The Staves: “You cut my roots and now my leaves are dead. They tumble down in pools of all the blood I bled” – The Great American Music Hall in in SF (Feb 20, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

About a year an a half ago when I moved back to California and was jobless, homeless, and “sleeping in a car” (crazy coincidence that their newest EP has this title) – the Stave’s album, ‘If I Was,’ was one of the only things keeping me afloat in a sea of frustration, anxiety, and despair. It was so freaking surreal to FINALLY see them live (after nearly 4 years of waiting) and watch them loop and layer their angelic vocals into a musical masterpiece – one that makes you STOP DEAD IN YOUR TRACKS. Steady, Damn It All, Sleeping in a Car, Sadness Don’t Own Me, No Me No Yo No More, and Let Me Down nearly had me shedding some tears. It’s no wonder the musical GOD that is Justin Vernon has invited them in his studio to test the limits of their innate talent and indescribable vocals. Once their harmonies hit, you are done. Just DONE. Warning: STAVES THAT SLAY.
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And, although I first discovered the Staves back in 2010, it wasn’t until watching them in the ‘Austin to Boston‘ music documentary (filmed alongside Bear’s Dean, Ben Howard, Nathanial Rateliff, and Gil Landry of Old Crow Medicine Show during their pre-SXSW tour from Austin to Boston) that I really fell hard for these sister sirens. I do love to to see that their fondness for touring in America and recording with Justin Vernon in Iowa (Ex Claire) has convinced them to move here and plant some temporary roots in Minneapolis. These “tired as fuck” “outlaws” know how to “make it holy” anytime, anywhere, and their singing about Mexico has us wanting “to see the colors of another sky.” It’s no wonder then that the Communion Music is trying to temp them back to London with a headlining slot for London’s Bushstock festival this summer. I sure hope to catch as much of them as I can while they’re still here. No staving off when it comes to the Staves!
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I also wanna give mad props to Dave Powers, the man responsible for keeping The Staves “STEADY STEADY STEADY” with this proficient percussion and damn-good drumming. It’s actually pretty surreal that I first discovered him at the same venue a year back when drumming for Aero Flynn. Crazy how things come full circle!

And at BottleRock Napa in May…

 

 

Aero Flynn: “I Can Feel the Moonbeams”

Aero Flynn– The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
*opening for Minus the Bear*  (November 22, 2015)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Glad I made it to the Great American Music Hall (GAMH) last night early enough to catch both openers — Aero Flynn and Murder By Death — for Minus the Bear‘s 10th Anniversary Menos El Oso tour. Although Aero Flynn‘s set was short (only 30 min), it was certainly SWEET and SEXY (yes, I went there). Led but Josh Scott, former front-man of Amateur Love, this talented trio (base/vocals, guitar/keys/vocals, drums) dishes up a satisfying mix of spine-tingling tunes that remind me of a cross between Radiohead, Radio Dept., Low Roar, Prefuse 73, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, and Volcano Choir. It also reminded me of a recent artist (Doe Paoro) that I saw open for Little May at the Independent earlier this month. I later learned (although could have guessed it considering her album producers) that Doe Paoro and Aero Flynn are good pals. Everyone’s connected!

The parallel to Volcano Choir makes perfect sense considering that Josh Scott and Justin Vernon (of Volcano Choir and Bon Iver) are close buddies that both hail from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and have been making music together off-and-on for over a decade. In fact, Justin produced Aero Flynn’s debut album, recently released in March 2015. I was lucky enough to get my hands on this treasure chest last night after the show and in doing so, got to meet Aero Flynn‘s friendly drummer, Dave Power. I quickly learned from Dave that Aero Flynn was in the UK twice this year — first to tour with big wig Ben Howard, and a second time for a headline tour of their own where the played at my former London stomping ground, the Lexington,  as well as the End of the Road music festival (which I heard was awesome but never made it to). When Dave asked who I’d seen play at the Lexington, the first band that came to mind was Wye Oak. Little did I know — until he pointed to his chest — that he was WEARING a Wye Oak t-shirt and we both laugh at the coincidence.

I then mentioned how I saw Sylvan Esso open for Wye Oak that Lexington show (right before Sylvan Esso BLEW UP), and he chimed in to say that he first met Jenn Wasner (of Wye Oak) when in Durham, NC to see Sylvan Esso. Small world! I then talked about Jenn touring with El Vy (Matt Berninger of The National and Brent Knopf of Menomena), and he said that his friend was actually managing that tour. Haha crazy odds.

