Rett Madison: “Shame is a river, and I’ve crossed its waters, always sink… Hope’s on the other side, and I’ve got guilt I’ve got bricks to my feet… Love is a sunrise, where’s the light to eclipse my grief?” – Live at The HiHat in LA (March 8, 2019)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Photo credit: Nikki Neumann (website: Neumann.com  /  Instagram: @nkknmmn)

“Everybody says I’m just like you, is that one of the many things you suffered through… both know sadness too well I lost you too, waking up without you is waking up in hell, I never meet you 48, you won’t cry on my wedding day, you’ll never hear my children say your name, Jaqueline… I’m just pissed off and bitter, I couldn’t save my mother, I’m grappling with what I got left” 

FUCK. Tears just won’t stop flowing. Such a heavy heart listening to Rett Madison sing about the recent loss of her mother Jaqueline at The Hihat last night. It was very hard to hold back the tears, and it breaks me to think about the pain that this incredibly talented, hilarious, down-to-earth, and downright adorable person must be going through. Just last month at The Bootleg, Rett mentioned that her stage banter was a bit off because she “has just lost her mom” and “feels a bit weird.” ‘Jaqueline,’ ‘Death Don’t Make a Bitch An Angel’, ‘Flea Market,’ (see videos below) and ‘Don’t Know Better Till You Do’ (“I admit that pride gets my tongue, but you and I are of the same blood and you played the game better than I could.. when I should have done better by you”), were all songs that hit us a like a brick wall and triggered instant tearshed. Heavy and intense, you could feel the cathartic relief accompanying each lyric as Rett belted them vehemently from her chest. Rett also played ‘Shame is a River,’ (LOVE) ‘Pin Up Daddy,’ ‘Fleas,’ and ‘God is a Woman,’ all tracks (videos below) I had heard before and instantly connected with, wishing they were already available on Spotify. Her album is going to be an absolute masterpiece.

Rest Madison certainly stands out as my top 3 discoveries in 2019, and I will see her every chance I can get. To stay that I was stunned the first time I saw Rett play (which happened to be alongside Emma Cole and Wolf Bay at Madam Siam back in Oct and then later opening for Lauren Ruth Ward at The El Rey) would be an understatement. The minute Rett opened her mouth was the minute MY mouth would remain open, jaw dropped on the floor. Her West Virginia roots have fertilized a southern-raspy vibe that stands out in the LA music scene, carving a niche that not many can touch. She almost always starts her show with a gospel-like vocal intro called ‘One Year‘ (video below) that hooks you hard, stopping you in your tracks like a dear in headlights. Every song in her set is a masterpiece, and it blows me away that she is only in her early 20s. Since the Madame Siam show, I have been obsessively listening to her EP (God Is a Women, Mother’s Girl, Twinty-Five) over and over. I can understand some of the frustrations she mentions in ‘Twenty-Five’ (“My pals are all making plans and playing house… but I ain’t got a damn thing figured out”), but cannot understand her sense of urgency with her self-imposed time line: “Why did I romanticize where I’d be at 25… and I know that I know that I’ve still young but how come I’ve run out of time.” She is still SO YOUNG and is FAR FROM “running out of time.” She has already surpassed many her age, having written incredibly brilliant songs that raise ever hair on my body when I hear them sung out loud. Considering it was INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, it was also PERFECTLY FITTING for Rett to play ‘God Is a Woman’ (“I wish I had known back then that no love is a sin… cause GOD’S A WOMAN, She F*CKS A WOMAN, just as divine… that GOD’S A DIKE, and she made rainbows to give us a sign”) for her encore. I will forever put Rett up on a pedestal & broadcast her gift to the world until her fans are “drawing rainbows 🌈 in the sky to give her a sign.” ❤

Videos:

“If I was given one month to live, I’d carry our dreams in a bucket till we crossed our last wish off our list. If I was given one day, if I was given one day to live, I’d memorize your kiss with my clumsy mouth while you hold my shaky legs still. If I was given one hour, If I was given one hour to live, I would praise your body with every own god sin there is. If I was given one breath, if I was given one hour, if I was given one day, if I was given one month. If I was given one year, if I was given one year to year. I would plant that tree in the garden to keep track of our last seasons. If I was give one year.”

“Let me tell ya it takes more than a stitch to make me obedient… I never learned how to stay cause I was born a stray, yes I was born a stray”

“Shame is a river, and I’ve crossed its waters, always sink… Hope’s on the other side, and I’ve got guilt I’ve got bricks to my feet… I was 15 when I had my first drink, I’m on the sofa across from a shrink, keeping my mouth shut and grinding my teeth.. Got away as far as I could but that didn’t do me any good… love is a sunrise, where’s the light to eclipse my grief… Grace speaks of silence, I’ve been quiet but I only hear my own scream.”

“I’m so pathetic, I begged God to trade my life, with my mom’s, but you didn’t have that, you never asked me, you only wanted me to be happy… So I’m trying my best to be happy”

“Sometimes I think you live you through me, and you’re pissed you’re not directing the movie… If I die would you find a way to make my pain about you… When I go I already know that death don’t make a bitch an angel”

“Mamma never said I was second best, she loved a TomBoy in a Sequin dress…”

“I wish I had known back then that no love is a sin.. cause GOD’S A WOMAN, She FUCKS A WOMAN, just as divine… that GOD’S A DIKE, and she made rainbows to give us a sign”

 

 

Previous reviews (The Bootleg, The Love Song Bar, The El Rey, Madam Siam):

 

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Iceland Airwaves (Nov 3-5, 2017) – Review

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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I’ve worn plenty of wristbands in my day, but this one I wear with MOST PRIDE. Having been accepted to my second Iceland Airwaves Music Festival as a media pass holder is an opportunity that I do NOT take lightly, and I tried my best to capture the highlights of this magical, musical mystery tour.  Not only does this “land of Ice” know know to shatter glass ceilings and defy the odds of artistic potential and possibility, but it does so in a way that is warm (“land of fire”) and welcoming, and so in the least bit pretentious. The sky is definitely the limit for this innovative, ingenious, impressive Island. The music, people, and scenery is uncharacteristic of anywhere else.  ❤ 

Here are some of the bands that left a lasting impression in my mind and made me question the boundaries of human creativity (click on names or links below to see the full reviews): Hatari, Hogni, Hormonar, Kiriyama Family, We Made God, Omotrack, Rythmatik, Captain Syrup, Arstidir, Between Mountains, Axel Flovent, Mani Orrason, One Week Wonder, GDJYB (non-Icelandic), and Mammut (a personal favorite).  Since my review for Mammut was taking a very long to write (I often find it most difficult to write about bands that move me the most), I decided to write a combined review on their 2017 & 2018 Airwaves shows. Other Icelandic bands I have written about in the past are Asgeir, VAR, Vok, Kaleo, For a Minor Reflection, Sin Fang, Agent Fresco, Lay Low, Rokvva, Samaris, etc. See my reviews on Asgeir and Low Roar. See videos below from Airwaves 2017 when Mammut performed ‘Kinder Versions,’ ‘Pray for Air in the Water,’ ‘The Moon Will Never Turn on Me,’ ‘Walls,’ and ‘What’s Your Secret(these absolutely SLAY):

 

Hogni: “Wonderful dreams that were uncomfortable scenes out of nowhere… Wonderful scenes that were uncomfortable schemes out of nowhere” – Live at Secret Solstice and Iceland Airwaves (June/Nov 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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“I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love can’t you tell?”… I’M IN LOVE with this song ‘Moon pitcher‘ that Hogni wrote for his fiance in his debut album, Two Trains, released Oct 2017 by Erased Tapes record label.  Hogni quotes: “I feel I tried my best to create an honest and passionate piece of musical work and I hope you will find the time and space to enjoy it as well as finding that connection. As a musician you aspire to create that other world, that sense of hypnosis.”  I def entered that other world, “CAN’T YOU TELL.” 🙂 ❤

Hogni was one of my top new discoveries at Secret Solstice 2017, and I could not wait to see him again at Iceland Airwaves 6 months later. His deep vocals and ethereal, experimental electronic arrangements simply SLAY, and I was so happy to hear the new gems from Two Trains, an album that he describes in the following words:

“The music on Two Trains is a blue-print of a period in my life where I collided with my own self, and at that point I felt the indifference between the personal and the universal, the absolute consciousness of life’s unconsciousness. Perhaps it’s a feeling that cannot be conveyed, like watercolours that just seem to wash off into the sea. But also a flashing mirage that you can enjoy before you arrive at your last destination.”

Hogni also alludes to this album as a personal expression of the tugging dichotomies he faces while living with bipolar disorder: “I’m bipolar. I got very sick and it has affected my life drastically. This album bears witness to it… (In) the last few years, the swings have decreased in size. When I was the most ill a few years ago, I felt terrible, even if you couldn’t see it. There was just so much going on, lots of fun, and even excitement about going to the psych ward for the first time. Like I was going down a new path for myself. But I haven’t seen it as exciting since then.”

