the momentum of last year, the duo begin 2021 with “Pantherbeat,’ an arena friendly club banger, centered around aggressive synth arpeggios, punchy and thumping beats and a rousingly anthemic hook. Certainly, if you’re a child of the 80s, “Pantherbeat” will bring nostalgic longing for Dead or Alive, New Order, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, and others — but while possessing a slick, modern production.
“’Pantherbeat,’ is actually the first song written by the band when we first began writing last year, and now feels like the right time to release it,” NOPRISM’s Andrew Young explains in press notes. “It’s main lyric ‘You’ve gotta have faith’ sounds pretty apt right now, even though it wasn’t an intentional statement. It’s about the onset of a headrush… when the next high is about to kick in, or when the needle is about to drop on a big record. That brief moment of expectation and euphoria.”
Centered around gorgeous and cinematically shot black and white footage shot by Russian videographer Cottonbro, the recently released video for “Pantherbeat” follows a lean and tattooed boxer training for a big fight with a monastic-like dedication.In a surreal and feverish twist, the big fight turns into a pulsating night club — with the spectators, including bored family and friends dancing to the thumping banger while the two boxers fight. “We’ve used his [Cottonbro’s] footage for each release so far as it has a strange otherworldly feel to it, and we take multiple clips to piece together some kind of loose story which is told alongside the song. The videos have very much become part of the aesthetic of each release.”
Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jonny Couch. Couch initially began his music career as a drummer, who played in a number of local punk bands before completely reinventing himself and his music career with 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to the legendary Bryan Ferry while receiving praise from Louder Than War and High Times.
Last year saw the release of Couch’s Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man, an effort that found the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay further establishing a sound that’s indebted to and influenced by power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch said in press notes. But he goes on to explain that his solo work is deeply influenced by Nick Lowe with elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs.
Couch closes out 2020 with his latest single “Hideaway.” Released earlier this month, the single simultaneously marks the first bit of new, original material from the JOVM mainstay since the release of Mystery Man while continuing upon the synth-pop, power pop and New Wave-inspired sound that won him attention across the blogosphere. Featuring shimmering A Flock of Seagulls-like shimmering synths, twinkling keys, four-on-the-floor and the sort of anthemic hook that Phil Collins would love, “Hideaway” is a sweet love song centered around a classic pop trope: the desire to be in a sort of protective cocoon with your love, far from the madding crowd.
JOVM celebrates Nile Rodgers’ 68th birthday.
Seattle-based indie electro pop act Jupe Jupe, which features My Young (vocals, synths), Bryan Manzo (guitar, bass, sax), Patrick Partington (guitar) and Jarrod Arbini (drums, percussion) have released four albums since their formation 2010 — Invaders, Reduction in Drag, Crooked Kisses, and Lonely Creatures — that have firmly established their sound: an infectious, dance floor friendly sound influenced by post-punk, synth pop and Americana. Adding to a growing profile, the act has collaborated with the likes of The Afghan Whigs‘ Rick G. Nelson, Lusine, Mike Simonetti, Erik Blood and a number of others on their remix album Cut Up Kisses.
Released earlier this year, the Seattle-based quartet’s Matt Bayles-produced Nightfall EP was recorded at Seattle-based Studio Litho and continues their ongoing collaboration with Bayles, who produced and engineered their last album. Meticulously written over the course of a year, the five song EP features five hook-driven upbeat yet simultaneously melancholy songs that thematically focuses on yearning and desire — with the addition of a saxophone to their sound.
Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the shimmering, New Order-like “Leave You Lonely,” a decidedly ambitious and cinematic pop confection that expresses an aching yearning. Centered around a sinuous bass line, four-on-the floor drumming, shimmering synth arpeggios, plaintive vocals, an anthemic hook, and a mournful saxophone line, “How Could We Both Be In Love” continues a run of brooding yet disco-tinged pop confections. But unlike its immediate predecessor, the track sonically manages to bring Avalon-era Roxy Music and Duran Duran to mind while evoking late night, noir-ish vibes. The recently released video by Dirty Sidewalks’ Erik Foster is an incredibly stylish and moody visual that nods at French nouvelle vague and 80s MTV.
