On Feb. 22, Portland, Ore.'s Josh Garrels played a sold-out show at Center Stage as part of his current five-city East Coast tour. The show began with a screening of a new documentary film about the making of his latest album, Love & War & The Sea In Between, his life, and the creative process. Afterward, Garrels was joined by 10 members of Brooklyn's Mason Jar Music collective for a career-spanning performance.
Over the course of three and a half hours, cousin acts two- and three-generations removed and megawatt stars showcased both the label's depth and its founder's inexplicable reach as a talent groomer, image maker, and sought-after producer over the last two decades. From the saccharine-flavored early '90s pop-rap of Kris Kross, who kicked off the show with a three-song set, to turn-of-the-millennium diva Mariah Carey, who provided the icing on the cake (but no vocals) at the show's close, Jermaine Dupri's legacy was made whole. And all the ambivalence surrounding his creative output and "so-so" industry standing was silenced for the moment, if not for all time.
Alt-J shines down on indie rock in 2013 with a refreshing ray of inventiveness and maturity. Despite forming in 2007, the group didn't release an album until the arrival of last year's debut, An Awesome Wave (Infectious), which shows what four years of preparation and an open mind can do. Seriously, it's 2013 and the group uses vocal harmonies that evoke Gregorian chant. These boys from Cambridge are truly in touch with their European roots, and the results are captivating.
Sadly, Alt-J's Atlanta show on Wednesday, March 6 is sold out. But before taking the stage at the Masquerade, the group will head over to play an acoustic set at Criminal Records at 6 p.m. Pick up a copy of An Awesome Wave on LP or CD at Criminal before the show to get a ticket.
The secret order of the Psych(edelic) Army has issued an ultimatum: If you do not give them your money by 11 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 26), they will not release new albums by the Difference Machine, deadCAT, the N.E.C., Soft Opening, Al Lover, and more to be announced. The video (above) says it all, and any questions about the label, the acts, and the rewards for donating to their cause can be found on the Kickstarter page.
The goal sits at an ambitious $8,000, and they've got quite a few dollars to raise between now and tomorrow night. But if the money is raised, it will fund the label's foundation, leading to more records, CDs, cassette tapes, artwork, a Psych Army beat tape series, and more recordings from various acts down the line.
"Total consciousness is at hand ..."
>> "It occurred to me that if your penis were detachable, it would probably get lost. So the song isn't actually about it being detachable, it's about it being lost. But "Lost Penis" is not really a good name for a song." ~ John S. Hall
>> Beef is Born: Kanye vs. Justin, who ya got?!
How long have you lived in Nashville?
Almost three years now, I guess. I didn't ever really plan on moving there; I just kind of wound up there, hanging out, and now I've got a radio show. I've lived in Florida, L.A., Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey ... Nashville is just another place to live, but I like the fact that there are so many musicians there. It's a tough town, though.
Your new album, AURA, draws from a palette of both soul and hip-hop sounds, but the album's rich atmosphere kind of transcends both.
Stacy Epps: For this album, me and Everett James had been working on songs for a few years and decided it was time to finally do a project. Everett came up with the name AURA - there was a distinctly positive and healing energy that we wanted to express in the music. This is something that I experimented with for my previous album, The Awakening, but Everett could actually translate that to sound, and use the healing frequencies within the music. So it was a coming together for everything: an embodiment of the energy that surrounds us, and we hope that through the music, your aura can be lifted, cleansed, and shine brighter.
Impressionism on such a deliberately fundamental level of the music's production doesn't often come across with such evocative results.
Everett James: A lot of records have it, but it's a negative thing. I got my start more on a punk end - punk and gangster hip-hop. It wasn't till I met Stacy that I understood ... When I was younger my mom and people like that would say to me, "You have to be careful about what you say on these records, because it becomes a reality." That's true! A lot of music speaks of very negative subject matter: a lot of stuff about money, death, drugs, and haters. When you hear these things, you absorb them, and you don't even know it. It's a subconscious thing - you go into the club feeling happy, but they play all this music, and you leave feeling angry and like you're ready to fight. You can change peoples' energy with music; I've seen it happen, and have experimented with it on stage and with recorded music. You can literally take someone's frame of mind and flip it with music.
Pitchfork is a fool for this one. About a week ago, the site continued its animated Frames series with another episode featuring an Atlanta artist. This time, Waka Flocka Flame tells a childhood story about the time his grandmother put him on punishment for overindulging in the doggystyle. Snoopy makes a guest appearance.
Surely, Charles Schulz is rolling over in his grave.
There's a song on Tame Impala's first record, InnerSpeaker, called "Solitude is Bliss," in which frontman Kevin Parker sings, "I don't care what I miss/company's okay-solitude is bliss." Parker furthered that sentiment with the group's 2012 follow up, Lonerism. Each song stretches out and arches like a house cat with full reign of an empty house. The lyrics, however, though ranging in scope, mostly close in on themselves through such lines as, "He's got friends but you get the feeling that they wouldn't care too much if he'd just disappear." This result is a trick: poppy, laid-back psychedelic sounds accompanied by lyrics that are like gravel in your mouth. In "Solitude is Bliss," Parker goes on to write, "There's a party in my head and no one is invited." But by the looks of it, unleashing the party via Lonerism has lead to sold-out shows across the world, including one in Athens this weekend. CL talked to Parker about solving the problem of figuring out rather he's a social or antisocial person, the new sound of rock 'n' roll, and why he claims to not sound like the Beatles - yet owns all of the same gear.
So I heard that you guys had the equal number of NME nominations that the Rolling Stones have.
Kevin Parker: [Laughs] Is that right?
It is right.
I didn't actually know that.
You really didn't?
Not at all.
>> Elvis Costello and the Roots hit it off so nicely during Costello's recent "Fallon appearances that they recorded a "brilliant" album together, and you will buy that album on Record Store Day. Speaking of awesome collaborations, Frank Ocean and Depeche Mode worked together on a track that hopefully will appear on Ocean's new record.
>> Congratulations to Mumford & Sons, Adele, Coldplay, the Black Keys, Frank Ocean and Lana Del Rey on their Not The Grammy Awards.
>> The Strokes are basically Weekend at Bernie's at this point.
You've got a few of my faves listed here, plus a bunch I've never heard…
This is such a cool idea and the performance is great (I've been twice) but…
Ugliest bunch of girls I've ever seen.
Shuddup ya dumb beatnik
Neko Case has so much to applaud. Hardest-working girl who we're glad to have on…