Tag: Live Footage

Live Footage: The Fresh & Onlys Perform “Wolf Lie Down” at Tapetown Studios

Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio  Tapetown Studios  and  Sound of Aarhus have developed a live video series in which they invite national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studio during their free time to record a session — and along with that, the band would also be provided a unique glimpse of Aarhus beyond the exhausting touring routines of load-ins, soundchecks, live set, chat with strangers and friends, tear downs, pack ups, and van rides and/or flights to the next series of gigs. Now, if you’ve been frequenting recently, you’d know that Tapetown and Sound of Aarhus have invited the British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek and Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey. 

Of course, throughout the past few years, I’ve written quite about  Tim Cohen, woho has written, recorded and toured with a number of different bands and creative outlets, including Magic Trick, The Fresh & Onlys (with whom, he may be the best known) and as a solo artist. Interestingly, over that same period, Cohen has managed to be remarkably prolific and extremely busy: last year alone, the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter split time touring with Magic Trick and The Fresh & Onlys, worked on and recorded Magic Trick’s fourth album Other Man’s Blues, as well as his solo debut Luck Man — and he managed to balance all of that with the responsibilities of being a new father.  

Released earlier this year, Wolf Lie Down is the first Fresh & Onlys effort in over three years, and the album found collaborators and bandmates Cohen and Wymond Miles (guitar, production) stripping the layered sound and feel of their last few albums while keeping the focus on Cohen’s hyper-literate yet accessible lyrics, focusing on metaphysical musings; but in the case of album title track “Wolf Lie Down,” Cohen’s vocals and lyrics are paired with the sort of arrangement that should immediately remind you of  the Ramones. 

Recently, Cohen, Miles and company were touring Europe and were invited to stop by Aarhus’ Tapetown Studios where they played a loose and fast live version of “Wolf Lie Down.” Check it out. 

Live Footage: Xiu Xiu Covers ZZ Top on AV Club “Undercover”

I’ve long been a fan of The Onion AV Club, as I think they’ve consistently offered some of most incisive and hilarious criticism of movies, movies and pop culture, written by some of the country’s smartest critics and writers. And it shouldn’t be surprising that for a long time I longed to write for them. Now, since moving exclusively to the interwebs, the folks at The Onion AV Club created the Undercover video series.  The concept behind the video series is pretty interesting — every season, the website’s writers and editors devise a list of songs that they would love to hear some contemporary artist or band cover.

The website’s staff then invites artists and bands over to their Chicago studio, where the invited band chooses a song from the AV Club’s list for that particular session — and then the band or artist records it in a live session. Here’s where things get truly interesting: Once a song is chosen and then covered, it’s crossed off their list, reducing the number of songs anyone else can cover that season, so if an artist or band is invited later on in their season, their choices may be much more limited than a band that was invited earlier. By doing that, it prevents having several invited artists or bands from covering the same sets of songs over and and over and over again.

And while revealing the influences and tastes of many contemporary acts, it also forces artists out of their confront zones, sometimes to a gloriously weird result — such as  They Might Be Giants’ boisterous  cover of Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Screaming Females‘ feral, punk rock cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Gwar’s thrash punk covers of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams (And Into My Car),”  and  Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” which are so fucking awesome, that you need to check them out below) or to the “oh shit, I never thought that artist could pull that song,” like  Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater’s collaborative cover of Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” And as you can imagine, sometimes the covers are straightforward — and other times, the band or artist brings a unique, never thought of take. Adding to the unpredictability of the series, they’ve had Shearwater cover Bowie’s Lodger in its entirety.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this very strange year, you may recall that to start off the eighth season of Undercover, The A.V. Club invited the Seattle, WA-based indie rock blogosphere darlings Minus the Bear to their newly redesigned Chicago studio, where they played a forceful and lovingly straightforward cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” Adding to a pretty interesting season of covers, The A.V. Club invited renowned and incredibly prolific experimental indie rock act Xiu Xiu into the studio, where they contributed a tense, manic, almost Devo “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”-like cover of ZZ Top’s smash hit “Sharp Dressed Man,” complete with a wild drum accompaniment that brings new life to an oft covered song. 

Along with their John Congleton-produced 11th full-length effort FORGET, which was released earlier this year, the members of Xiu Xiu will be releasing a split 7 inch with Italian band (r) and it’ll feature both bands covering ZZ Top. 

As Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart explains in press notes, “It took me a long time to come around to ZZ Top. When I was a kid i thought they were a joke band and their beards and campy sexuality freaked me out. Later on Xiu Xiu tours we would and still do always listen to the Black Flag tour diary Get In The Van wherein Henry Rollins mentions playing ZZ Top to all the punks in England, telling them it was the new Exploited record and watching them cry. 

This was funny and I thought hmmm .  . .

Then after watching a long jag of music documentaries, Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, time and time again was a commentator. He was always incredibly smart, clearly deeply devoted to the history of music and insane looking.  

We were asked by the AV Club cover’s series to play a song from a list they had chosen. Everything on the list was a bunch of 90s RnB that I was never into or lame-o indie rock EXCEPT for ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’

The stars had aligned. I had no idea what a radical guitar part it was and what a pleasure it was to learn, by the end of the song I had to have 4 different fuzz and distortion pedals on to make it as zonked out as it needs to be. 

Walking down the streets of Torino on tour and talking with dear friend and long time collaborator Fabrizio Palumbo of (r) and his husband Paul Beauchamp. I mentioned we were covering the song. They said very matter of factly, “‘Xiu Xiu as ZZ Top and (r) as ZZ Bottom. Let’s do a split 7 inch.’”

He sent in his perfect minimal, experimental, goth, cabaret version of ‘Gimme All Your Lovin.’ A perversion made in heaven was born. “

Live Footage: Up-and-Coming Swedish Band Pale Honey Perform “Heaviest of Storms” at Tapetown Studios

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may know that the Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio  Tapetown Studios  and  Sound of Aarhus have a long-running series in which they invite both touring bands to come into the studio for a live session; but along with that the band during their limited downtime would get a unique taste of Aarhus beyond the touring routine of load-ins, sound checks, shows, tear downs, pack ups and van rides to the next gig. Recently, Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus invited Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey for a session — and the trio, comprised of Tuva Lodmark, Nelly Daltrey, and Anders Lagerfors performed “Heaviest of Storms (Devotion, Part 1)” a shimmering and moody track that reminded me quite a bit of early PJ Harvey. 

Live Footage: Ulrika Spacek Performs “Mimi Pretend” at Tapetown Studios

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for bit, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring Ulrika Spacek, and as you may recall the act, which is comprised of long-time friends and collaborators Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams can trace their origins to a night in Berlin, when the duo conceptualized the project’s sound and aesthetic around their mutual love for Television, Pavement, Sonic Youth and krautrock. When the duo returned to their hometown of Homerton, they began working on their full-length debut, The Album Paranoia, which featured the 120 Minutes-era  MTV-like single “She’s A Cult,” and the shoegazer-like “Strawberry Glue.”

While on a tour across the European Union, the members of the band stopped by Aarhus, Denmark-based Tapetown Studios to participate in the Live at Tapetown Series, in which Sound of Aarhus and the recording studio invite touring bands to come in and do a live session; but along with the touring bands during their downtime would get a unique taste of Aarhus beyond the typical touring routines of load-ins, sound checks, tear downs, pack ups and van rides.

Last month, Sound of Aarhus released footage of the JOVM mainstays performing their  A Storm in Heaven and  A Northern Soul-era The Verve and The Bends-era Radiohead-like single “Everything, All The Time.” The second video from the live session is the shimmering and jangling shoegazer track “Mimi Pretend,” and much like its predecessor from the sessions, the video will further cement their reputation for crafting 90s alt rock/shoegazer songs but with a subtly modern sheen. 

Live Footage: The Legendary Mavis Staples Performs “Build A Bridge” on “Colbert”

Now, more than enough ink has been spilled throughout Mavis Staples‘ eight decades in music, both as a member of the legendary The Staple Singers and as a solo artist, so I won’t delve into her biography or what other journalists have written about her because I think that for the sake of this post, it’s largely unnecessary; however, whether as a member of The Staple Singers or as a solo artist, Ms. Staples has released some of the most important, influential and beloved songs of the 60s and 70s — and in my book, the woman is a revered, national treasure. Of course, unsurprisingly, Staples has seen quite a bit of American history — including the bitter and shameful prejudice, racism, ugliness, injustice and violence of the Jim Crow-era South, the Civil Rights era, the hypocrisy and wishy washiness of White moderates and liberals, the election of Barack Obama — and yet . . . as the old adage says — the more things change, the more things remain the same. And while the same hate has always remained, rooted around race, gender, class, ethnicity and nationally, for the first time in a couple of  generations, the discussion of whether or not this country has lived up to is ideals have forced itself back into the national consciousness. 

Staples’ soon-to-be released album If All I Was Was Black continues her ongoing and critically applauded collaboration with singer/songwriter and producer Jeff Tweedy — and interestingly, the album marks the first time that Tweedy has composed an entire album worth of music for Staples. And as the story goes, when Tweedy and Staples convened to write the album’s material, the duo found themselves recognizing that this was a critical historical moment, in which they wanted and needed to say something about the current state of things here in the US and about the various fissures along race, politics, gender, gender identity and so on.  “We’re not loving one another the way we should,” the legendary vocalist says in press notes. “Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.” Tweedy adds, “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself — that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”

Naturally, some of the album’s material reportedly expresses anger and frustration — after all, how it could it not? In some way, Election Day last year felt like major gains made by dear friends in the Black, Latino, LGBQT and Muslim communities were wiped away. And yet, the material while still rooted around Staples’ legendary optimism, the material is balanced with a grounded realism that essentially says “well shit, there’s quite a bit of hard work, love and empathy that’s needed to make things right. Interestingly, when I heard album title track  “If All I Was Was Black,” I was immediately reminded of Syl Johnson‘s aching and bitter lament “Is It Because I’m Black.” in the sense that Staples’ latest single is an earnest and hopeful plea to the listener, imploring them to look into the heart and souls of every individual they come across, and to see them for their unique abilities; to render one’s skin color as relatively unimportant as the color of one’s eyes.

The album’s latest single “Build A Bridge” focuses on the growing sense of alienation, loneliness and misunderstanding of modern life — with Ms. Staples boldly suggesting that many of the world’s problems could be solved if people could allow themselves to be vulnerable and empathetic to the plight of others, so that they can see both the glorious differences in others and the universality of all.  For Ms. Staples sake, I hope we can all try before it’s too late. 

Recently Ms. Staples, Tweedy, their backing band and members of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert band performed the song on Late Show with Stephen Colbert. 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Thundercat Performs Three Songs from Latest Album on NPR’s Tiny Desk

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four years, you’ve likely come across a growing number of posts featuring the critically applauded bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. And as you may recall, the past two years or so have been incredibly busy for the renowned artists, as he’s collaborated with Kendrick Lamar  on Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, which he promptly followed up with one of my favorite releases of 2015, the mini-album The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, an effort that further cemented his growing reputation as one of this decade’s most unique, genre-defying artists. 
Drunk, Bruner’s third, full-length effort was released earlier this year and the album was written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and it features an All-Star list of collaborators including some of his go-to collaborators Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. As you know, the album features a few, previously released fan favorites like  “Bus In These Streets” but it also features the bitterly hilarious, Anti-Valentine Day/fuck being friend zoned track, “Friend Zone,”  “Them Changes,” a song that focuses on a heartbroken and dazed narrator trying to piece his life back together after a romantic relationship has ended, and the shimmering and slow-burning “Lava Lamp,” among a number of others. 

Bruner with a backing band featuring Dennis Hamm (keys), Justin Brown (drums) and Miguel Atwood Ferguson (violin) was recently on NPR Tiny Desk to perform the aforementioned “Lava Lamp,” “Friend Zone” and “Them Changes” and from the footage, a Thundercat performance seems to an almost otherworldly experience of trippy funky — with a mischievous bent. Enjoy, catching what may be the most inventive and interesting bassist since the late, great Jaco Pastorius. 

Live Footage: Bilal and The Roots Perform Politically-Charged Single “It Ain’t Fair” on NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Currently comprised of founding members Tariq  “Black Thought” Trotter (vocals), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (drums), along with Kamal Gray (keys), “Captain” Kirk Douglas (guitar), Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. (sousaphone, tuba), Mark Kelley (bass), James Poyster (keys), Stro Elliot (production, sampling), The Roots can trace their origins back to when its founding duo met while attending The Philadelphia High School of the Creative and Performing Arts. As the story goes, Trotter and Thompson would busk on street corners — with Thompson playing bucket drums and Trotter rhyming over Thompson’s rhythms, and by 1989, the played their first organized gig at their high school’s talent show under the name Radio Activity.

After a series of name changes including Black to the Future and The Square Roots, the duo eventually settled on The Roots, after discovering that a local folk group went by The Square Roots.  As they were building up a local profile, the duo expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition of Josh “The Rubberband” Adams, who later went on to form The Josh Abrams Quartet; MC Malik Abdul “Malik B.” Basit-Smart, Leonard Nelson “Hub” Hubbard (bass); Scott Storch (keys); MC Kenyatta “Kid Crumbs” Warren, who was in the band for the recording sessions for Organix, the band’s full-length debut; and MC Dice Raw, who made cameos on later albums. And although the band has gone through a number of lineup changes since the release of their debut, The Roots throughout the course of their critically applauded, 10 independently released albums, two EPs and two collaborative albums have developed a reputation for a sound that effortlessly meshes live, organic instrumentation featuring a jazz, funk and soul approach with hip-hop, essentially becoming one of the genre’s first true bands. Additionally, throughout their lengthy history together, the members of The Roots have developed a long-held reputation for collaborating with a diverse and expanding list of artists across a wide array of genres and styles, revealing an effortless ability to play anything at any time.

Of course, unless you’ve been living in a remote Tibetan monastery or in a cave, The Roots have been the house band for NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009-2014 and for presently being the house band The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, further expanding their profile into the national and international consciousness. And while being extraordinarily busy, the members of The Roots have been busy working on their 9th Wonder and Salaam Remi-produced 17th full-length album End Game, as well as contributing a politically charged track to the Detroit soundtrack, “It Ain’t Fair,” a collaboration with the renowned soul singer/songwriter Bilal.

Born Bilal Sayeed Oliver, Bilal is a Philadelphia, PA-born, New York-based soul singer/songwriter, best known by the mononym Bilal. Throughout his career, he’s received praise for his wide vocal range, work across multiple genres, his live performances and for collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Common, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Guru, Kimbra, J. Dilla, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, the aforementioned The Roots and others with his full-length debut 1st Born Second, which featured contributions from Soulquarians and production from Dr. Dre and J. Dilla being a commercial and critical success, peaking at number 31 on the Billboard 200 charts and receiving comparisons to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Prince and Curtis Mayfield.  Although since then, the renowned singer/songwriter has developed an increasing reputation for his work becoming much more avant-garde and genre-defying.

Interestingly enough, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. of The Roots and Bilal, along with a horn section went down to NPR Tiny Desk in Washington, DC to perform “It Ain’t Fair,” a deeply reflective song that thematically and lyrically makes a thoughtful nod towards Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?, Syl Johnson’s Is It Because I’m Black? and others, as its creators unflinchingly and fearlessly call out a societal construct that denies a group of people the equality, dignity and decency that they too deserve. The song’s creators manage to empathetically offer a glimpse into the hearts and souls of those who love this country and would like to stand for the flag but simply can’t until the evils of inequality, racism and supremacy no longer exist — and when this great country actually lives up the ideals it claims it stands for. 

As I mentioned on Facebook, I was recently in Philadelphia for business related to my day job, and as I walked from my hotel in Center City through Old City, past The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, I recognized that I was walking on many of the streets that the Framers once walked on, as I’ve done several times before. I could picture ol’ Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Hancock, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and so on, in their powered wigs and wool coats during that hot summer of 1776. And the song managed to remind me of the bitter and uneasy sadness I had begun to feel, remembering that the Framers, who could write about man’s inalienable rights given to him by God, didn’t see those same rights applying to anyone, who remotely looked like I do (or anyone, who wasn’t a man, or a property owner, etc.); that their independence, their revolution was never mine. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the pledge allegiance to the flag just didn’t apply to me.

If I go back just five generations ago, my ancestors on both sides of my family were slaves. Five generations ago wasn’t that long ago in the overall scheme of things — we’re talking about the parents of my great-grandparents. And on the streets of the City of Independence, I thought of the unfathomable horror and suffering they went through to justify someone else’s desire to be superior — and naturally, the song reminds me quite a bit of a lifelong bitter pill that’s so very difficult to swallow. 

Live Footage: Ulrika Spacek at Tapetown Studios Aarhus Denmark

Comprised of long-time friends and collaborators Rhys Edwards and Rhys Williams, the indie rock act  Ulrika Spacek can trace their origins to a night in Berlin, when the duo conceptualized the project based around their mutual passions and influences — namely, Television, Pavement, Sonic Youth and krautrock. And as the story goes, upon their return to Homerton, the duo began working on the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut The Album Paranoia, an album which featured the 120 Minutes-era  MTV-like single “She’s A Cult,” and the shoegazer-like Strawberry Glue.”
Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about them; however, the members of the project has been pretty busy writing and recording new material and touring — with their latest single “Everything, All The Time” managing to sound as though it nods at A Storm in Heaven and  A Northern Soul-era The Verve and The Bends-era Radiohead, thanks in part to jangling and distorted power chords, a propulsive rhythm section and an anthemic hook. And while among the most 90s alt rock-inspired songs they’ve released to date, the song reveals a subtle yet decidedly contemporary production sheen, along with a blistering urgency. 

While on a European Union tour, the members of the band stopped by Aarhus, Denmark-based Tapetown Studios to participate in the Live at Tapetown Series, in which Sound of Aarhus and the recording studio invite touring bands during their downtime to get a taste of the city beyond the routines of load-ins, sound checks, shows, tear downs and van rides — and it’ll include a live session in their studio. 

Live Footage: Up and Coming Portuguese Act Vaarwell Releases a Gorgeous and Eerie Cover of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)”

Currently comprised of Margarida Falcão, Ricardo Nagy and Luís Monteiro, the Lisbon, Portugal-based indie pop trio Vaarwell, derive their name from the Dutch, vaarwell, which in English translates into farewell — and interestingly enough, the band can trace their origins back around 2014 to when the members met while studying music production. And with the release of their debut EP Love and Forgiveness, the Portuguese trio received attention both across their native Portugal and elsewhere for an minimalist and ethereal sound; in fact the trio has been included in 2015’s FNAC Best New Talent Compilation, named Tradiio‘s “Artist of the Week,” played at the renowned Portuguese music festival NOS em D’bandana and were commissioned by by French designer Philippe Starck to write and record a track for his exhibition at the Groninger Museum during Eurosonic Nooderslag Festival.

Building upon a growing profile, the trio released their highly-anticipated full-length debut Homebound 456 earlier this year, which received airplay and praise from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Stereogum and Crack In The Road among, and others Recently, the band released the third single off their full-length debut — and interestingly enough along with that, they also released a gorgeous cover of “Exit Music (For A Film) off Radiohead’s critically applauded, seminal album OK Computer, which emphasizes the song’s plaintive ache and dread while revealing a subtly different take on a familiar song, as the Vaarwell rendition is based around a somewhat fuller arrangement featuring ominous synths.