BUT, even CRAZIER ODDS was that Aero Flynn’s recent US tour was with GIVERS, one of my FAVORITE southern bands that I was lucky enough to discover back in 2011 during their infancy stages (when they opened for Ra Ra Riot at Gundlach Bundschu winery). I’m sad I had to miss GIVERS when they played The Independent last month (I was out of town for an interview), but I’m at least glad I got to catch their amazing set (videos on my youtube) at Outside Lands music festival in August. Speaking of music festivals, Dave of Aero Flynn said that I should definitely come to the Eau Claire music festival this summer (started last year by Justin Vernon), and that if I do, I’ll should stop by and say hi. I will DEFINITELY follow up on this invitation, as I have wanted to go to this ever since I first heard about it, and I’ve got a few close friends dying to go as well. Hopefully we can get tickets!

Now GO CHECK OUT and get the electronic-tinged-folk-psych album that is Aero Flynn, (Ooh La La Records).  Dave and I agreed on this genre description of their “mystery sound,” although you’ll have to to listen for yourself to decide!

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Asgeir: “I lift my mind to the sky, and I let it take flight…The wind carries to my ears, precious sounds of life”

Asgeir– Bush Hall (December 11, 2013)

Meet Asgeir, a new, up-and-coming Icelandic musician who’s debut album sold more copies in Iceland than that of Bjork and Sigur Ros (apparently 1 out of 10 Icelanders own his album), and I CAN DEFINITELY TELL WHY. Let’s just say..umm… SPELL-BINDING?…Ethereal folk layered with beautiful harmonies (almost falsetto sounding), warm electronica, and adroit guitar picking. His delicate, falsetto voice reminds me a bit of Justin Veron, and the band’s sound overall is similar to both Bon Iver and Volcano Choir. It was such a treat to hear some of the tracks sung in Icelandic, for which they were originally written and only later translated by John Grant (another great artist) in English to reach more people. My first encounter with the Icelandic language WAS through Asgeir, and I have so much more of an appreciation for this beautiful language because of his music. And to think that they also kicked off their December show at Bush Hall in London with some Icelandic Christmas carols. (Merry xmas to you). I just wish they didn’t have the entire show in the dark! See videos/pics from that show below.

Fortunately I was also able to catch Asgeir again in the spring when they played at the lovely Union Chapel in Islington. Head In the Snow has always been one of my favorites, so me eyes IMMEDIATELY LIT UP when they kicked off their set with this gem. I distinctly remember listening to this one on the bus ride from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik, and suddenly my mind became flooded with flashbacks from that magical place. I am whisked away to stunning landscapes of giant glaciers and mighty waterfalls that breathe life into the tree-less mountainside. “Hope and faith, Don’t you fail me now…Hope and faith, Come and warm my heart…Hope and faith, Fill me up with strength.” (It’s not uncommon that I daydream at least ONCE when listening to their album)..Next up was In the Silence, another favorite for which I first heard in Icelandic at their Bush Hall gig. It was such a treat to see how a song that you ALREAD THOUGHT BEAUTIFUL could capture even more beauty when sung in a different language (especially one as lovely as Icelandic!): “Come, take my hand, Let’s undo the knots of the past…Watch the mind run far away…and everything that will be and was here and now.”

Asgeir then took us on a detour to dark waters, playing a new song called The Ocean (see video below).

From the ocean to the sky, he soon takes us higher and higher into another dimension with the beautiful soft electronica and gentle vocals of Higher: 

“I lift my mind to the sky, and I let it take flight
The wind carries to my ears, precious sounds of life…
Higher HIGHER…I must go…
Higher HIGHER…Far away….    
And the glare of this world is more than humbled…”

After taking flight with Higher and HigherAsgeir brought us home with Going Home. Of all this songs on the album, this is the one that changed most drastically from its initial release, and I really enjoyed witnessing the evolution. “Home, I’m making my way home….My mind’s already there.” (last phrase always slays me)…Summer Guest was to follow, and the last line of this song SLAYS ME even harder: “You made a shelter for my soul if your language I could speak..I would weave a song for you of my own.”

Asgeir then surprises us all with a tribute to Kurt Cobain on the week of his death anniversary (can’t believe it’s been 20 years), performing a heart-wrenching over of Nirvana‘s Heart-Shaped Box:

“She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak
I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks
I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar-pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black..”

I’m pretty sure every inch of my body was covered in goosebumps. Kurt was def smiling that night. x

A few tracks later came Asgeir’s notable King and Cross, a beautiful song laced with catchy beats and cool keyboard/synth elements. This lyrics always speak to me: “Death cannot take hold, if I can keep momentum…I’ve found my strength now.” LOVE. Then came Torrent, my FAVORITE on the album (although it’s very hard to choose). When I first heart this track, it kinda reminded me of a Christmas carol, and its uplifting aura gets more and more intense every time I listen. So many magical sounds weaved into this musical masterpiece, especially the percussion (and the drummer’s intensity is hilarious to watch). No wonder they saved it for the encore! (Also, you MUST out the original version in Icelandic: Nýfallið Regn.STUUUUUUNING.)

Ásgeir‘s solo encore of One That Day was one of my highlights of the night. It’s the only song he played by himself, showcasing the pure, organic, spiritual quality to his voice (as his range hits the upper echelons in flawlessly fluctuating falsetto). He was clearly in his element, and you couldn’t help be whisked away to a mystical place (maybe the glacier lagoons of Iceland) and drowned in the fluid sound of his atmospheric, folk-laced tempos. And to be heard in a high-ceiling Gothic church with subtle lighting?…Dying.

“Just one look at you
and then I knew
On that day…
Serendipity smiled down on me.”

I am so glad I discovered the ICELANDIC PROPHET that is Asgeir when I did (back in December) because is HUGE now and has globe-trotted all over the world, covering lot of ground and hitting big festivals in the states and in Europe. His music has been the musical medicine for my soul, and I can’t stop dreaming of my future adventures in Iceland when I GET BACK THERE in November for ICELAND AIRWAVES. So stoked to see him again, along with other Icelandic artists (Low Roar, Lay Low, Samaris, Mammut, SOLSTAFIR, Low Roar), and to explore his magical land with one of my best friends from California! I would have moved to Iceland in a heartbeat if they had work for me there. It’s UNREAL in so many ways, and EVERYONE needs to travel there (and soak up the local music) at least ONCE in their lifetime. Check out the documentary video that my friend Marissa (super-talented) made from our trip there back in March. SO looking forward to ROUND 2 of this trip in the next few months! ❤

(Setlists for both gigs are post below. I made sure I was lucky enough to be in front both times.)

Asgeir– Union Chapel (April 8, 2014)

VIDEOS:

Going Home:

The Ocean:

Heart-Shaped Box:

Torrent:

On That Day:

PICTURES:

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Asgeir– Bush Hall (December 11, 2014)

VIDEOS:

Torrent:

King and Cross:

Head in the Snow (Icelandic version):

In the Silence:

Higher:

On the Day:

PICTURES:

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James Vincent McMorrow- “Sometimes my hands they don’t feel like my own, I need someone to love, I need someone to hold”

James Vincent McMorrow– Rough Trade East, London

(Jan 16, 2014)

Had to sell my James Vincent McMorrow tickets for the Barbican on Jan 26th because of the Grand Canaria marathon I ran that weekend, so I was SUPER LUCKY to have caught him at his in-store gig at Rough Trade East. This Irishman has pipes that could make the gods weep, no joke. HELLOOOO FALSETTO! (see the videos below if you don’t believe me) He’s also really goofy and made the audience laugh plenty of times with his stories of insomina, fear of flying, and joggin’ at 5 am in the morning when “all the weirdos are out.” It was really cool to meet this awesome human being, and to have him sign my album (although I almost took his sharpie by accident, haha). DO YOURSELF A FAVOR and get tropical, Post Tropical The first song (Cavalier) of this album is INCREDIBLE, as it Red Dust and Lookout. Thank gosh I had the speakers to lean against because I nearly FELL OVER when James hits that INSANELY HIGH NOTE during Red Dust at 3:30 in.

“Sometime my hands, they don’t feel like my own
I need someone to love, I need someone to hold…”

Another favorite, Look Out, sent me on cloud to far away places. A perfect song for the occasional day dream. 😛

“You’ll be lucky once, when the fall listen to send around.
When the sun comes, dry tears from my eyes.
So you come around as the weather starts to change,
and you settle in. And the best has yet been made.”

Then there was one of my favorites from his first album, Down the Burning Ropes, which has so many twists and turns and is bound to keep you engaged.

“Down the burning ropes
Past the places where the steal beams meet concrete skies
You make your bed under the moonlight
I think it’s time we said goodbye.”

Then came the EPIC We Don’t Eat track that I had fallen in love with 2 years ago and could not get enough of the beautiful piano into…(so much anticipation/emotion conveyed through those simple chords!)…This one speaks so much truth, and send shivers crawling down the spine (especially the third verse when the tempo picks up and James goes at it on the drums). My favorite line (“I’d rather be working for something, than praying for the rain“) builds up to the chorus that we all know by heart:

“We don’t eat until your father’s at the table
We don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust
Never once has any man I’ve met been able to love
So if I were you my friend, I’d learn to have just a little bit of trust.” (TRUTH)

Unfortunately James only had time for one more, and I think we all knew it would be Cavalier, the star of his new album.

“I remember my first love..”

Such a stunning (yes, I said it) song. Very much for the sexy time. Reminds me of bit of Volcano Choir‘s (side project of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon) new album, Repave (also one to check out!)

 

VIDEOS:

Red Dust:

Cavalier:

We Don’t Eat:

Look Out:

Down The Burning Ropes:

PICTURES:

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