Performing under the name Weyes Blood, New York-based songstress Natalie Mering has crafted a small but alluring body of songs rooted in British folk melodies and layers of musique concrète. Singing and performing with such modern experimental music luminaries as Ariel Pink and Jackie-O-Motherfucker may have informed her musical path, but as a solo artist, Mering creates haunting singular atmospheres filled with disquieting beauty. Throughout her 2013 album, The Outside Room, and her forthcoming Mexican Summer LP, The Innocents (due out Oct. 21), Mering’s voice and bold guitar melodies soar over gossamer narratives that evoke feelings of chaos, mystery, love, destruction, and various other complicated states of being.
After playing a show at the Mammal Gallery on Sept. 12, Weyes Blood returns to perform at 529 on Mon., Sept. 15, with Sun Araw, the Ruination, D/P/I, and Party Party Partners. Before the show, Mering took a few minutes to chat about writing songs, noise, and The Innocents.
I’ve been listening to the The Innocents, but I also came across your first album, The Outside Room. The more I listen the more I’m struck by how you use noise underneath the proper song parts that you write. Your voice is bold, and your songwriting is sharp — they could stand on their own strengths — without the added hidden dimensions that noise gives to your songs. What compels you to use noise in your songs the way you do?
I like using sound effects as instruments, and using the spectrum of atonal sound to accent what’s already going on. I think that happens a lot in percussion so it’s kind of like drying out percussion and adding tones to it. That’s basically what sound effects are so it does have it’s roots in traditional music, it’s just more of a Futurist interpretation. A lot of the sounds effects are there for a reason.
"Higher" — SBTRKT feat. Raury
Most folks are familiar with Raury's acoustic ways, but linking up the elusive SBTRKT finds the East Atlanta wunderkind putting his raps on display. SBTRKTs's haunting production's paired with lyrics that tread topics from segregation to Raury's fallout with his father. "Higher" is the latest offering from SBTRKT's forthcoming album, Wonder Where We Land (Sept. 22).
Friday, September 12.
Tickets for each night are $22 in advance and $25 at the door. But if you enter the password SMRXNS100 when purchasing tickets online they're only $15 apiece.
Nick Diamonds is dead. The buoyant, childproofed melodies penned by Diamonds, the alias of songwriter Nick Thorburn, on his Islands debut, Return to the Sea, have faded into memory. Islands' last album, 2013's Ski Mask, is a stark portrait of a soul fed up with playing the part of the ant idly scorching underneath the magnifying glass. The ski mask itself is a metaphor for someone donning a new persona of confidence and control. Over the last year, Thorburn has wielded that confidence wisely. His first beloved group the Unicorns played its first show in over a decade opening for Arcade Fire in August. Dealing with the chaos surrounding hyped reunions would be enough for most, but Thorburn has kept himself even busier by embarking on an Islands tour and even writing new material on the road. The prolific songwriter stopped by to chat about his favorite movies, revisiting old records, and sneaking darkness into his sweetest melodies.
How difficult has it been getting into the headspace of the Unicorns songs?
Musically speaking it was fine. Really. It almost felt like we hadn't really missed a step.
It seemed unusual when you announced the reunion because Islands has always been a band that never revisits old sounds.
We all love a little contradiction, right? Ski Mask is more reflective then the other albums. It precipitated the reunion almost. It's a rare moment where I'm looking back instead of moving forward. Ski Mask is reflecting different records and taking those ideas and trying to move forward. On the forthcoming record we find a mix. It's been a ponderous time I suppose.
Between Islands, side projects, and the reunion, you've kept busy. Do you find solace in that chaos?
I have to be busy and productive. I don't want to feel like a vessel, and touring can make you feel like a conduit rather then an actual creator. I want to have enough time to be productive and constructive and not just an automaton. Not that performing is bad but it's less creative then recording. This is just the work, you know?
>> "Teenagers are such a discerning group of people. They’ll immediately sniff out anything that feels contrived. I’m, like, constantly scanning myself to see if I’m some corporate executive version of a teenager. I’ve developed something of a fearsome reputation." ~ Lorde
>> Tameka "Tiny" Harris talks T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, "What You Gon Do," and a possible new EP, you know.
>> Tyler The Creator is playing The Tabernacle on December 13th.
>> Lenny Kravitz premiered a new song off his upcoming album Strut called "New York City" on ELLE magazine's website.
>> There is a Kickstarter in the works to restore Tom Waits' 1979 live-action/animated classic video Tom Waits For No One.
>> Linguist David Crystal on singers who sing with different accents: "Singing isn’t that natural, speaking is natural; singing is when emotions get heightened and you want to express yourself in a very different way. The authenticity is in the choices that you make."
>> Tiny Mariah Ariana Grande hates the right side of her face... so much... flames, flames, on the side of my face, breathing-breathl- heaving breaths. Heaving breaths... Heathing...
While this year's National Black Arts Festival has already been underway for a few months, it's not too late check out one of the fastest rising stars in the jazz world. Over the next two weeks, the youngest in a seemingly endless bloodline of musically talented brothers, Jason Marsalis will be featured in two different groups in two different musical capacities. Unlike his brothers, who focused on horns - Wynton on trumpet, Branford on saxophone, and Delfayo on trombone - Jason decided to try his hand(s) at percussion.
This Thurs., Sept. 11, Jason's Vibes Quartet will grace the stage at the Variety Playhouse in support of his most recent recording, In a World of Mallets (Basin Street Records). The hornless quartet features a 1-2 punch of vibes and piano with a traditional stand-up bass/drums rhythm section, and fits in with the category of jazz as much as it does with exotica. Several of the group's eclectic, adventurous compositions conjure up the mysterious moods of vibes luminaries such as Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny.
The following Thurs., Sept. 18th, Jason joins the Marcus Roberts Trio, switching to drum duty for this show. Roberts, a piano virtuoso in his own right, plans to honor the music of Thelonious Monk, as well as that of John Coltrane.
At this rate, it won't be long before Jason Marsalis is receiving the same accolades heaped upon his brothers. He might have to wait a little longer before he's mentioned in the same breath as 'Trane or Monk, but that's certainly no dig.
The group’s lead singer and guitarist, Jason Travis, weighs in on the song’s personal nature, and showing off a human side of the band:
"For me, 'Setting Suns' is the most personal track on my band’s new EP, Number One Lover. The song was written about my one true love, during a time we spent apart. Sometimes, two people meeting can be a little too intense to absorb immediately. There has to be separation for a while. It can happen unpredictably and unexpectedly, but eventually you find your way back. That’s 'Setting Suns.'
I approached the video treatment in a lighthearted manner, capturing Sealions in the studio recording the track, and then also as we performed it live. My hope was to show the band in human form, performing a song in two very different environments, having fun along the way."
Check out the video for the EP's first single, "Honey," below.
>> "For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not. She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think, 'Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?' (Then last year) she did something so horrible. I was like, 'Oh, we're just straight-up enemies.' And it wasn't even about a guy! It had to do with business. She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I'm surprisingly non-confrontational — you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It's awkward, and I don't like it." ~ Taylor Swift... and then Katy Perry tweeted THIS YOU GUYS! Or is it Carrie Underwood, y'all?
>> Beloved Irish folkie Damien Rice has announced that his first album in 8 years (and produced by left coast studio shaman Rick Rubin, natch/namaste) will be called My Favourite Faded Fantasy and is due out on November 11th.
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