Last month, I wrote about the Seattle-based indie rock act Moon Palace. The act which is led by twin sisters Cat (guitar, vocals) and Carrie Biell (bass, vocals) and joined by Jude Miqueli (drums) and Darcey Zoller (cello, synth) can trace some of their origins back to the unique musical bond the Biell Sisters cultivated as the children of deaf parents. And with the release of 2017’s self-titled full-length debut, the band drew comparisons to JOVM mainstays to Beach House and Warpaint, as they crafted hook-driven material centered around sometimes discordant guitars and gorgeous dual harmonies. Along with receiving praise from the likes of City Arts Magazine and KEXP, Moon Palace has shared stages with Thunderpussy, Y La Bamba and Sera Cahoone among others.
Thematically, the Seattle-based quartet’s recently released sophomore album Shadowcast finds a balance between light and dark. “Shadow self and trying to be positive through interactions with people you love,” the members of the band elaborate in press notes. “Outer world to the innermost personal world. Balancing the sun sign and moon sign. Knowing your inner personal self within the context of the universe.” Throughout the recording sessions, band members would text each other songs by Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Duran Duran and Big Thief, all of which inspired and shaped the album’s sound and overall aesthetic.
Now, as you may recall I wrote about the shimmering, Beach House-like “Who You Are,” a track found the band effortlessly balancing intimate emotions within an atmospheric and cinematic song. At its core, the song focused on navigating difficult and uneasy relationships and questioning whether the other is showing their true self or not. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Bold” is a dance-floor friendly take on shoegaze, centered around a propulsive, disco-like bass line, shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths ethereal vocals and a soaring hook — but as the band’s Cat Biell explains the song harkens back to that “nostalgic feeling to a time when you felt more care free.” And as a result, the song is imbued with a bittersweet air.
The recently released video by Elope Productions stars Loren Othón and Georgia Maxine, who contribute expressive and contemplative dance movements in a variety of different settings including a verdant field, urban rooftops and parking lots, which also helps to emphasize the nostalgia within the song.
Led by twin sisters Cat (guitar, vocals) and Carrie Biell (bass, vocals) and joined by Jude Miqueli (drums) and Darcey Zoller (cello, synth), the Seattle-based indie rock act Moon Palace can trace some of its origins back to the unique musical bond the Biell Sisters cultivated as the children of Deaf parents. Interestingly, with release of 2017’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of the Seattle-based band drew comparisons to Beach House and Warpaint, as they crafted hook-driven material centered around sometimes discordant guitars and gorgeous dual harmonies. Along with receiving praise from the likes of City Arts Magazine and KEXP, Moon Palace has shared stages with Thunderpussy, Y La Bamba and Sera Cahoone among others.
Slated for an August 23, 2019 release, the band’s soon-to-be released album Shadowcast thematically finds a balance between light and dark. “Shadow self and trying to be positive through interactions with people you love,” the members of the band elaborate in press notes. “Outer world to the innermost personal world. Balancing the sun sign and moon sign. Knowing your inner personal self within the context of the universe.” Throughout the recording sessions, band members would text each other songs by Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Duran Duran and Big Thief, all of which inspired and shaped the album’s sound and overall aesthetic.
Interestingly, Shadowcast‘s second and latest single “Who You Are” is a shimmering and contemplative song that finds the band effortlessly balancing intimate emotions within an atmospheric and cinematic sound featuring shimmering and slashing guitars, gorgeously ethereal vocals, a soaring hook and driving rhythm section. And while bearing a resemblance to Beach House, the song possesses an uncertain and uneasy air, as it focuses on navigating difficult relationships and questioning whether the other person is showing their true self or not.
Initially starting his career as a drummer in a number of local punk rock bands, the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jonny Couch reinvented himself and his career with the release of 2016’s debut EP Animal Instinct, a soulful take on 80s synth pop that drew comparisons to Bryan Ferry — and received praise from Louder Than War and High Times.
Building upon a growing profile, Couch’s highly-anticipated Peter Mavrogeorgis-produced full-length debut Mystery Man will reportedly further develop the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s reputation for crafting infectious material that’s seemingly descended from 70s and 80s power pop and New Wave. “My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks,” Couch says in press notes, “but this is more of a personal record than a band effort, highly influenced by power pop solo artists like Nick Lowe.” But there’s also elements of Duran Duran and The Psychedelic Furs as well.
Coincidentally, Couch’s forthcoming full-length debut is also deeply influenced by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s love of classic film noir — in particular, films like Body Heat and Body Double. In fact, the album is centered by deep film-noir metaphors, from the album’s title, its artwork and even song titles like ” Vertigo” “Framed” and others.
Mystery Man’s latest single, album title track “Mystery Man” is a sleek, Roxy Music meets No Jacket Required-era Phil Collins -like track centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering and angular guitars, a motorik-like groove, a soaring hook and Couch’s plaintive vocals. And while revealing an ambitious, arena rock-like populist bit of songwriting, the track is underpinned by an earnest sense of late night loneliness and longing.
Directed by Art Boonparn, the recently released video stars Couch, Audrey Cover and Sara Nelson and begins in a dark Brooklyn bar during karaoke night. We first catch a band singing Journey’s smash hit “Don’t Stop Believing” — poorly. Kovar and Nelson follow the man singing Couch’s “Mystery Man.” Couch is there the entire time, in the background, but as he leaves the bar, he turns into his alter-ego, a fedora wearing noir-like detective, collecting clues. We then see Couch, along with Kovar and Nelson perfuming the song in a house party full of hipsters and characters. It’s trippy but it reveals Couch’s good-natured, mischievous sense of humor.
OctFest 2018 Preview
Last year, Pitchfork, one of the premier music websites; October, a beer culture-centric website that aims to capture the spirit, ambition, making and drinking of the precious and beloved stuff through essays, travelogues and events; and Bon Appetit, the award-winning food lifestyle brand teamed up for what may arguably be one of the most unique festivals I’ve come across in some time: OctFest, a beer, music and food festival. 2018’s edition of OctFest, which will take place on Governor’s Island on September 8, 2018 and September 9, 2018 will feature a food lineup curated by Bon Appetit , a music lineup curated by Pitchfork that will include Vince Staples, The Flaming Lips and dozens of other music acts, 90+ craft breweries from all around the world – and with arguably some of the most gorgeous views of Manhattan you’ll see in your life.
So let’s talk a bit about each aspect of the festival, huh?
The food program is centered around a Food Village that will offer a number of New York-based quick-serve staples including the Mission Chinese Food, Roberta’s Pizza, Oddfellows Ice Cream Co, Sweet Chick, the STUF’D Truck, Cervo’s, Best Pizza, Oakland, CA-based KronnerBurger and many others preparing specialties to compliment the domestic and international craft beer being sampled. (Check out the full lineup below.)
Curated by Bon Appétit
Hank’s Juicy Beef
Los Viajeros Food Truck
Mission Chinese Food
Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.
OctFest will be hosting 90 breweries from 20 different countries, pouring more than 250 varieties of award-winning craft beer. Several breweries will be making their New York City debut, including Wicked Weed Brewing, DC Brau, Wedge Brewing Co, Four Peaks Brewing Co, Wild Beer Co., and Karbach Brewing, Co. (Check out the full lineup below.)
North America – West
10 Barrel Brewing Co. (Bend, OR)
Austin Eastciders (Austin, TX)
Breckenridge Brewery (Littleton, CO)
Elysian Brewing Company (Seattle, WA)
FiftyFifty Brewing Company (Truckee, CA)
Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Four Peaks Brewing Co. (Tempe, AZ)
Golden Road Brewing (Los Angeles, CA)
Goose Island Beer Co. (Chicago, IL)
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (Dexter, MI)
Karbach Brewing Co. (Houston, TX)
Kona Brewing Company (Kailua-Kona, HI)
Live Oak (Austin, TX)
Monkless Belgian Ales (Bend, OR)
On Tour Brewing Company (Chicago, IL)
Rogue Ales (Newport, OR)
The Shop Beer Co. (Tempe, AZ)
Virtue Cider (Fennville, MI)
North America – East
Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY)
Brasserie Archibald (Canada)
Braven Brewing Company (Brooklyn, NY)
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY)
Brickworks Cider (Canada)
Circa Brewing Co. (Brooklyn, NY)
Cisco Brewers (Nantucket, MA)
Collective Arts Brewing (Canada)
DC Brau (Washington, D.C.)
Devils Backbone Brewing Company (Roseland, VA)
Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD)
Hanging Hills Brewing Company (Hartford, CT)
Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers (Framingham, MA)
Keegan Ales (Kingston, NY)
Lamplighter Brewing Co. (Cambridge, MA)
LIC Beer Project (Long Island City, NY)
Lord Hobo Brewing Company (Woburn, MA)
M.I.A. Beer Company (Doral, FL)
Microbrasserie Gainsbourg (Canada)
Mill Street Brewery (Canada)
Narragansett Brewing Company (Pawtucket, RI)
Sand City Brewing Co. (Northport, New York)
Springdale (Framingham, MA)
Stanley Park Brewing (Canada)
Sunday Beer Co. (Brooklyn, NY)
The Bronx Brewery (Bronx, NY)
Veza Sur Brewing Co. (Miami, FL)
Wicked Weed Brewing (Asheville, NC)
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery (Burlington, VT)
Aktien Brewery of Kaufbeuren (Germany)
Birra del Borgo (Italy)
Brasserie La Binchoise (Belgium)
Brouwerij Bosteels (Belgium)
Brouwerij DeKroon (Belgium)
Camden Town Brewery (UK)
Hertog Jan (Netherlands)
La Virgen (Spain)
Laugar Brewery (Spain)
Wild Beer Co (UK)
Bogota Beer Co (Colombia)
Cervecería Urbana (Mexico)
Cervecería Wendlandt (Mexico)
Cerveza Patagonia (Argentina)
Lohn Bier (Brazil)
Melas Beer (Colombia)
Nicaragua Craft Beer Co. (Nicaragua)
Asia, Africa, Oceania
Bira 91 (India)
4 Pines Brewing Company (Australia)
Balter Brewing Co (Australia)
Boxing Cat Brewery (China)
Cape Brewing Co. (South Africa)
Good George (New Zealand)
Newlands Spring Brewing Company (South Africa)
Pirate Life Brewing (Australia)
Playground Brewery (South Korea)
Taihu Brewery (Taiwan)
The Hand & Malt Brewery (South Korea)
While I’ll definitely have interest in the food and beer, my primary interest is the music and I’m looking most forward to catching sets from the following:
Saturday, September 8
Vince Staples: Staples is a 25 year-old, North Long Beach, CA-born and-based emcee and actor, who first rose to prominence as member of hip-hop collective Odd Future, which also featured Mike G, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler The Creator – and the collaborative Mac Miller-produced Stolen Youth mixtape. October 2014 saw the release of his solo debut EP, Hell Can Wait, which included attention grabbing singles “Hands Up” and “Blue Suede.”
Building upon a growing profile, Staples’ full-length debut 2015’s Summertime ’06 was released to critical applause – with Staples being featured as part of XXL’s 2015 Freshman Class. Staples’ critically acclaimed sophomore album, 2017’s Big Fish Theory found the acclaimed, young emcee expanding upon his sound as the album’s production incorporated avant-garde, dance and electronic influences. Additionally, Staples’ made a guest appearance on Gorillaz’s latest effort Humanz.
Staples is headlining Saturday night and I’m looking forward to hearing material off both Summertime ’06 and Big Fish Theory live.
BADBADNOTGOOD: Currently comprised of founding members Matthew Tavares (keys), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with newest member Leland Whitty (saxophone), the Toronto, Ontario, Canada instrumental act BADBADNOTGOOD derive their name from an abandoned comedy TV project that Tavares was working on before the band formed – and whether as trio or a quartet, the band has developed a reputation for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz, prog rock; but they’re perhaps best known for their jazz-based interpretation of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed them to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. Interestingly, the band can trace its origins to when the band’s founding trio bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop – in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.
As the story goes, the then-trio played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who didn’t believe it had much musical value – but interestingly enough, after they released the track as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler The Creator, who helped the video go viral. The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.
2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of sons by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.
2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.
2015 saw the release of the band’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, and the album found them collaborating with Ghostface Killah – and interestingly, the album is more of a hip-hop album that nods at jazz. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!
Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and followed that up with producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins and Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.
Live the act, which also includes keyboardist James Hill can easily shift between jazz, acid jazz, jazz fusion, hip-hop, prog rock, advant-garde jazz, funk and rock with an effortless and seamless fashion – and seemingly at will. I saw them earlier this summer at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell and they are a must see.
Preoccupations: Now throughout the past handful of years of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about Canadian post-punk act and JOVM mainstays Preoccupations, and as you may recall, the band which is comprised of Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) initially formed under the highly controversial name Viet Cong – and as a result of their original name, the members of the band found themselves in the middle of a furious and frenzied debate around cultural appropriation and the usage of terms, names and symbols closely associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors and brutality of despotism, fascism, war, genocide and so on. Ultimately, the band decided it was best to change their name before the release of their sophomore album, an effort that found each of the individual members of the band in unsteady and uncertain positions – at the time, each of the individual members of the band had relocated to different cities across North America, which forced the band to change their long-established creative process.
Unlike their previously recoded material, the band went into the writing sessions without having a central idea or theme to consider or help guide them along, essentially making the recording sessions a collective, blind leap of faith. Interestingly, the band’s sophomore, self-titled album wound up drawing from that mix of anxiety, despair and regret that creates sleepless nights. New Material, the band’s third full-length album was released earlier this year, and the album builds upon the Canadian post-punk act’s growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk centered around themes of anxiety, uncertainty, futility, frustration, creation and destruction but as the band’s Matt Flegel says of the self-recorded album, the album is “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” And while the material is dark, murky and deeply introspective, the members of Preoccupations have developed a reputation for having an intense and energetic live show, which reveals the material’s anthemic nature.
Sunday, September 9
The Flaming Lips: Currently comprised of founding members Wayne Coyne (guitar, vocals) and Michael Ivins (bass), with Steven Drozd, Derek Brown, Jake Ingalls, Matt Duckworth and Nicholas Ley, the Norman, OK-based psych rock/psych pop/indie rock act The Flaming Lips formed back in 1983 with Coyne (guitar), Coyne’s brother Mark (vocals), Ivins (bass) and Dave Kotska (drums). Interestingly, after Kotska joined the band, Richard English joined the band – and that year, they recorded the only full-length album with Mark Coyne, the band’s self-titled effort.
After Mark Coyne left the band, Wayne assumed vocal duties and the and released their 1986 full-length debut Hear It Is on Pink Dust Records, a psych rock imprint of Engima Records. With that initial lineup, the band released two more albums, 1987’s Oh My Gawd!!! and 1989’s Telepathic Surgery, which was originally planned to be a 30-minute sound collage. From that point on, the band has gone through a series of lineup changes – 1989’s Dave Fridmann-produced In a Priest Driven Ambulance featured Nathan Roberts (drums) and Mercury Rev’s Johnathan Donahue (guitar), and saw the band expanding upon their sound with further experimentation with tape loops and effects, as well as Coyne making a transition to vocal style inspired by Neil Young.
Back in 1990, the members of The Flaming Lips caught the attention of Warner Brothers Records and were promptly signed when an AR rep witnessed a show in which the band almost burned down the American Legion Hall in their hometown with the use of pyrotechnics. In 1991, the members of the band started recording their major label debut Hit to Death in the Future Head, which was delayed for nearly a year because of their use of a sample from Michael Kamen’s score from the major motion picture Brazil, which had a lengthy clearance process. After the recoding of the album, Donahue left the band to focus on his work with Mercury Rev and Roberts leaving the band, citing creative differences.
Ronald Jones and Steven Drozd joined the band and with that lineup they released Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, their only full-length album in which their longtime producer and collaborator Fridmann wasn’t involved; however, because of the success of album single “She Don’t Use Jelly,” the band was featured on Beverly Hills 90210, Late Show with David Letterman, Charmed and Beavis and Butthead. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on a lengthy stint of touring opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Candlebox.
1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic was released to critical fanfare in 1995 although it didn’t achieve the same commercial success of its predecessor. In 1996, the band went through another lineup chance with the depature of Ronald Jones. The three remaining members of the band felt a growing dissatisfaction with stand rock music, led to the extremely experimental Zaireeka, a four CD album intended to be heard by playing all four CDs in four separate CD players simultaneously. Sonically, the material incorporated traditional musical elements, found sounds often manipulated by contemporary recording studio techniques and electronics.
And while their experimental efforts received, the band received mainstream success with 1999’s The Soft Bulletin, which meshed catchy melodies with synthetic strings, hypnotic and carefully manipulated beats, booming cymbals and weird but deeply philosophical lyrics. Critically, the album has been compared to The Beach Boys’ Pet Soundsas it featured the entire studio as an instrument to be manipulated. The Soft Bulletin’s critically applauded follow-up, 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots featured guest musician Yoshimi P-We and found the band incorporating the increasing use of electronics and computer manipulation – and the album is generally considered their first critical and commercially successful album after 20 years as a band; in fact, “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)” won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, and the album was certified Gold in 2006. Since then the band has been considered one of those must-see acts, thanks in part to a show that has largely been described as a pure spectacle.
Nile Rodgers & Chic: Nile Rodgers is a New York-born and-based songwriter, guitarist, composer, arranger and producer, who is best known as a co-founding member of smash-hit disco act Chic and for his work as a producer and collaborator with the likes of Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Philip Bailey, Thompson Twins, Sheena Easton, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Duran Duran, Madonna, INXS, Britney Spears, Spoons, Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams, Avicii, Disclosure, Sam Smith, Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Max Pezzali, Nervo, Laura Mvula, Sigala, Keith Urban, Christina Aguilera and George Michael among a growing list of artists.
Rodgers is arguably one of the more influential and important figures of pop music and dance music of the past 40+ years, and he’s had a role on some of the most beloved albums and singles, and I gotta admit I’m looking forward to hearing all of those old Chic songs live.
Yo La Tengo: Yo La Tengo is Spanish for “I have it” — referring to a female-gendered object or person, in which it would be “I’ve got her,” but the Hoboken, NJ-based indie rock band actually derive their name from an old baseball anecdote. During the New York Mets‘ inaugural season in 1962, centerfielder Richie Ashbury and Venezuelan-born shortstop Elio Chacon found themselves colliding in the outfield. As the story goes, whenever Ashbury went for a catch, he wold scream “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” but Chacon spoke Spanish and had a limited understanding of English. During a game later that year, Ashbury yelled “Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo!” instead and saw Chacon backing off on the play, avoiding further collisions; however, left fielder Frank Thomas, who didn’t understand Spanish and missed the team meeting that proposed using “Yo la tengo!” to avoid outfield collisions, collided into Ashburn. After getting up from their collision Thomas reportedly asked Ashburn, “What the hell is a Yellow Tango?”
As far as the band, the New Jersey-based indie rock band, which is currently comprised of founding members Ira Kaplan (guitar, piano, vocals), and Georgia Hubley (drums, piano, vocals), along with James McNew (bass, vocals) can trace their origins back to 1984. When Kaplan and Hubley formed the band, they played an advertisement to recruit other musicians, who shared their mutual love of The Soft Boys, Mission of Burma and Arthur Lee and his band Love, and as a result, the band’s first lineup featured Kaplan, Hubley, Dave Schramm (lead guitar) and Dave Rick (bass) with whom they released their debut 7 inch “The River of Water,” which featured a cover of Arthur Lee’s “A House Is Not a Motel.” After the band recorded “Private Doberman” for the Coyote Records compilation Luxury Condos Coming to Your Neighborhood Soon, the band went through a number of lineup changes before settling on their current lineup in 1992 — although the band’s original guitarist Dave Schramm joined the band during the sessions for their 14th record, Stuff Like That There.
Despite achieving limited mainstream success, Yo La Tengo have developed a reputation for being a critically applauded act while maintaining a devoted cult following, thanks in part to their live shows, which reveal an almost encyclopedic repertoire of covers — their SummerStage set last year began with a cover of Ace Frehely‘s “Back in the New York Groove“– and for their annual Hanukkah residency at Maxwell’s that featured a shit ton of covers and special guests, including their parents. Live, they manage to walk a tightrope between power and lush beauty, irony and sincerity within the turn of a phrase.
No Age: Comprised of Randy Randall (guitar) and Dean Allen Spunt (vocals, drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based noise rock duo No Age can trace their origins to the breakup of their previous band Wives, in which Spunt played bass and sang while Randall played guitar. The duo’s first official release was an extremely limited release collection of 5 vinyl singles and Eps that they released on 5 different labels on or around the same day – March 26, 2007. Designed by Brian Roettinger and the members of No Age, the back of each record’s sleeve was a different color and had a different letter that when put together spelled out the band’s name. Half of the songs on the singles and EPs wound up comprising their full-length debut Weirdo Rippers.
Since the release of Weirdo Rippers, Randall and Spunt have developed a reptaution for relentless touring, frequently playing shows at unusual locations – they once played a show at the Los Angeles River and they famously accompanied video artist Doug Aitken and Chloe Sevigny to Athens, Greece and Hydra Island, Greece to perform a multimedia piece “Black Mirror.” The performances took place on an old Greek barge at the Port of Piraeus, off the Island of Hydra and a final performance with the barge driven to the middle of the ocean. Additionally, they’ve found new and interesting ways to pair art around the release of their music – 2009’s Losing Feeling EP was released with a limited edition “Losing Feeling” companion zine; 2012’s “Collage Culture” 12 inch was a soundtrack to readings of excerpts of Aaron Rose, Mandy Kahn and Brian Roettinger’s Collage Culture, split in two channels – one side with readings from the book, the other side with No Age music written specifically for the release.
The acclaimed noise rock act is currently touring to support their latest effort Snares Like a Haircut, which was released earlier this year through Drag City Records.
Check out the full musical lineup below.
Saturday, September 8
Standing on the Corner
Sunday, September 9
The Flaming Lips
Nile Rodgers & CHIC
Yo La Tengo
Tickets are still available, please check out OctFest.co for information.
You can check out information and updates on the festival at Oct.co, and on Twitter by following @Pitchfork and @ReadOctober.
I’ll be covering the festival through my various social accounts, so feel free to check me out through the following: