Luke Sital-Singh: “I’ve got a 21st century heartbeat. It’s a dying voice, it still haunts me. 21st century heartbeat, holding on” – The Fillmore (12-3-17)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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So lucky to have caught Luke Sital-Singh after his beautiful, non-“depressing” set opening for Angus and Julia Stone at The Fillmore last night. I remember first discovering him at Communion Music events back in 2013. Was a pleasure I was to hear his lovely tracks (especially ‘21st century heartbeat‘!) and to chat with him about touring with one of my other favorite London artists, The Staves. So glad that learn about his music journey since then and recent tour of the states. What a nice guy!

“I’ve got a 21st century heartbeat It’s a dying voice, it still haunts me 21st century heartbeat holding on”

Luke said this song as being inspired but all of the “f*cked up things happening in the world.” Such a beaut. Probably my favorite of his set. ❤

 

Nick Mulvey: “Cause you got lost in comparison Always pretending you knew When everything you were looking for Was already looking at you… This moment is a mountain to move…Wake up now” – Swedish American Hall (Nov 17, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

I couldn’t believe when Nick Mulvey said “I’ve seen you before!” after his Swedish American Hall show on Nov 17. He musta remembered the puppet face! I was hooked ever since that first night at Barfly and just kept showing up everywhere he played, from Green Man Festival to Shepards Bush empire (opening for Laura Marling) to O2 Brixton Academy (opening for London Grammar) to XOYO (where he played with the talented Fiona Bevan). His song ‘Fever to the Form‘ was legitimately my LIFE ANTHEM for most of 2013-2014, and that first verse “So whether music or madness, We live by one of the two… So Go on an fill your heart with gladness, not a moment too soon” will forever be my GUIDING LIGHT. It is a TIMELESS TRACK that I know will still bring me the same peace of mind and clarity (“cause the very thing you’re afraid, afraid of, It keeps you clean but unclear”) 20 years from now as it did back in 2013. ‘Fever to the Form’ was released alongside other tops tracks (First Mind, I Don’t Want to Go Home, Meet Me There, Juramidam, Cucurucu) on his debut album, First Mind, which was nominated for a Mercury Prize (well deserved!) in 2014. Nick has become a dad since the release of that album, and he considers this step to have had a positive influence on his music writing: “Putting music as a secondary priority to that (the challenge of making new music) was a really healthy thing for me.” Well, we are glad to reap the benefits of that positive influence, for his newest (sophomore) album, Wake Up Now, is freaking AWESOME. Standout tracks for me are: Mountain to Move, Remembering, In Your Hands, Transform Your Game, and Unconditional. In fact, Nick has a really cool story to go along with ‘Mountain to Move’ and I hope he continues to share it during his live performances. Cheers to the super talented British musician who studied music in Cuba and who continues to weave styles from all over the world into his musical quilt. ❤

 

More Nick Mulvey videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/eandreoz/search?query=nick+mulvey

*Check out full videos from the night on my YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/eandreoz

Instagram: beatsthatsetmypulse
Twitter: @beatsthatsetmy

 

Local Natives – “Save me, from the prime of my life”: the Greek Theater in Berkeley (July 28, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi
(more pics and videos below)

Stoked to have FINALLY caught Local Natives on local land after last seeing them in Edinburgh (Electric Circus), Wales (Green Man Festival), and London (Brixton Academy) back in 2013. That year spoiled me silly, and the memories I have from those shows almost (almost) make up for the 3 ½ year hiatus. Seeing them in that tiny 250, venue in Edinburgh had me on cloud nine for WEEKS, and the fact that I bumped into Taylor (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan (guitar/vocals), and Nik (bass, keys, vocals) that same night for a “wee chat” was also pretty freaking amazing. Then they were announced to play Green Man, a super casual festival where it’s not too uncommon to spot bands hanging out in the crowd watching other bands (and yes, I was indeed lucky enough to find myself dancing next to them during one of the sets). A few months later was their London show at Brixton Academy, and although it was not nearly as intimate as the Edinburgh one, I was happy to have met Kelcey after the show with my best friend Amanda (who was visiting from Philly). Pics below.

Fast forward to last Friday (7/28) at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, and I am grinning ear-to-ear as I wait to bask myself in the beauty of their Sunlit Youth (2016 album). I nearly DIED when they opened with ‘Past Lives,’ a song that slayed me from the start with it’s opening line, “Save me from the prime of my life” (which I am considering as a text tattoo). I love the capricious cadence to this song and the piercing percussion after the chorus of “Then you wake up.” YAAAAAS.  😀

Taylor had us smiling wide when he dedicated the next song (‘Villiany’) to his 1 ½ year old niece Emma, it being her first ever show – he said this one was her favorite! He even posted a clip of her shaking her booty to it in the crowd on Instagram the day after.

Kelcey then asks the audience if anyone is from SF state, and then laughs as he admits wanting to go to Berkeley but only getting into SF state. He then introduced their next song, ‘Airplanes,’ as one he wrote after leaving SF state and heading back to Los Angeles. He followed up with a special version of the hauntingly beautiful, somber tune, ‘Columbia’ (“Am I loving enough?”), that he said the SF Bay Area has never heard before. Tears def welled up in my eyes.

They then surprised us with a new song called ‘I Saw You Close Your Eyes,’ which is KILLER and one I connected with right away. Their new song, ‘The New Heirs’ is also pretty siiiiick too. Next came ‘Jellyfish’, ‘Heavy Feet’, ‘Dark Days’ (with Ryan filling in for the female vocal part and turning heads with his perfect pitch) and ‘Who Knows, Who Cares,’ a song that references “going down to Colorado” — pretty eerie considering that the band recently visited the Colorado river in Arizona to advocate water conservation in Episode 103 of the nature series, Earthworks. This was a project they felt very strongly about, considering that the Colorado river is the main sources of water for California, a state near in dear to their heart and one that is in the 6th year of the worst, most epic drought in modern history (compounded further by climate change and population increases). Aside from showing activism on the water conservation and green energy front, Local Natives have made it a point to show activism on the political front. In fact, Taylor was involved in a panel called the “Politicon” at the Pasadena Convention (July 28/29). That night, Taylor reminds us (during his intro to ‘Fountain of Youth’) that the power is in the hands of the future generation:

“This next song has the idea that it’s the new generation every single time that gets to decide where the world is going to go. It’s the new generation that can see it for what it is an i think pushes it where we want it to be and for us, we just wanted to say, especially being here where, that idea idea was birthed a lot for America, that we have a choice to choose unity and to choose love and respect and respect for everybody. And we would just like to push that forward, no matter what you can do, your influence on the world, we would just like to push for that. “

“We can do whatever we want… We can say whatever we mean…

And if we don’t change, Then who’ll change?

We’ve been dreaming of you, Drinking from fountains of youth.”

(Hell YES. Power to the people)

Cheers to a band that uses the stage to motivate change for the greater good. I have so much respect and adoration for these local natives Cali pride). Stay humble, stay hungry. Stay thirsty for that “Fountain of Youth.” Taylor, quenched by this fountain of youth, dives into the crowd for a bit of surf and then lies on his back, projecting peace and love to all like a prophet.