Maybe this phenomena is what he was describing in his song (video below) where he sings:  “Wonderful dreams that were uncomfortable scenes out of nowhere… Wonderful scenes that were uncomfortable schemes out of nowhere.”

Previously known as frontman of the well-known indie rock band Hjaltalin and former member of ambient-techno group GusGus), Hogni proves that “Two Trains”, “change and metamorphosis” are his preferred method of transportation in this journey we call life. His “I can do whatever I dream” (lyrics in one of the videos below) is infectious and his tenacity for movement and exploration are an inspiration to us all: “My life is untethered, in many ways,” Högni says. “I try to focus on making good music and seeking inspiration, chasing experiences, travelling and finding adventures.

Aside from fronting two touring bands, Hogni has made time to score numerous theatre pieces, most notably The Heart of Robin Hood (dir. Gísli Gardarsson), staged by The Royal Shakespeare Company in 2011 and Angels of the Universe (dir. Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson), the Icelandic National Theatre’s 2013 adaptation of a well-known and loved novel and film of the same title.mHe has also written music for film and television, including a well-received score for short film Víkingar (dir. Magali Magistry, 2013) which won the Golden Rail award and was nominated for the Discovery award, both at the Cannes Film Festival. There really is no telling where his “Two Trains” will take us next. I don’t know about you , but I am surely ALL ABOARD. ❤

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We Made God: Hail to this Higher Power – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

 

I remember nearly suffering a mild stroke the first time I saw Iceland’s own We Made God at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival back in 2014. At one point the lead guitarist Arnór Jónasson jumped off stage and started swinging his guitar back and forth in front of my friend Jensyn Lynn Hallett and I as he furiously strummed the strings, smirking a bit as we began squealing with joy. It was as if We Made God (Arnór – Guitar, Biggi – Drums, Maggi – Vox/ Guitar, Stúni – Bass) were all about making violent, cathartic, adrenaline-ridden performances and that spin you into another orbit. I’m just glad this epic encore didn’t spin me face-first into the table of guys below me! We Made God’s brain-bending live performances of math/progressive rock have been recognized by both domestic and foreign media, and their devout fans orbiting around the world can’t wait for the release of their third album next year. As of late 2018, Arnór decided to leave We Made God to focus more time on his role as lead guitarist in VAR (love their sound, see videos below) as well as supporting Maggi’s solo project, Mighty Bear.  With his talent, creativity, and breadth of experience, I’m pretty stoked to see what new direction Arnór is pointing his compass. 🙂  Be sure to check out We Made God, VAR, and Mighty Bear at this year’s Airwaves 2018!

Arstíðir: “I’ve been waiting for someone to say, That my patience was worth all the way” – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 3, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

ArstíðirDaníel Auðunsson (Guitar, vocals), Gunnar Már Jakobsson (Guitar, baritone guitar, vocals), Karl James Pestka (violin, viola, electronics, vocals), and Ragnar Ólafsson (piano, baritone guitar, vocals) are well-established in the Icelandic music community, having had two #1 hits in 2008 that put them on the map. After the release of their debut album in 2009, Árstíðir released a second album that was produced/mastered by the super talented Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. The band has already toured 30 countries and it set to tour again once they release their third album (on the way!). With influence of Beck, Paul McCartney, Philip Glass, Neil Young, Takashi Tateishi, Árstíðir finds a home in everyone. I love the violin in the last video that I captured (see below). Feels like it should be in a chase scene in a movie! Make sure to check out their new album ‘Nivalas‘ release just this year!

 

Lauren Ruth Ward: “‘Love is not loving’ mama, that’s what Bowie said… Think I’m aggressive? I’m just obsessive. Maybe I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” – Live at The Chapel in SF (May 25, 2018)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

If you haven’t yet seen the volatile, voracious VOCAL VIXEN that is Lauren Ruth Ward​, you best MAKE IT HAPPEN. Many of my favorite LA bands had described her as “truly something else” and a “MUST SEE,” and only NOW (after seeing her last night for the first time at The Chapel​) do I understand why she deserves to be up on that pedestal. With the (1) bluesy rasp and feverish headbanging of Janis Joplin, (2) sultry, seductive sounds of Sia, (3) heavy howls and fairy-like movement of Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine), and (4) lyrical cadence of Courtney Barnett, Lauren is the EPITOME of a TRUE ENTERTAINER. Her killer combination of good looks, memorizing vocals, and “come-hither” demeanor will stop you DEAD IN YOUR TRACKS, and you’ll find yourself swooning more than once throughout the set. She uses her impressive vocal control to deliver salacious, racy lines in songs like ‘Make Love to Myself‘ and ‘Blue Collar Sex Kitten‘ with crackling/panting/heaving undertones (as if on the brink of climax) and a gritty vibrato that provokes the sexual appetite in us all, especially the cougars who shouted out to Lauren with pride: “Mom’s are out TONIGHT!” I’m so glad this provocative powerhouse decided to crawl onto the speaker RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and allow to to capture some bewitching footage (def not camera shy) of her holding us under her spell. She even offered to shake my hand (along with others in the front row) which I found really endearing, and waved attentively at everyone in the crowd who was starring up at her in awe.

One of my favorite moments was when Lauren kicked off ‘Blue Collar Sex Kitten‘ howling “Thought you found Jesus in me while I lied there Fa-Fa-Fa-FAKING” and then later shouts (while looking in the direction of the drummer) “You should let me cut your hair to make you look a little BETTER!” (which is very fitting considering that she is a professional hair stylist). She also opens up about her sexuality: “I’m a dyke, dated guys, ain’t a crime, won’t apologize for my tribe.” Another favorite moment was her delivery of these two lines in ‘Well, Hell,’ the title track of her debut album: “Love is not loving” mama, that’s what Bowie said” and “Think I’m aggressive? I’m just obsessive. Maybe I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” LOVE LOVE LOVE. Her lyric cadence in this one reminds me of Courtney Barnett, which is ALWAYS A GOOD THING. ‘Staff Only,’ ‘Sheet Stains,’ and ‘Sideways‘ are my other favorites, along her her BRAND NEW siiiiiiiick song, ‘Valhalla‘ that has a super catchy chorus and a killer ending: “How did she do it, how did she do it, how did she do it? They all will ASK.” Yaaas. Can’t wait for this bad boy to be released! She also sang a song called ‘Scorpio Season‘ (not on her EP) which made me grin ear-to-ear as I thought to myself “OF  Of COURSE Lauren is a SCORPIO… The most passionate and sexual of all the signs.” I can definitely can SPOT MY OWN. 😛

A true knack for audience allure, Lauren Ruth Ward is building an intense fan base with her 60’s Rock n’ Role revival and this attention is only going to spread like wildfire over the next year. She makes it known in her title track (‘Well, Hell‘) that she is grateful for being heard (“I didn’t mean to make your head spin, I have a lot to say. I have a lot to say. I have a lot to say. Thank you for listening to what we have to say“), but WE are grateful for her voice, and her message. She is a MUST SEE, and I urge you to see her whenever she comes through your town. Just look for the gorgeous “Flower Child” in rainbow vintage pants and a rad, rainbow fringe.  ❤

Not only was I stoked to have met Lauren after the show (pic above) and to have learned that she was also a fellow East Coaster who moved out here about 3 years ago, but I was EVEN MORE STOKED to later learn that Lauren’s sister (Sarah) went to University of Maryland with my good friend Tony Awojoodu and is married to one of his close friends, Sasha. CRAZY SMALL WORLD!

Videos from the show:

“You’ve got a sign on your heart that says “Staff Only”. A Band-Aid life, you’re just staying high and lonely. Go on and treat me bad. Go on and treat yourself bad.” HELL YAAAAAAS. Such a fucking siiiick track. I love when she laugh “HA HA HA!” right after belting “The devil on your shoulders got a chip on his shoulder – ain’t that funny?”

“Got me a job and planned real good. But all the planning didn’t go as it should. I was distracted by the people walking faster than me. I’m going sideways. I’m going sideways.”

“Buddy, I don’t need you I can make love to myself. If you think I’m lonesome then you’re lying to yourself… I am not your honey. I don’t need nobody for nothing. I’ve got myself for loving. I’ve got myself for loving. I am not your honey and I don’t need nobody for nothing, no. I’ve got myself for loving and I don’t need nobody.”

Lauren’s siiiiiiiiick new song, ‘Valhalla.’ I love the enigmatic ending: “How did she do it, how did she do it, how did she do it? They all will ASK.” Yaaas. Can’t wait for this bad boy to be released!

“You were appointed the master of control. It won’t give you self control, you’re only getting older.”

“Thought you found Jesus in me while I lied there faking… Contemplation, admiration, salivation, masturbation : four – step Friday night. I’m a dyke, dated guys, ain’t a crime, won’t apologize for my tribe.” WOW.

Of COURSE Lauren is a SCORPIO! The most passionate and sexual of all the signs… Glad to also be one. xx

“Love is not loving” mama, that’s what Bowie said… Think I’m aggressive? I’m just obsessive. Maybe I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” OMG I LOVE THIS. Her lyric cadence in this one reminds me of Courtney Barnett, which is ALWAYS A GOOD THING.

 

 

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The Oh Hellos: “Nothing lasts forever, Some things aren’t meant to be, But you’ll never find the answer, Until you set your old heart free” – The Fillmore in SF (March 29, 2018)

Compiled by Erica Andreozzi

The Oh Hello’s surely HAD US AT HELLO last night at their headline show in San Francisco back in March. This high-octane, Texas-bred folk-rock octet delivered an explosive, high-energy performance that SHOOK The Fillmore like a level five earthquake. Their energy was BEYOND INFECTIOUS, and watching ALL 8 members go APE SHIT on their instruments just had you instantly flailing your arms and stomping your feet to join the madness. I remember from first seeing The Oh Hellos back in 2015 at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and being BLOWN AWAY by extra-expressive fiddle, banjo, and bass players who were jumping around stage like pogo sticks while still managing to shred their strings in mid-air. This band first stole my heart back in 2010 when I came across ‘Hello My Old Heart,’ a song that would pretty much revived my pulse an had me staying calm during very, VERY trying times: “Nothing lasts forever Some things aren’t meant to be But you’ll never find the answer Until you set your old heart free.” Other songs like The Truth is a Cave, Eat You Alive, I Was Wrong, I Have Made Mistakes, Trees, Constellations, Grow, and On the Mountain Tall, Eurus, and Hieroglyphs, have also hammered on my heartstrings and instilled timeless messages that I continue to revisit (especially this one): “The sun, it does not cause us, The sun, it does not cause us to grow… It is the rain that will strengthen, The rain that will strengthen your soul. It will make you whole.” I was so happy they played this song (‘I Have Made Mistakes’) last night, cause Tyler and Maggie Heaths’ brother-sister harmonies absolutely SLAY, and you will be lathered in chills by the end. I would have LOVED if they played ‘Hello My Old Heart,’ but their set was chock full of string-saturated songs (YES) from their new EP, Eurus (a nice EP follow up to ‘Notos‘ released just last year), and this band would not have had time unless they played for 3 hours straight (an actually request by someone in the audience to which Tyler facetiously said would “lead to their demise”). Playing for 3 hours at their pace and their intensity would definitely require serious endurance, but I have no doubt they will get there someday. Even the bango player/percussionist had enough energy at the end to leap onto a high-rise speaker and bang on his drum from 6 feet in the air. EPIC ENCORE. You had me at hello, and you had me at goodbye. COME BACK SOON!  ❤

Climbing Trees‘ is one of my FAVORITES from this incredible folk rock ensemble. Coincidentally enough, yesterday (the first time I saw this song played live) was the birthday of my good friend Hillary who ALSO loves this song and loved CLIMBING TREES and other things (mountain, walls, etc.) Wish she could have been here with me!

LOVE THIS ONE. This timeless track (‘I Have Made Mistakes‘) will forever hammer on my heartstrings with lyrics that bring light even in the darkest of times.
“I have made mistakes, I continue to make them. The promises I’ve made, I continue to break them. And all the doubts I’ve faced, I continue to face them. But nothing is a waste if you learn from it… And the sun, it does not cause us to grow It is the rain that will strengthen your soul (OMG YAAAS)… And it will make you whole.” TRUTH BE TOLD.

I love the honestly and life wake-up-call element to this one. SO FREAKING GOOD:
“I’ve seen the true face of the things you call life
The voice of the siren that holds your desires
But death, she is cunning, and clever as hell
And she’ll eat you alive

Oh, she’ll EAT YOU ALIVE.”    YAAAAAAS>

The lyrics to this ‘This Will End’ just absolutely SLAY. Wow. So heart-wrenchingly beautiful:

“Heartache, I’ve heard, is part of life   ❤
And I have broken more and more

But I can hope how this will end
With every line a comedy
That we could learn to love without demand   (if only it were so easy)
But unreserved honesty

***

Previous videos from their 2015 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass performance: