Tag: Elvis Costello

New Video: Introducing the 4AD Records-Inspired Shoegaze Sound of Los Angeles’ Tennis System

With the release of their latest effort PAIN earlier this year through Graveface Records,the up-and-coming Los Angeles, CA-based noise rock/shoegaze trio Tennis System has developed a reputation for a classic 4AD Records sound: squalling feedback-tinged power chords fed through delay and effect pedals, thundering drumming and ethereal melodies, centered around a rather sunny ambivalence, and a sense of profound loss — and for quickly establishing themselves as one of their hometown’s best, new live bands. In fact, the trio have played sets at Austin Psych Fest, Noise Pop Fest, Echo Park Rising and the Air & Style Festival, and have shared stages with The Flaming Lips, Ride, Dinosaur Jr., Kendrick Lamar and Diiv among others. 

“COMINGDOWN,” PAIN’s latest single will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting a familiar and beloved sound — in this case, recalling My Bloody Valentine, A Storm in Heaven-era The Verve, JOVM mainstays Dead Leaf Echo, My Vitriol and others but with an anxiety of wha the future could hold, after a horrible event that the song’s narrator knows they will regret. 

Directed by Logan Rice, the video follows  Niamh Hannigan as she distractedly goes through her day — and through a series of rapidly changing colors, grainy fade outs and fade ins, the video suggests that its protagonist is slowly coming down from the throes of hallucinogenic fugue. 


Comprised of core members and primary songwriters Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Gallin Ramirez, the San Francisco, CA-based indie duo Billy & Dolly can actually trace their origins to their first band together, a Moog-centric project called The Monolith, which was formed back in 2004. After a five year run, The Monolith split up; however, Rousseau and Ramirez continued to work together, eventually holing up in Ramirez’s basement to write songs before re-emerging as Billy & Dolly — and as Billy & Dolly, they’ve recorded and released two albums together, and shared stages with The Apples in Stereo, Dr. Dog and Corin Tucker.

For live shows, Rousseau and Ramirez play with Elliott Kiger (drums) and Charley Hine (bass); but with Five Suns, the band’s soon-to-be released Five Suns, which was recorded at Oakland’s New, Improved Recording with their longtime collaborator Jay Pellicci, finds the band officially recording as quartet, capturing them in their proper element — as a muscular and sweaty live unit. But interestingly enough, the album’s material balances goofiness and sweetness as the material touches upon post-apocalyptic love, galactic desperation and Jane Eyre, among other things.

As you’ll hear on “Can’t Stay Still,” Five Suns‘ fourth and latest single, the song is centered by arpeggiated keys and a propulsive rhythm, an infectious hook and an uncanny sense of harmony to create something that sounds like an amalgamation of Elvis Costello and bubblegum pop but with a sweet and goofy sensibility. “‘Can’t Stay Calm,’ is one of the first songs we wrote fro what would become the Five Suns album,” Billy & Dolly’s Dahlia Gallin Ramirez explains in press notes. “It’s about finding a kindred blue soul, someone who knows what it’s like to be a kid roaming the foggy streets of San Francisco.”  



Preview: SummerStage 2017

Back in 1986, the City Parks Foundation created SummerStage in the spirt of Central Park’s original purpose — to serve as a free, public resource to help culturally enrich the lives of New Yorkers through live concerts, dance performances, and other cultural events.  And the festival’s first few years revealed relatively humble beginnings as its first few years of live programming were at Central Park’s Naumberg Bandshell; however, with artists such as Sun Ra Arkestra and legendary South African vocal act Ladysmith Black Mambazo and an impressive list of others playing those first few years, Summerstage, SummerStage quickly developed a reputation for presenting one of the most diverse array of artists across a variety of cultures, genres and styles — and they’ve continued to do so throughout its 30 plus year history. Over the past handful of years, SummerStage’s organizers have expanded the festival beyond Manhattan with shows hosted in parks, bandshells and and makeshift stages across the city’s other five boroughs, and from covering the festival throughout most of the history of site, it’s a wonderful afternoon or evening with your friends and neighbors; plus, there’s nothing like catching acts that keep you in touch with your inner child.

2017’s SummerStage season will begin in earnest on June 3rd with the legendary and imitable Mavis Staples, a national fucking treasure if you ask me, with contemporary blues artist Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely Good Music to round out a night of soul, gospel and blues at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. And the rest of the lineup for his year continues an incredible run of must-see acts. Some other highlights will include:

And of course, there are a handful of benefit shows presented by The Bowery Presents at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield to help support City Parks Foundation’s continuing efforts to present free arts programming to New Yorkers and that lineup is equally impressive.

SummerStage will also be expanding its family-friendly pre-show workshop offerings this year to include dance classes, beatboxing lessons and introductions to DJing and Latin percussion. These interactive workshops will take place prior to elect SummerStage shows throughout the summer and all ages are encouraged to come out to your local park to participate. This year, the pre-show workshops will being with a DJ lesson from Scratch DJ Academy and a beatboxing tutorial with beatboxer Exacto before Digable Planets’ Coffey Park show — and other workshops will include salsa dance lessons in St. Mary’s Park and a poetry class in Marcus Garvey Park.

For more information and schedules check out SummerStage here: http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/

New Video: Live Footage of Preservation Hall Jazz Captures the Explosive and Ebullient Energy of Their Latest Single “Santiago”

Allan Jaffe founded Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 1961 with a vital and critical mission: promoting and preserving New Orleans‘ jazz and its jazz culture with the authenticity that it deserved. And although most of the act’s first lineup is no longer with us, the act has continued on its mission with a variety of different lineups, recording over 30 studio albums, a live album, and a touring schedule that has included collaborating with a number of renowned popular acts at festivals and concerts, helping to introduce and re-popularize the New Orleans jazz sound to concertgoers and music fans across the world.

With the act celebrating its 50th anniversary earlier this decade, the milestone left its current creative director Ben Jaffe, the son of the act’s legendary and beloved founder, and its current members with a couple of deeply existential and important questions: First, how does an institution based on early 20th century musical culture survive and prosper in the early 21st century? And second, how do they do that while continuing to preserve and honor New Orleans’ musical culture and sound? Interestingly, the answer Jaffe and company came up with was that they needed to reinvent themselves and their sound by looking at the future, but with a loving and kind gaze at what inspired and influenced them, and at their previous history. Or in other words, with the band’s first 50 years being focused on the sounds and styles of the past, Jaffe and company felt it was necessary to make the institution’s next 50 years about how they can modernize without forgetting or losing the vital connection to the past.

Jaffe and the members of the band decided that the best way to look towards the future would be to write and record new, original material — including the band’s first album of originals, the boisterous and joyous That’s It!, which included album title track “That’s It,” “Dear Lord (Give Me The Strength)” and “Rattling Bones” among others. April 21, 2017 will mark the release of the Dave Sitek-produced So It Is, the septet’s second album of original material — and the album’s material finds the band mining fresh influences, including their 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. As the band’s leader, arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Jaffe explains in press notes, “In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face-to-face with our musical counterparts. There’s been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one — we’re family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it’s part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.”

Featuring compositions and songs largely penned by Jaffe and 84 year-old saxophonist and clarinetist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the members of the band, the material ties the New Orleans jazz sound to the larger African Diaspora, in particular with the Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Cuban sound through the common sonic and aesthetic linkages — in particular Fela Kuti, Pharaoh Sanders and John Coltrane. Of course, the material also draws from the continuing post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans that has forced all locally-based artists to consider what the city’s sound and culture means and should be in 2017 and onwards. And lastly, the material draws from their collaborations with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, The Grateful Dead, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and The Black Keys.

As I mentioned earlier, Dave Sitek was enlisted to produce So It is. Sitek, best known as a founding member of TV on the Radio and a go-to producer, who has worked with Kelis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold and others, also offered a modern perspective and a profound respect for the band’s history. In fact, as Sitek recalls upon his arrival in New Orleans to meet Jaffe and the members of the septet, he and Jaffe had randomly stumbled into one of the second-line parades, which New Orleans has long been known for. “I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediately,” Sitek said in press notes. “I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.”

“Santiago,” So It Is’ first single bares a clear resemblance to the material on its predecessor as it possesses a boisterous, riotous joy; but unlike any of their previously released material, the composition is a difficult to pigeonhole melange of influences and sounds that features a propulsive rhythm section that seemingly draws from Cuban son, meringue and salsa, Afrobeat, and big band jazz paired with a bold, bright, swaggering horn lines familiar to New Orleans brass band and jazz. Interestingly, the composition possesses a loose and completely improvisational feel, as the musicians in the band catch a groove and ride it; but there’s also enough room for the members of the band to play strutting and swaggering solos. Simply put the band and this particular composition radiate an indefatigable joy — and if you don’t immediately start to dance as soon as you hear it, there’s something deeply wrong with you.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while. you’d know that I have a profound love of the New Orleans sound, have written about the legendary Preservation Jazz Hall Band and have even caught them live a couple of years back, when they stopped at Brooklyn Bowl for an incredibly fun Christmastime show. The recently released video for “Santiago” captures the band at their best — live. And it shouldn’t be surprising that the video captures the song’s explosive and swaggering energy; but it should remind you that jazz while jazz over the past 50 or 60 years has been reduced to “classy” establishments, jazz has long been the sound of rebellion, of ebullient and frenetic joy, of passionate, seductive danger.