In true Local Natives fashion, they end the night leaving us in good hands – ‘Sun Hands.’ The energy and aura of this epic encore never fails to disappoint.

All Local Natives fans must check out Kelcey’s new solo project called Jaws of Love. His debut album, Tasha Sits Close To The Piano, named by his wife after their dog Tasha, is coming in the fall, and earlier this month. The lead single, ‘Jaws Of Love,’ is simply stunning — Kelcey’s falsetto vocals elevating over deep, brooding piano ballads. “The whole project is me trying to embrace my nuances and indulge in it,” Ayer explains. “It was such an awesome release making these songs, and that let me embrace who I feel like I am. It was wonderful to not have to explain myself to anyone. I have dark piano music in my heart and soul, and Jaws Of Love. is me at my truest self.” We certainly approve. ❤

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=fRukQSwDKP0

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*Check out more videos on my YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/eandreoz

Instagram: beatsthatsetmypulse
Twitter: @beatsthatsetmy

Jake Morley: “Headstrong…Always used to be so headstrong…Now all I seem to do is falter…”

Jake Morley– The Lexington (May 24, 2014)

I go to A LOT of gigs (everyone knows that), but last night was one of the first times I ever came across a singer/songwriter (Jake Morely) with such breadth- a true amalgamation of various styles. Every song of Jake Morley‘s set had it’s own unique flavor, from funk to folk to gospel. Funny enough, he elaborates on why this is: “I set out to write varied songs because I’m a varied person. Also – I’m only just getting started, so I wanted my first album to act as an introduction. The songs on Many Fish To Fry are just like me – in parts heavy, light, elated, confused, serious, funny, random and whatever else. In isolation they might just be fragments, but put the fragments together and they hopefully form a coherent whole. That’s the idea anyway. After we’re best buds I can always make other albums that look at certain areas in more depth.”  I especially like when he laid his guitar flat across his lap, combining fingertaps with percussive slaps. The only artists I’d ever known to do that were Andy McKeeBen Howard, and Daniel Champagne, and I remember being utterly amazed. Jake’s set our to record some more new songs this summer, and from the ones he played last night, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. One of my favorites was a song called Falter (aka ‘Headstrong’), where he unveils yet another bag of tricks: “Flicking your fingers across all the strings one after the other to make a harp-like sound.” https://vine.co/v/M9TWzVb5EzM  I remember thinking this was THE COOLEST THING because I’m a huge fan of the harp, and a it’s rare to find many harpists these days. I can’t wait to hear the full song and the FULL ALBUM. xxx

PICTURES:

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Mogwai: “Music is so powerful that it’s quite beyond my control…and when I’m in the grips of it I don’t feel pleasure and I don’t feel pain.”

Mogwai– KOKO, London

(July 29, 2014)

I had always heard that Mogwai was an incredibly SOLID BAND and one of Scotland’s FINEST, but for some reason, I let them slip under my radar (which is pretty surprising considering my hearty appetite for Scottish bands: Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, Admiral Fallow, Three Blind Wolves, Washington Irving, We Were Promised Jetpacks, RM Hubbert, Fatherson, Bwani Junction, CHVRCHES). I remember I was going to see Mogwai at Sasquatch music festival back in May 2012, but they cancelled last minute due to visa/travel issues. Looking back, I can’t even IMAGINE hearing/watching their ethereal music emanate over the Gorge’s siiiiiiiiick celestial skyline. MY GOD. Seeing them and Explosions in the Sky on one weekend might have shattered my brain to bits, and maybe it was for the best…NOT. If it wasn’t for The Twilight Sad (one of my favorite Scottish bands) announcing a benefit concert with them to honor the loss of Julia Brightly, I might not have traveled down MogWAY (thankfully I did). The benefit was the idea of Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai and Daveid Phillips from KOKO, and the message they posted on their ticket page was:

“On Saturday 3rd May, ​we were devastated to learn of the passing of our beautiful friend Julia Brightly who lost her struggle to sudden illness (cancer). To say all of us were in shock is a huge understatement.  Anyone who knew her from the days of the Mute Drivers to any artists she did sound for, from Mogwai, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Caribou to Slint and her friends & family will all agree, she was one of the bravest and most talented people we were lucky enough to call a friend. We all miss her dearly, and although sadly departed she will never be forgotten. In her honour we are staging a benefit to donate all the proceeds to one of Julia’s favourite charities, Gendered Intelligence – something very close to Julia’s heart…All proceeds from the concert will be donated to GenderedIntelligence.co.uk.” SUCH an amazing idea and generous offer by both bands, and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of it.

After a brilliant set by The Twilight Sad (they keep getting better and better every time I see them), I anxiously anticipated this “post-rock instrumental band” that I had been hearing alot about. I recall meeting a guy at The Twilight Sad’s Bandstand Busking event (June 21) telling me that Mogwai was his FAVORTE BAND OF ALL TIME and that he’s seen them 11 TIMES NOW (including traveling to Primavera Sound Music festival every year they’ve played). Well, let me tell you…I can TOTALLY see WHY he’s seen them that insane amount of times, and whey he’s harnessed an addiction for their hypnotic concoction of music. I am STILL LEVITATING from Tuesday night’s performance at KOKO, and my EYES HURT (literally, I’ve had sore eyes since) from how long I’d kept them WIDE-EYED (buggin out!) during the entire set. I was lucky enough to soak up all the magic from the very front, and might just have collapsed if the railing was not there. Serious adrenaline. Serious numbing. Serious loss of motor control.

It’s hard to describe the beauty of the compositions that Mogwai create– their music steal snippets of magic from genres like shoegazing, math rock, art rock and occasionally instrumental metal. It was once stated in an interview that “the band do not like the categorisation of post-rock” because they believe it “over-analyzes everything.” I definitely agree, and many times I’ve found that the most beautiful things in life are often the hardest (and sometimes impossible) to describe. What I CAN SAY it is seems to me like symphonic music made with rock instruments, similar to Explosions in the Sky, but with alot more distorted guitar (which I LOVE). I was lucky enough to see Explosions in the Sky both at Sasquatch music festival (2012) and at the Palace of Fine Arts theater (sick, I know). More recently, I’ve seen 65daysofstatic and sleepmakeswaves, two other bands who I can draw some parallels to Mogwai.

I was so BLOWN AWAY by how adroit and technically-sound all of Mogwai‘s band members were, and how flawlessly they would exchange instruments like they were PLAYING A GAME OF CATCH.  In the absence of lyrics, it’s obvious they all communicate through their unique instrumental dialogue: raging riffs, piercing percussion, tantalizing trill, disturbing distortion, bellowing base…(You get the picture). Having formed in 1995, Mogwai (…MogWAY…MogWOW) has craft their craft into the music scene for nearly two decades now, and their talented cast includes: Stuart Braithwaite (guitar, vocals), John Cummings (guitar, vocals), Barry Burns (guitar, piano, synthesizer, vocals), Dominic Aitchison (bass guitar), and Martin Bulloch (drums). The spot I chose to stand (front left facing the stage) just happened to be directly across from John Cummings, who is one to stand the farthest out on stage (and I’m not complaining). BUT, the COOLEST THING about this band is that there IS NO FRONTMAN. They ALL alternate in taking “center-stage,” and it’s not like all the focus is can be on the singer (cause they don’t have one!). I love this concept.

The entire set was MIND-BLOWING (did I mention that already?), but the first song to strike a chord in me was White Noise, (see video below) off their 2011 album, ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.’ I loved being right in front of John Cumming’s guitar greatness, especially for this song, where you can’t help but sink into the mellowing monotony of his undulating riff. You then find yourself sinking deeper into this wave at 2 min in, when Stuart layers on an additional guitar riffs that stagger John’s in all the right places. I wish all WHITE NOISE sounded THIS GOOD. But, we must be honest with ourselves…this “noise” is “in fact the brilliant music of a genius.” It’s fusion of complex sound is guaranteed to stimulate a level of curiosity that is beyond our control.

I also recall the 5th SONG being one of my FAVORITES of the night, and I’m a bit upset I didn’t get it on video. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I found out later (from that guy I met who’s seen them 11 times) that this 5th song is called Christmas Steps, and that it’s one they HARDLY EVER play live. Well then…I must have a pretty DAMN GOOD FILTER, cause I put this on the top of my list without ever haven’t listened to their albums (although now that’s definitely changed now). I just remember gentle guitar melody in the beginning suddenly become devoured but a BABBLING BASELINE at about 4 min in, and the clashing contrast was just freaking phenomenal. The plucking of the base strings in that one was like something I’d never seen before. BRUTAL ATTACK. (So good).

Nearly right after Christmas Steps was Autorock, the piano powerhouse off Mogwai’s 2006 album, ‘Mr Beast.’ The piano riff starts out soft (well, For Mogwai’s standards), and slowly builds volume and intensity throughout, keeping us VERY MUCH on our TIPTOES the entire time. Barry Burns banging on those keys was definitely a “MR BEAST” in this one. xx

Then came Remurdered, a popular gem off Mogwai’s newest album, ‘Rave Tapes’ (released October 2013). This album, by the way, entered the UK album charts at #10 and as of April 2014 has been the best selling UK album released in 2014 in terms of vinyl sales. WELL DESERVED. I currently can’t get enough of Remurdered, and it’s def going to be the title track of my next playlist.

Immediately following this one was Helicon 1, one of Mogwai’s best from their debut album, ‘Ten Rapid.’ I knew this one was gonna be SOMETHING SPECIAL when Stuart took a seat. It reminds me so much of an Explosions in the Sky song, but more distorted guitar (as I mentioned before). YAAAAAAAS. Grip me with that kinda distortion any day. A flood of adrenaline at ~4 min in, and everything becomes numb. xxx

With only two more songs left, my brain could NOT EVEN HANDLE all of the stimulation/euphoria I was experiencing. My eyes were bugging out of my head and tearing (thank gosh cause I’m sure they would have dried out), and I was left speechless. SPEECHLESS (and anyone who knows me knows that I ALWAYS have something to say!)…It was so cool to later share my REVELATION with the girls standing and me, including someone I had met previously at a Twilight Sad gig (see our huge smiles below). Then, I later saw that Mogwai music buddy (who had seen Mogwai 11 times) on the tube that night and basically let our ENTIRE TRAIN CART know how I felt about the life-changing gig. (I tried to subdue my squeal and number of “holy shit”‘s…)

Since that gig (see set-list below), I have downloaded all Mogwai albums and been listening non-stop. This new discovery truly came at an ideal time, and with an insane amount of scientific data to soon tie up, their music offers the perfect mindscape. I was all excited to analyze my 100+ brain images yesterday, knowing that I had this MogWOW feast to dig into. Just like they state in their Postpunk song, “Music is so powerful that it’s quite beyond my control…and when I’m in the grips of it I don’t feel pleasure and I don’t feel pain, either physically or emotionally…when you just couldn’t feel anything, and you didn’t want to either.”  YES….I know EXACTLY what you mean. And although you might not be conscious of how Mogwai’s music is making you feel WHILE listening, you later realize that it’s seeped into your subconsious will all sorts of healing powers.

I’m on such a Mogwai kick right now that I’m vacilating between the decision of seeing them (or not) at Richmond Park in Glasgow as part of East End Social’s ‘Last Big Weekend.’ Not only will it be one of their last announced gigs of the year, BUT, it will be IN THEIR HOMETOWN. I can’t EVEN IMAGINE that musical “MogWOW” madness…. (I’m most likely GONNA GO)  🙂

VIDEOS:

Helicon 1:

Autorock:

White Noise:

PICTURES:

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Little Green Cars: “It’s easy to give it to, When there’s more people out there to love…Than people who love you”

Little Green Cars– Sebright Arms, London
(August 22, 2013)

After first being blown away by this Dublin-based indie/folk quintet (Little Green Cars) at The Great Escape back in May (see pics below), I HAD to see them again when they were playing at one of my favorite tiny venue (Sebright Arms) in London. Even though the gig happened to be the night before I needed to head out early on a bus up to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, I still put on the champion face and powered through (not at all packed, exhausted from lab). It ended up being SO WORTH the diehard effort because this year’s best. Not only was I able to grab a spot RIGHT in front of Faye and feel the energy of her freaking INCREDIBLE PIPES first hand, but I was able to get a good chat in with her afterwards. That night, she told me that she notices EVERY ONE IN THE ROOM– the wide-eyed, bobblehead (me) in the front mouthing along to the vocals, the asshole in back talking to his friend during the song, etc. She said that she SEES EVERYONE in that audience, and that the vibe from the fans really influence their performance and can make/break the gig. She was also telling me that they were exhausted from a recent tour in the states (including festivals like SXSW, Coachella, Bonnaroo), and that they would be heading back there again soon for another round. They are signed to an American label called Glassnote Records (Temper Trap, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Vampire Weekend) and thus they have a larger fanbase in the states because their debut album (Absolute Zero) was released their firt. I gave and Chris (the keyboardist) some suggestions about San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest, and in exchange they gave me some tips about Ireland. Faye told me I needed to visit again and needed to go back for the ‘Other Voices‘ music event in Dingle in June.  Little Green Cars played there for the 2012-2013 series, along with Daughter, Laura Marling, John Grant, Villagers, Neil Hannon, Savages, and Beth Orton.

Kicking off the set with Harper LeeLittle Green Cars then moved on to Angel Owl, one of my favorites from the album. “Only at night, does my angel sing…Ooooh…Oooooh.” Such a siiiick vocal arrangement for this one. Please is another make you plead for more of Faye’s vocals (maybe it’s not a coincidence that it’s called ‘Please’): “Please believe my lies…At least I know you gave it your best try.”

They then shocked the audience with a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘I’m on Fire’, for which the vocal arrangement was so awesome. It really captured the breadth of Faye’s pipes, and I think Bruce would approve. Not only did they cover one of my favorite songs (“I’m on fire”) by THE BOSS, but they covered a song about my hometown (‘Philadelphia‘) written by the legend non other than Sir Neil Young (he might as well be music royalty). Crazy odds!

Next up came ‘My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me, and Faye’s voice SOARS on this one. Such powerful pipes for her lil’ frame! I’m so glad I was parked right in front of her for this one, cause the power of those pipes COULD BE FELT!

Even though this gig was specifically set to be an “acoustic set,” Stevie stripped it down EVEN MORE by going into the crowd with his guitar unamped and leading the rest to follow with no mice. The band ended the intimate, acoustic set by playing The John Wayne in the center of the crowd and encouraging everyone to sing alone. A very heartfelt encore (see video below):

“It’s easy to fall in love
It’s easy to be alone
It’s easy to hate yourself
when all your love is inside someone else
It’s easy to take it all
It’s easy to give it to
when there’s more people out there to love
than people who love you.” (TRUTH.)

That was a hard night of music to top, and I look forward to more unexpected treats like this. ❤

VIDEOS:

Harper Lee:

Angel Owl:

Please:

I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover):

Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen cover):

My Love Took Me Down to the River to Silence Me:

The John Wayne:

PICTURES:

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Little Green Cars– The Great Escape, Brighton
(May 16, 2013)

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Ben Howard: “So happy hearted in the warmth…Free as a bird that flies.”

Ben Howard– The Independent (May 31, 2013)

Ben Howard, one of my FAVORITE singer/songwriters of all time who I discovered waaaaay before (from my buddy in the UK) he was known in the states (now a global icon). So glad I got to see him twice (Sasquatch music festival and The Independent) before he blew up in the states. His story is very much a Cinderella one, and it’s cool to think the he was a hard-core surfer (Cornwall’s coast) that never thought his campfire guitar sessions with friends at the beach could ever lead to global RockSTARDOM. We have London’s independent record label, Communion, for scooping him up early and helping him develop international success. He’s now already headlined many major festivals (Bestival, Latitude, Green Man, GLASTONBURY…) and has won many critically acclaimed awards all over the world. His fan base has grown IMMENSELY since seeing him back in the states (May 2012), and so seeing him a year later at Summer Stampede (London) and Green Man (Brecon Beacon, Wales) was a much different experience. In fact, I met two girls up at Sumer Stampede who came all the way from SWEDEN to see Ben (since their Peace and Love festival was cancelled). People from ALL OVER THE WORLD to become “so happy hearted in the warmth….free as a bird that flies.”

VIDEOS:

Only Love:

Promise:

Black Flies:

Old Pine:

PICTURES:

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Ben Howard– The Independent (May 31, 2013)

Ben Howard had been on my radar for over a year and so to see him TWICE IN ONE WEEK at Sasquatch and The Independent was absolutely SURREAL. He is seriously one of the most TALENTED and unbelievably HUMBLE musicians I’ve seen. Last night was even further confirmation that I am in love with his music, and everything he represents. And better yet that I got to share it with Jen!  🙂

He opened the show with Depth Over Distance, an unreleased song that showcases his lap top percussion-style guitar skills. (SO GOOD, and wish I got a video!)….Another unreleased song that I love of his is called Soldier. MAGICAL, just magical…

VIDEOS:

Old Pine:

Only Love:

“Untitled”:

The Wolves:

Everything:

Black Flies:

Keep Your Head Up (Part 1):

Keep Your Head Up (Part 2):

Promise:

The Fear:

PICTURES:

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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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Alex Vargas- “So hammer on my heartstrings, Come on get your fill”

Alex Vargas The Lexington, London

(May 23, 2014)

The Guardian recently cited Alex Vargas as “one of the most impressive white soul voices since Steve Winwood and Robert Palmer,” and I could not agree MORE. His sold-out performance last night at The Lexington had you WEAK AT THE KNEES, despite his initial remark to the crowd: “It’s Friday night! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ALL DOING HERE?!” (very endearing). It’s Alex’s unique pipes and soulful HOWLIN’ that make him stand out above most troubadours his age, and it’s very fitting for ‘Howl‘ to be the title of his recent EP. He describes ‘Howl‘ as a collection of personal songs “For my loved ones, and some lost ones.” The title track WILL give you goosebumps. His howlin’ has ME HOWLIN’! Raised in Denmark but of British/Uruguayan descent, Alex has been living in London for almost 10 years and is now finally reaping the rewards of his exhaustive circuit of open mic nights. He recently had two sell-out headline tours, and now is in high demand. It turns out he is very good friends and roommates with another London artist ( also fathered by Communion) who was on the lineup for Communion’s Bushstock this year: Jack Garratt. I ran into Alex at Jack Garratt’s debut EP (Remant’s) launch at The Waiting Room last night, and he said that him and the band are working on recording and hope to have another headline gig in October. That might be the last one I see in London!

VIDEOS:

Solid Ground:

Winter Snow:

Howl:     (my favorite!)

Walking on the Wire:

PICTURES:

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Hozier- “The only heaven I’ll be sent to, Is when I’m alone with you.”

Hozier– Bushstock, London

(June 14, 2014)

I first heard about Hozier from a friend back in the states who saw him in Los Angeles (sold out gig) and fell in love…with the music of course! Andrew ‘Hozier’-Byrne is from Wicklow, Ireland, and had been exposed to Celtic, soul, jazz, and blues music growing up; he then studied music at Trinity College in Dublin, teachingt himself to play guitar and piano. Partway through college, he dropped out to focus on his nourishing his craft full time. He realized that the best environment for writing music was at “home,” where he could properly reflect on the world and reflect THOSE REFLECTIONS back onto the world through song. 

When asked about this topic, he says: “Listen to any song, from any era; and you’re looking through a keyhole into the artist’s world as seen through their eyes. Art is, in it’s simplest form, the reproduction of the world around us. All artists reproduce their vision of the world, and in doing so create a document that reflects the times they live in”.

The first songs that Hozier ever released were through his first EP,  ‘Take Me To Church.’ This included Take Me to Church (the lead track), Angel Of Small DeathLike Real People Do, and Cherry Wine. He apparently recorded all of these songs LIVE, meaning outside on a rooftop amidst nature (yes, that bird chirping in Cherry Wine is REAL), and played all of the instruments.

That ‘Take Me To Church’ EP alone had me itching to see him live, but then the release of his ‘Eden‘ EP…and from that point, I was head over heels. As a singer/songwriter, Hozier’s impressive vocal range and his adroit guitar skills enable him to embody elements of folk, blues, and gospel. Now, with a backing band (bassist, drummer, keyboardist, cellist), he is able to blur the lines between those music genres even more. Within only a few months from releasing his debut EPs, Hozier was announced to headline Communion’s Bushstock festival on June 14. With him and Alexi Murdoch as the main acts, I IMMEDIATELY got tickets.

Having planted myself on the ground in front of the stage for Alexi Murdoch, I had prime real estate for Hozier‘s set (immediately following Alexi). Hozier and his band kicked off the set with Like Real People Do, a song that makes me melt like butter:

“I will not ask you where you came from
I will not ask you and neither should you

Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips
We should just kiss like real people do..” (DYING)

The sound wasn’t the greatest for the first few songs (where was the sound engineer?!), but it was still AMAZING…(see video below)

Next up in the set was Angel of Small Death, another Hozier gem (video below) that has such a fun chorus to sing along to.

Hozier‘s band then left the stage for the next one, To Be Alone, and DAAAAAMN it felt good TO BE ALONE with the Irishman with PIPES THAT PULSE: “It feels good, girl, GIRL it feels good…To be alone with you…”
His howling at 2 min in sent instant shivers down the spine. DAMN. What a VOICE. (the sexy guitar ditty was pretty hot too…)

The band came back and joined Hozier for what he introduced as Work Song, explaining that it was very much a “work in progress for a long time,” and “we couldn’t think of a better name.” Well, it was surely worth the wait. What a beaut.

“When, my, time comes around
Lay me gently in the cold dark earth
No grave can hold my body down
I’ll crawl home to her..”

BUT, the song that had us PRAYING FOR MORE was the popular crowd pleaser,  Take Me to Church“The only heaven I’ll be sent to, Is when I’m alone with you.” SLAYED. Following up on this was a cover of Amerie’s One ThingHozier introduced this as something “fun” that they tried out for a radio show. Would have never expected him to cover a pop song like that! So funny!

Then, it was time for the magic to end. Hozier‘s CHILLY ENCORE of From Eden left us all weak at the knees leaving St. Stephen’s Church. I was the googly-eyed chick in front with my jaw dropped (and probably drool…) I know for sure I wasn’t the only one!

“Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?

Babe, there’s something lonesome about you
Something so wholesome about you
Get closer to me.” (YES)

For this gig, I definitely got as close as I could (aside from being ON STAGE), and I don’t think it will be easy to get this close again. His fan base is just going to keep EXPLODING more and more, ESPECIALLY when he releases his first debut album. x

VIDEOS:

Like Real People Do:

Angel of Small Death:

To Be Alone:

Work Song:

Take Me to Church:

One Thing (Amerie cover):

From Eden:

PICTURES:


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Kings of Convenience- “Love is just a game we’re both playing and we can’t get enough of…”

Kings of Convenience– Green Man, South Wales

(Aug 16, 2013)

Kings of Convenience are an Indie folk/pop due from Bergen, Norway that are known for their delicate tunes, soothing vocals, and intricate guitar melodies. Anytime I listen to their songs, I mentally escape to peaceful place where nothing matters but enjoying the present moment. Their songs always seem to remind me of the simple things in life, and the matra: “It’s simple to be happy, but it’s difficult to be simple.”

After having listening to their stuff for a few years, I was so excited to finally see them at the Roundhouse in London. I go their super early so I would be able to enjoy the show from the front (makes all the difference!), and luckily I was able to get two videos (see below) of my top favorites: ‘Homesick‘ and ‘Mrs. Cold.’ ‘Homesick’ always reminds me of my good friend Gina who I always used to sing this with when we were missing home: “Homesick…cause I no longer know where home is.”  (ugh, soooo good)

Mrs. Cold was not only a pleasure to hear (I LOVE the guitar ditty), but a pleasure to WATCH as well. Erland was SO entertaining, and his dancing jig was so adorable. (I couldn’t stop laughing!) The very clever lyrics that always HOOK me in this one are: “You should’ve hooked me, before I put my raincoat on” and OF COURSE the ending: “What is love? Love is just a game we’re both palying and we can’t get enough of.”  ❤

Other favorites of mine that they played that night were: Misread, Cayman Islands, Singing Softly to Me, I Don’t Know What I Can Save you From, Toxic Girl

Right before their encore, Erland greets the audience and with a certain coolness/confidence makes this announcement: “Life is full of terrible moments. This is not one if them.” One of the BEST LINES I’ve heard from a band before ending their show. Kings of Convenience BLEW ME AWAY. Some of the greatest guitar and vocal harmonies I’ve ever seen. Glad I could catch them in London after a long awaited hiatus, and then a few months later at Green Man festival in Wales, where I was lucky enough to watch them (only me an a few others) do a practice show while getting ready for their headliner performance that night. It PAYS OFF to be alert in the campsite during the early hours of a festival!  😛

PICTURES:

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Kings of Convenience– The Roundhouse, London

(May 15, 2013)

VIDEOS:

Homesick:

Mrs. Cold:

PICTURES:

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Half Moon Run- “She wants to know just who I am…She can make you work for the worth that she has”

Half Moon Run– Rough Trade, London

(January 31, 2013)

Half Moon Run (my favorite new disocvery of 2013) is a talented young band from Canada that was born out of hardships/desperation in Montreal’s Mile-End district. The original trio (now quartet) were motivated to create a unique sound restless indie, pop and folk layered with beautiful rhythmic harmonies, delicate guitar lines and subtle electronica.

Devon Portielje’s remarkable voice is beautifully backed up by Connor Molander and Dylan Phillips. Phillips often plays drums and keys simultaneously as Molander and Portielje shuffle between guitar, keys, samplers, and percussion. Just last year (2013), picked up a 4th member, multi-instrumentlist Isaac Symonds, who adds vocals, guitar, mandolin, keyboards and percussion. Altogether, the create a soundscape of folk harmonies with psychedelic arrangements and a hint of Radiohead-esque electronica. The selling point for me was when they used TRIPLE DRUMS (staggered “hocketing” style) for their huge hit, ‘Call Me in the Afternoon.’  The only other bands I have seen do triple drums since then are The Boxer Rebellion (song called ‘New York’) and Wild Cub (song called ‘Thunder Clatter’). I am STILL LEVITATING from their performance at Village Underground (first time I saw them), and had to see them THREE MORE TIMES (Green Man, O2 Shepard’s Bush, Rough Trade East) when they were touring through the UK that same year.

They are just an insanely talented musicians with siiiiiiick stage presence and dramatic gestures that ooze all sort of sexiness. They seem SO COMFORTABLE with the crowd (always engaging with us), and it might have something to do with the fact that they toured for a few years in Canada before they came over here to play.  And there are so many layers of sounds that I never know what beat to move my body to! It’s hard to pick favorites, but I must say that Call Me In the Afternoon, She Wants to Know, Give Up, Judgement, Full Circle, Fire Escape, and 21 Gun Salute are on the top. I also really enjoy their acoustic, folk-driven cover of Pink Mountaintop‘s Creature, which they always save for the end and bring a wooden board out on stage to create fierce, feverish STOMPS. Plus, it’s one of the only songs they whip out the lovely mandolin for.

It happened to be CRAZY ODDS that my FAVORITE NEW BAND of 2013 (Half Moon Run) were playing ON MY BIRTHDAY (see videos/pics of the O2 Shepard’s Bush gig in November). Very lucky lady indeed! My head was BOBBING AROUND non-stop (like a true Bobblehead) from all the hypnotic beats, seductive guitar lines, and sexy vocals. Restless elements of indie, pop, & folk fused together to create an irresistible sound. Not to mention that they could basically win an academy award for their animation on stage. Devon (lead vocals) was SLAYING HIS GUITAR so hard that he actually CUT HIS FINGERS on the strings and continued to play with BLOOD SMEARING ALL ACROSS THE SHAFT. That’s DIE HARD right there, and I was right in front to see it unfold before my eyes. 

In the end, I was VERY LUCKY to have met these magic makers (see pic of me and Devon below) at both Green Man and Rough Trade East, and I CAN’T WAIT to see them again when they play the British Summertime Festival at Hyde park this Saturday (July 12, 2014) with Neil Young, The National, Tom Odell, and Lucy Rose.

VIDEOS:

21 Guns Salute:

Judgement:

Unofferable:

Call Me in the Afternoon:

She Wants to Know:

PICTURES:

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Half Moon Run– O2 Shepard’s Bush Empire, London

(Nov 18, 2103)

BEST BIRTHDAY TREAT EVER!!! Front & center for my FAVORITE NEW BAND OF 2103. ❤

VIDEOS:

Turn Your Love:

Unofferable:

Need it:

Give Up:

Full Circle:

She Wants to Know (beginning):

Vampire (Pink Mountaintop cover):

PICTURES:

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Half Moon Run– Green Man, Wales (Aug 18, 2103)

VIDEOS:

Full Circle:

PICTURES:

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Half Moon Run– Village Underground, London

(June 25, 2013)

VIDEOS:

Call me in the Afternoon:   (MY FAVORITE!)

Nerve:

Judgement:

Drug You:

Give Up:

She Wants to Know:

Vampire (Pink Mountain cover):

PICTURES:

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Lucy Rose: “And if we could back time, could we learn to live right?…”

Lucy Rose– Sebright Arms, London

(June 26, 2104)

I first saw/met Lucy Rose when opening for Bombay Bicycle club at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco back in Feb 2012 (see pics and videos below). I’ll never forget that she tapped me on the shoulder to get up onto the stage! My jaw dropped then, and later dropped even further when I first heard her hauntingly beautiful ‘Night Bus‘ ballad (video below). Her voice pierced me right away, bringing tears to my eyes (sounds dramatic but it was true). I remember saying hi after the show and being so lucky enough to snag a pic with the scarlet beauty (see below). I also remember her distinctly being shocked/surprised that anyone in the states even followed her music and knew who she was. WHAAAAAT?! (of course we did!)

 

Almost 3 years later, I see Lucy Rose again at a tiny, intimate (150 people, sold out in 4 min) pre-Glastonbury gig (she was picked to play the same stage as Metallica!) at the Sebright Arms in London. Talk about FULL CIRCLE. Now with a backing band and a much bigger/intense sound, her music has come SUCH a long way from those solo acoustic days which we all know and love. I was getting all emotional that night as she embraced her fans and teared up watching us enjoy the new tracks. Even with over 100,000 likes on Facebook, she’s still one of the most humble, down-to-earth, ADORABLE female artists I know. She makes EVERY FAN feel like they count, and that’s HARD TO DO. Not only did SHE REMEMBER ME from that San Francisco gig 3 years ago, but she told me that I couldn’t leave to go back and that I had to stay in London for the music scene. Difficult choice, girl! I do love the MUSIC MECCA that I London but one’s things for certain: I definitely “left my heart in San Francisco…” ❤

 

On the topic of traveling and living in different cities, I was teasing her when I mentioned that most of her new, unreleased songs (Sheffield, Koln) were named after different cities (see set list below). She laughed and in response was like, “Well, we travel ALOT! Haha.” This is very true, as they had been touring around the world for almost a year before stopping in Manilla (the Philippines) to play some gigs and take a bit of a band holiday. I told her that I loved the new songs, especially the one (‘Cover Up‘) that she recently posted online as a free download; I didn’t exactly take to it the first time I heard it recorded, but when I saw it live (TRIPLE DRUMS, maracas), and saw how much Lucy was embracing this ROCK OUT style, I couldn’t help but smile and rock out too. You could tell she was a bit nervous about how her fans would receive the new songs, so she really appreciated this postiive feedback. I also made sure to tell her she was she was very impressive on the keyboard (check out the video of ‘I Tried‘ below) even though she said it was an insturemnt she was only just learning. Maybe she got some private lessons from her good buddy, Rae Morris (who knew?!), another female artist I really enjoy..(Rae’s brother is Lucy’s manager!)…The music scene really is a SMALL WORLD when you think about how all the artists/bands are all linked! xx

VIDEOS:

Red Face:

Shiver:

I Tried:   *new, unreleased!

Bikes:

Watch Over:

PICTURES:

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Lucy Rose (supporting Bombay Bicycle Club):

The Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco (Feb 15, 2012)

VIDEOS:

Night Bus:

Red Face:

PICTURES:

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Junip- “Let these moments last…Could be gone so fast…Walking Lightly”

Junip– Village Underground, London

(May 13, 2013)

Ever since first hearing ‘Heartbeats‘, ‘Crosses‘, and ‘Killing for Love,’ over two year ago, I had been anxiously waiting to see Jose Gonzalez IN THE FLESH. Jose has always reminded me of a mix between Paul Simon and Cat Stevens, but with a bit of soemthing extra (something EXTRA SPECIAL). Having just released a new album  (Junip) in April 2103, I was MESMERIZED by all of the new songs played by Jose Gonzalez and his incredibly intoxicating Swedish folk/indie band (Junip) at the Village Underground in London. ‘Walking Lightly,’ ‘Your Life, your Call,’ ‘So Clear,’ and ‘ LINE OF FIRE‘ (especially) were my favorites of the new album, and I’m so glad I was able to get some of them on video (see below). Line of Fire gripped me with such a firm grasp that could NOT STOP listening to it for a good month thereafter, hence it being the title track to one of my playlists: https://beatsthatsetmypulse.wordpress.com/line-of-fire/. Although the lyrics bleed with desperation and despair (“What would you say, if you had to leave today?…leave everything behind…even though for once, you’re shining”), Jose’s calming, tranquil vocals somehow leave you feeling revived:

“Convince yourself
someone else
and fight from the world
your lack of confidence.
What you choose to believe in

….

No one else around you
no one to understand you
no one to hear your calls.
Look through all your dark corners
you’re backed up against the wall
step back from the line of fire.” 

Even amidst the dark undercurrents of the album, there were waves of optimism to keep us afloat. The dizzying trance of he organ and guitar have you shouting the chorus (“STEP BACK FROM THE LINE OF FIRE”) with Jose midway through, and you can’t help but feel resurrected by the end.

Another favorite from the new album that also struck a deep chord and helped levitate my wood was ‘Walking Lightly.’ The bubbly effervescent feeling of the intro (woodblocks, keyboards) makes feel like I am walking on air, and that I am a weightless being…just a passing shadow. Singing along with the lyrics helped me embrace my recent nomadic (living abroad and trying to explore as many countries as possible), because life does offer many fleeting opportunities that we many never get back:

“We’re all walking lightly
We’re all walking lightly
Let these moments last
Could be gone so fast   (TRUTH BE TOLD)

Walking lightly…”

Thrown into the mix of these new songs were some oldie but goodies, especially ‘Without You,’ for which I really enjoyed watching Jose’s adroit guitar work and the synchronized buildup of the guitar and keyboard.

So Clear‘ and ‘Your Life, Your Call‘ stood out as other gems from Junip’s new collection and I was again gripped by the tension (“Wherever you look, it’s always the same…So many people, and the same game”) in ‘So Clear,’ an propelled to join along when Jose sings the chorus (“If it’s alright with you, Then it’s alright with me,…And I feel so clear”). ‘Your Life, Your Call’ is a perfect follow-upto ‘So Clear,’ and triggers the realization life should not be wasted lamenting over regret or falling victim to situations which we have the power to change:

“It’s your life, it’s your call
Stand up or enjoy your fall
It’s your life, it’s your call
Stand up or enjoy your fall

Pull yourself together
Draw the line.”  

Not only did Jose Gonzales (of Junip) help us “step away from the line of fire” and convince us to start “walking lightly” by the end, but his single for the Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie had us “step outside…and leave it all behind.” ❤

VIDEOS:

Walking Lightly:

Without You:

Black Refuge:

Far Away:

Your Life, Your Call:

Always:

Tide:   (encore)

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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Sharon Van Etten- “We’ve been through better days, And you’ve tasted all my pain…Break my legs so I can’t walk to you…”

Sharon Van Etten– KOKO, London (June 5, 2014)

A review by Erica Andreozzi

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Getting to MEET SHARON the first time I ever saw her. It was at a tiny venue (Rickshaw Stop) in San Francisco, and was the night I passed my PhD defense. There’s no one else I’d rather spend me first night as a “Dr.” with! LOVE HER.

I remember as if it were yesterday. August 10, 2012. Not just the day I passed my thesis defense, but the day I got to see AND MEET one of my favorite female artists OF ALL TIME: Sharon Van Etten. Having started listening to her a year prior through an Irish buddy I met in Barcelona, I was immediately HOOKED by Epic and even later by the fierce grasp of their newer arrival, Tramp. A devout fan of the National since 2010, I was enamored by the thought of Aaron Dressner and Sharon sitting down together, mixing up some musical madness together in some Brooklyn studio. She speaks very highly of Aaron, and says it was he that taught her how to “communicate in the studio” and be “open to collaboration” (e.g. working with Beirut‘s Zach Condon and Wye Oak‘s Jenn Wassner) without “shying away from production.” “I feel like Aaron gave me a lot of tools and confidence to communicate with my band and it made me want to try something different sonically. I wanted to give the songs more space and not bury them in instrumentation. I really wanted to focus on the band and the space and the melodies.” You could definitely sense the extra dimension in Tramp, and even more so in her newest album, ‘Are We There‘ (released June 2014). For this album, Sharon rounded up a two more band members, Darren Jessee (of Ben Folds Five and Hotel Lights) and Brad Cook (from Megafaun), both joining alumni Heather Woods Broderick and Doug Keith. I remember Doug very well because I was standing RIGHT IN FRONT of him (arms reach away) at that Rickshaw Stop gig and was serenaded by his EPIC bowing of the guitar intro to ‘I’m Wrong’ (one of my favorites from their collection). CHILLS up and down my spine every time I hear that song, and the “tell my I’m worth all the miles you put on your car…” line always draws a tear. ‘I’m Wrong‘ and ‘Joke or a Lie,’ back-to-back ON REPEAT was instant therapy for me during the weeks leading up to my PhD defense, and am not sure I would have made it (in one piece) without these songs. That strong dependency on Sharon’s music was something I could not be more eager to share with her that night (after I passed)…AND I DID (hence the picture above). Normally I would have been nervous to approach her, but her down-to-earth spirit and bubbly, comedic banter throughout the set just instantly diffused those nerves and suddenly I felt like she was a good friend who I had known for years. I was shocked to find that someone who sings such devastating, heart-breaking songs could be so happy-go-lucky and utterly HILARIOUS…(so hilarious that I actually asked her if she was “a comedian before this,” to which she replied, ” I liked doing gags, like saran wrap on the toilet seat.”)…She also mentioned eating waaaaay too much chocolate cake that day, and when I mentioned that to her 6 months later at their December gig in London (The Forum), SHE REMEMBERED ME…literally pointed to me in a crowd of 1500 people and was like “HEY YOU!”…(I was DYING). It just goes to show you that no matter how big or famous some artists get, they will still remain the GENUINELY AWESOME PERSON that got them there in the first place. “I don’t want to be big,” Sharon said in a recent interview with Gigwise. “I don’t want to be bigger. I think that with the way I write and perform, I like where I am. I’m kind of scared to get any bigger because I just don’t think that’s the reason I do this. I soon as I don’t know who I’m connecting with or why then I want to stop and do something different. I’m not even like a festival kind of band – who wants to stop partying to come and listen to me? It doesn’t make sense to me, but I feel lucky to be here. I don’t have any ‘moves’.” She wants to still feel the impact (on a personal level) with her fans, and I very much admire her for that. Sharon is developing a fan base for all the right reasons, and we can only continue to LOVE MORE (pun intended) the many sides of this dynamic, lovable lady.  ❤ And this lovable lady is proving that her music can only get better with time, and her evolution as an artist is something we can only look forward to. Having added 2 new members to her touring WOLF PACK, some might be concerned that they additional instruments would drown out her sound on the new album, ‘Are We There,’  but they don’t. When asked about maintaining the intimacy and purity of her music while involving more people, Sharon replies: “The songs still originate from my bedroom, for the most part, and start from a really intimate place. I feel as long as the melody is supported and not covered you can hear that intimacy.” When discussing the inspiration for ‘Are We There,’ she says, “The whole album was written over the past two years while on the road, touring Tramp. And the songs are all about the struggle of trying to have a home life, relationship – and also trying to work and the frustration that comes with trying to balance it all when it is virtually impossible…In the end, I had to choose my work over having a relationship because the person I was with couldn’t handle it. It was someone that I loved very deeply, but it just plays on people’s insecurities when you’re in a place that they’re not. And that’s kinda what that song is about, what the whole record’s about.” I’m not a famous musician or anything (obviously), but I can definitely emphasize with that nomadic type lifestyle, and I can see how difficult it would be to maintain a healthy relationship (esp. with someone outside the business who might not understand). But what I (and most others) love about Sharon is how fearless she is in facing her subconscious and unleashing many of the deep-seated  affliction that most people would rather suppress. “I have a hard time not wearing my heart on my sleeve and answering people honestly. You know, my friends warn me that I should be more guarded ‘cause sometimes I am too honest and open, but it’s also just who I am. I don’t like to hold back. Especially with who I am and what I do, it’s all me, everything’s my name, it’s what I do, it’s how I feel, it’s what I think. Over the last two years, I’m beginning to think that what I do is kind of self-centered, you know? And I’ve been contemplating doing something else after a couple of years, ‘cause it’s all me. It’s almost like, why do people care about me?…I love who I work with, and I’m lucky, and I know that people would kill to be in the position that I’m in, but it’s fucking with my head a little bit. It’s all about me and my life and my hardships or whatever you want to call it, and I don’t know who I’m helping, I don’t know what I’m doing…I feel pretty selfish to be doing what I’m doing and not knowing who it’s affecting or who it’s helping.” But I wish I could tell her (shout it out) that she is HELPING ME!!  Without Sharon’s recent album  release and gig at KOKO, I am not sure I could have made it through last week without having complete meltdown. The one song that became my instant ailment (still is) was ‘Afraid of Nothing.’ It’s actually the title track to my recent playlist: https://beatsthatsetmypulse.wordpress.com/afraid-of-nothing/ The minute I hear those intro piano chords to this song, my fear/troubles/frustrations instantly dissipate off my chest, and suddenly I feel a thousand times lighter. This was the first song of Sharon’s set at KOKO, and I couldn’t help but choke up (at the first song, lame I know). I would have loved getting this on video, but the photographers were obstructing my view. These lyrics = therapy: “I can’t wait…Til we’re afraid…Of nothing. I can’t wait…Til we hide….From nothing…Nothing.” Next up in the set was ‘Taking Chances,’ one of my other favorites from the new album. The beat is so hypnotic and catchy, and the lyrics just flow behind like a perfect cascade: “When you love all of you, they know all of you..Be alone and take, and you break for your sake…Even I’ve taken my chances….Even I’ve taken my chances on you.” Then it was ‘Tarifa‘, a song that didn’t’ capture my initial interest the first time through, but now that I listen more and more I’ really drawn to it: “Tell me when…Tell me when is this over?…Chewed you out…Chew me out when I’m stupid.” After the first 3 songs (photographers booted, thank you), Sharon apologizes to the the audience, saying that she is a bit sick and will have to carry her tissues on stage..(she later jokes about about making a business with personalized tissues). Then she cracks a few jokes with her keyboardist/back up singer, Heather, who claimed at the red tambourine wasn’t “her color.” She soon interrupts the set with an oldie (but goodie), ‘Don’t Do It,’ and the crowd goes wild for the tune that we all know and love: “Look me in the eyes, say you can’t do it, but you will if you want to…I wish I could make you right.”  (fierce ending…wish I could give her a hug!) Next was another oldie, a song (‘Give Out‘) she introduces as the reason why she “moved to the city“: “What’s with the eyes…In the back of the room?…The only ones shining…The only ones I’d met in years…“I’m biting my lip…As confidence is speaking to me.”  (this continues to be one of my favorites of her older stuff) Just before she hits us with a new one, she giggles as she and Doug discuss how much they are enjoying the show during their “meeting minutes.” (haha)  Then someone in the crowd yells, “We love you Sharon!,” to which she replies (looking out with her hand over her forehead, ” DAD? Is that you?” Everyone laughs as she then explains how it’s not uncommon for her parents to randomly show up and surprise her at gigs in different cities, as they have in the past for both Dublin and Paris. (But then she says they would not be here because they are at home getting ready for her sister’s wedding). Next up was another new one, ‘Nothing will change,’ and I for sure felt the gravity in these lyrics; “It had been a while and I thought that you’d forgot about me I never could have forgotten you. (def have been there…) The next song (‘Break Me‘) seems to be a continueation of ‘Give out’, and I can’t help but draw a parallel between the two. She says, “This is a song about therapy, cause I need it.” (LOVE THE OMNICHORD IN THIS ONE) “He can make me..Move into a city on my knees…He can take in everything…Hoping he let’s me in..I, I let you in.” She then played one more old one (‘Serpents‘) before finishing off her collection of new gems, including ‘You Know Me Well‘: “Everyone is crazy with their own life…Lies in existential you ever want to find your way out…Turn into yourself again and reach on out….To become your true self…You know me well….You show me hell when I’m looking…And here you are…Looking.” I’m just not that broken any more,” Sharon says in a recent interview. “I feel like I’ve been hurt and I’m still hurt, but for different reasons. I know who I am more, I know what I want, I don’t take as much shit, I know what I don’t want, I know what I will not tolerate, I know when I’m making someone else happy and vice versa…I still get hurt and get sad, I’m still a romantic at heart, but I think that one thing about growing up is that you know what you want more.”  (YES.) Following this is the song, “Your Love is Killing Me,” which has drawn the attention of many and is “the heaviest thing she’s ever written.” In response to everyone’s concern and consideration, Sharon responds: “I am doing fine. It’s just this is what I do.” I call it “The Beast” because it is relentless.” She freaking lets all hell lose on this one. Emotional implosion. Her voice is on the verge of SHATTERING at the very end as if her heart were all the sudden in her throat. 

We’ve been through better days And you’ve tasted all my pain

Break my legs so I won’t walk to you Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you Burn my skin so I can’t feel you Stab my eyes so I can’t see You like it when I let you walk over me You tell me that you like it Your love is killing me

There he let it go, his temper, standing there See her with his gun and he, steals love so he can feel alive   (This line SLAYS ME) Everyone’s knees knockin’ at the fear of love Taste blood Everybody needs to feel.”

Following “The Beast” is a song (‘Every time The Sun Comes up‘) that Sharon introduces as “literal in every way,” and one that her band tricked her with: “People say I’m a one-hit wonder But what happens when I have two? I washed your dishes, but I shitted in your bathroom..’ (hahah) She follows with another hit from the new album, ‘I Love You But I’m Lost“: “Come in here and be yourself again I love you but I’m not somebody who take shots See me after I recoil I’m better than I know There’s room to grow .. Let’s turn it into something we can change I love you but I’m lost Between the pain and cost I hold myself alive.” After thanking TONS of people, including her old drummer (now manager), Zeke, Sharon says that she can either play a song or tell a story (for the encore). Riding on gut and intuition, Sharon dismisses (as nice as possible) the many song suggestions from the audience and instead says, “But I sorta had a plan, guys…‘  before she dazzles us with her last track on the album, “I Know.” “And then you push me out I know, I know And then you disappear because you can’t fight fear I know, I know ..I all ever wanted as YOU.”   (she warned us that it was going to be a sad one) Every time I write, it is for therapeutic purposes. I write when I am going through a really hard time. I hit record and sing stream of conscious. I usually let it out for about ten or twenty minutes and then wait a day or two then listen back a day or two later so I have some perspective on what I was going through. Nine times out of ten I don’t share those “songs” with anyone because they are too personal. The ones I choose to share are the ideas that are more relatable and universal so I don’t alienate the listener – and hopefully they can connect with it on their own personal level.”  YES, yes they do! We love you, “SHIZZLE.” (what she called herself on the set) xxx And to leave YOU on a personal level, here are a few interesting comments I read about Sharon in a recent interview: CP- What do you hope for? SVE—I hope to one day find balance in my life.   (my biggest struggle too!) CP—What motivates you to make music? SVE—Healing myself, helping others heal, and helping others feel not so alone. CP—What makes you smile? SVE—A dad with their kid, a stranger helping someone, someone else smiling (it’s contagious!) CP—When are you most at peace? SVE—At the beach. CP—What are you most scared of? SVE—Never settling down.     (ME TOO)

MORE PICTURES:

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