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Matt Ostasiewski

Matt Ostasiewski

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 12:05

UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA & BATTLES

Happily there are a number of albums bouncing through the summer time sound vibes, and two bands with albums that fit this bill will be stopping through the Urban Lounge in mid July.

The self-titled album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, playing Sunday July 10, has a flare and simple flash of a group wise beyond their years, yet youthfully playful in its range of influences. A very early Kinks vibe permeates the entire nine-track album. The strong bass and drums flip flop effortlessly between steady driving surf rock/California punk-lite pace and a funk flair that cannot be dismissed. Whether you hear Davies’ influences or other sonic kindred spirits like a young MC5 and solo Iggy Pop, check out crisp clean, indie-rock sound that harkens back more than 40 years.

Check out ‘How Can U Luv Me’

Battles album Gloss Drop has an unexpected complexity for a summer jam album. A precision electro pastiche that surges, flows and morphs, Gloss Drop constantly builds and blurs the trio’s sonic mix of bass, guitar, drums, keyboards, and countless effects. Densely woven with playful beats, layered fuzzy rythyms and digital maturations remeniscient of Coney Island carnie oddities, midway through a song it’s hard to remember where it started. It does not matter; it’s all about where Battles’ going.

Each song creates a climate of static-electric fragility (check Sweet & Shag and Sundome). At any moment Battles could take an intense steel drum infused tempo blended with heavily effected guitar distortion to another seemingly insurmountable level (lead by ex-Helmet drummer Jon Stanier’s precision), or the song’s composition could disintegrate into a digitally muddy cacophony.

Reproducing this auditory tight rope is not to be missed. Battles hits Urban on July 20. Don’t miss this trio and hope they play this summer treat ‘Ice Cream.’

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 11:51

HEY!- BLACK FRANCIS IS IN TOWN

I first heard Black Francis (Frank Black) as an impressionable puberty-stricken teen and instantly connected to his pseudo-stream-of-conscious lyrics and deftly fracturing yowls as the lead voice of the alt-deities, The Pixies. Twenty-five years of influence, breakups, side projects, pseudonyms and reunions has resulted in an unlikely indie-institution. In lieu of seeing the legends this fall, consider spending the evening with a twisted alt-troubadour, Black Francis as he brings his catalogue of off-beat songsmithing and unmistakable voice to The State Room on Friday, July 15 .

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 11:12

Headlining or Not, July Has Highlights

TWILGHT CONCERT SERIES

July brings the Thursday Night downtown institution, The Twilight Concert Series. The solid line-up for the seven shows opens with Texas instrumental post-rock band Explosions In the Sky brings their multi-layer sound and high energy to Pioneer Park, on July 14th. Check out the full lineup and exciting opportunities on how to get involved here.

Also check out Black Francis and other artists stopping through SLC in July.


To say that Merrill Garbus, ostensibly the band tUnE-yArDs, has a gift is an understatement. To try to adequately describe this gift and its manifestation from Tuesday night, May 3rd at Urban Lounge is next to impossible. Garbus, bass player Nate Brenner and a saxophone duo wove an environment of sonic delight.

Looping the varied pitches and octaves of her voice through her full pedals board Merrill is and WAS her own backup vocals. Pounding out an uptempo percussion arrangement or a cooled out rat-at-tat rhythm she captured these hooks and adds them to Brenner’s low-fi fuzzy rich baselines. She created a pastiche of digitally organic sound so simple in its parts yet full, rich and complex in its overall tone. Then, Merrill started to sing.

 Merrill's voice bounced and peaked, whispered and squeaked. Her vocals would float above the crowd like in the ethereal 'Doorstep' or jitterbug along like a skat obsessed pre-pubescent boy on a tune like 'You Yes You' or hit you over the head and punch you in the gut with a desperate force on 'Riotriot' or 'Bizness.'

 Captivating as the composition of the music is Merrill's lyrics toss and turn through happiness and angst, double entendres and simple sweetness with a self-awareness far beyond her years. No better example from the evening was 'Powa' a sultry, sweet jam with still enough awkward raunch in the cracks and variance in her vocal range to give you goosebumps.

 There's charm in her smile, wisdom in her eyes, and overall passion and vibrance that is rare these days. Enthralling and engaging, I for one am already waiting for tUnE-yArDs next stop through town.

 

Looking ahead to can’t miss shows of the weekend, my pick The Black Angels. Playing Friday night, May 6 at Urban , these psychadelic rockers from Austin have been pounding the pavement since the release of Phosphene Dream in September. This quintet, taking their name from a Velvet Underground song, creates an amazingly full sound that rides you through their distortion and low driving bass and drums to find the beautiful in the shadows of Alex Maas’ vocals.

A hot ticket for the weekend, this show is not to be missed.


 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 11:34

Record Store Day, It's More Than Just Music

To some like myself this Saturday, April 16 is more than just another way to battle the emotional roller coaster Utah spring weather graces us with.  It’s a day unlike any other for a music lover.  It’s Record Store Day, a day to avoid the internet download and the megastore and move your pasty, sun-deprived legs down to your local music store and celebrate the fact that, well, celebrate that you still have a local music store to go to.  We all have horror stories of music havens and basement shops lost along the way. Thankfully, Salt Lake City has a selection of independent businesses that embrace and cultivate the spirit of music appreciation and the innate need to keep that community thriving.

There are plenty of reasons to drop by Randy’s or Slowtrain or Graywhale or Uprok (just make sure the SLC Marathon does not frustrate your journey) but most important is to actually attend the festivities these local businesses present.  Among its many meanings, ‘living locally’ also means showing a bit of audio solidarity with your local small business owner struggling to sell just enough hot jams and indie experimentalism to eek out a living.  I don’t want to inflate the overall importance of buying an obscure punk 7” or for stopping and nodding your head at an in-store live set on Saturday, but the physical presence of a community that more and more lives in a faceless online culture should not be ignored especially by its audience in residence.

In short, find a reason, any reason to show up.  The reason you start with will not be the one you leave with.  For most this will not be hard, but in case you need any coaxing a concise list of Saturday’s goings on across downtown can be found here. I am sure to see you there.  Somewhere.

TV On The Radio – Nine Types of Light

TV On The Radio’s fourth studio release, Nine Types of Light, (out this Tuesday, April 12) keeps the quintets essential sonic & vocal layering while hitting with a far more positive overall tone, pace and vibe.  The first single ‘Will Do’ and the album’s first track ‘Second Song’ introduce the album as far brighter, and overall it stays that way.

Sure they revisit dark brooding sounds, but this take the form of R&B missions to Mars on such cuts as ‘You’ and ‘New Cannonball Blues.’ Heavily distorted vocal and instrumental bass rumble through otherwise simple rhythm and blues songs, producing what TVOTR does very very well - soulful space jams for the elevators of the 23rd century.

There’s a lot to choose from during Record Store Week, but make sure to pick up Nine Types of Light. Tunde and Kyp’s vocals, a bit of a new approach to horn arrangements and that signature atmospheric tonal fuzzy funk may be just the spring current that you need to lean back into and float on for a time.  Anytime’ll do.



tUnE-yArDs  - w h o k i l l

With w h o k i l l   (due on next week, April 19) it is evident that tUnE-yArDs (the brainchild of the sonically resourceful Merrill Garbus) has taken great pains not to lose the awkward brilliance displayed in her first release, BiRd-BrAiNs, as well as in her live performances.

Looped percussion progressions and background vocals, all Garbus’ own, lay down a bed of quirky danceable rhythm that gives her freedom to experiment further with each track.

If Sleater Kinney were the house band for Nina Simone and Beck with the Supremes (sans Diana) singing back-up mixed through a Speak & Spell you might get close to the auditory chaos that flows through Garbus.  Yet, in all its cacophony it works.  The catchy hooks and elusive beats take hold, fall apart and then are rebuilt upon themselves.

Check out gems such as ‘My Country,’Killa, ‘ and the masterfully odd ‘Gangsta.

 tUnE-yArDs bring the oddball beauty to the Urban Lounge May 3rd.

 Also, from w h o k i l l s is this engaging video for the track 'Bizness':



Beastie Boys  - ‘Make Some Noise’

The first single, ‘Make Some Noise,’ jumps on ya’ with a whiny, nasally bass line and heavily distorted vocals reminiscent of the early 90’s circa Check Your Head.   Hype men extraordinaire, this live track whets the appetite for a few more weeks.

It’s premature of course, but with May 3rd release of Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2 as well as the Sundance short film and soon to be viral hit, Fight For Your Right – Revisited, its nice to see the trio is still kickin’.  As midlife encroaches on these ‘Boys with grey hairs, kids and serious health issues (MCA is said to be doing well), its great to see they’re still having fun and bringing more energy that anyone in the game.


 

Monday, 28 February 2011 16:43

MARCH 1st: 2011's true 1st day of Spring

I have been waiting.  Waiting through the schizophrenic winter, waiting through the toxic layers of inverted atmosphere, patiently waiting.  Waiting for the spring concert season to start. No one knows when the season ever reeeally begins, but before you know it there is a show every other day and all of the Salt Lake Valley's outdoor venues start to come alive as well.  

For what it's worth, I would venture to say that March 1st is the start of the season.  Three very different acts at three very different venues, but if you can swing it make sure that you check out at least one of the folowing:

 

HEARTLESS BASTARDS at The State Room - Two words.  Erika Wennerstrom.  I will be front and center listening to this hard rockin' lady with a voice that will punch you in the face then kiss your swollen cheek.  She and the rest of the Bastards are straight-ahead, mean rock & roll, present and perfect.  Do not miss them.

 

DEVOTCHKA at In The Venue -  This gypsy tinged quartet seem to tour through the Mountain West every year or so, this time in support of their fifth studio album 100 Lovers that is released on this same March 1st.  If you've never seen them, they are well worth the price of admission for their beautiful string arrangements and heavy brass bass lines.  Amen, to the sousaphone!

 

UGLY DUCKLING at The Urban Lounge - For all the hip hop heads out there, do not miss the break beat oddities and sick vocal stylings of Andy, Dizzy and Young Einstein.  A Cali group that always shows love to the SLC so get up and get out and nod your head to this trio.  You're neck will be glad you did.

 

 

 

Thursday, 11 November 2010 23:00

Sleigh Bells

Were you there?  Do you remember?  Or are your ears still ringing?

Sleigh Bells hit Urban (Oct. 22) with a ferocity that has become the signature of their live shows.  Guitar wielding production mastermind Derek Miller's sound engulfed the crowd accompanied by a solid steady bassline undertow.  Pop-core vixen Alexis Krauss simply never stopped moving.  A blur of sight and sound she kept the pulse of the show volatile.  This wall-of-sound duo was thrash, dance, hip hop and bubble gum pop blended together, crackled through a back stack of Marshalls.

There's a reason this Brooklyn pair are on the rise after blowing out earphones with their debut, Treats, they just plain rock with a sound that is inescapable.  Or,  as was screamed to me by a friend from a foot away with a huge smile filling his head bobbing dome, "I don't even care if he's playing that guitar!!!"

Thursday, 21 October 2010 22:24

Menomena at Urban Lounge

The Portland indie-rock band, Menomena, crept through downtown SLC last week, headlining a show that also included fellow Oregonians, Tu Fawning. The now quartet (Joe Haege plays with both bands) brought a great energy to the nearly capacity crowd. Swapping vocal duties and switching out instruments were Brent Knopf on keys and glock­en­spiel and Justin Har­ris on saxophone and bass ripping through their set.  However, the highlight for me was drummer Danny Seim who absolutely pounds while taking on his share of the vocals. It’s evident that they are an incredibly tight band that plays off of and challenges each other within a set while still having a blast.  That is and was Menomena.  They look to be on a hiatus before starting a European tour in November.  In the meantime you can support them by picking up their most recent release, Mines. http://www.barsuk.com/bands/menomena

The song ‘Five Little Rooms’ is a favorite and was an absolute highlight of their October 15th, Urban Lounge set.

http://menomena.com/

Thursday, 21 October 2010 21:22

Embrace the Pop. We always do.

Simple Pop Music.

It’s inescapable.

It’s a staple of every generation, with the young hip peeps always listening to some little diddity that’s catchier than all get out. Yall know what it is when you hear it.  Whether you're 8 or 80 you know what pop is and you have been tapping your foot and humming along your entire life.

When I say Pop, what do you think of?  What is it that you love?  What’s your guilty pleasure?  The ones you always, eventually, sing along to?

It doesn’t matter, just remember that lil’ gem, the way it made you feel the first time you heard it.   Maybe play it a little bit later.  Maybe on your way home from work.

Recently, I have been filling my Steve Jobs supporting ear holes with a number of younger artists that seem to be carving out their own sound.  They all seem to be taking up their own baton in this saccharin-laced musical lexicon in ways that I can’t seem to avoid and seem to have legs.  They are distinct yet reflective and appreciative of what came before as they push forward.

Some are easily describable, others just deserve a listen but they all have one thing in common. 

They damn well know their pop music forefathers.

Below are a few that have been mainstays in my circulation of pop goodness recently:

 

Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

This album came out at the beginning of 2010, but its longevity in my consciousness should say a lot about how solid this album is.

This Silver Lake (LA), California group has played Kilby (middle of last May) and has started to garner a decent following around the country playing solid live shows backing up their album.  That album is easily one of the 10 best that’s past my way this calendar year.  Their simple, concise songwriting paints vividly specific images that are never forced or untrue. These minimalist portraits of life, love and living through the organically mundane of your day to day make them almost nostalgic for their impending future.

The essence of the group is their layered impressive harmonies that truly echo in the caverns of the rock pop icons of the 60’s.  It takes only a faintly discerning ear to conjure up images of the young Natives scratching mom and dad’s Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Mamas & The Papas and Simon & Garfunkel records from repeated use.

I challenge you to listen to the first four songs and not hear these pop reverberations.  ‘World News’ sounds like it could be a B-side off The Beach Boys classic ‘Pet Sounds’ if not for the slightly updated twinge of bearded hipsterness.

Don’t sleep on the Talking Heads cover ‘Warning Sign’ farther down on the album either.

A great strip down live version of a few of their tunes is available here: http://pitchfork.com/tv/%23/episode/2622-local-natives/2

The Local Natives are currently planning on spending the month of November on tour in Europe and currently have no plans to swing back through the mountain time zone but keep tabs on them at: http://www.myspace.com/localnatives

 

Aloe Blacc – Good Things

This young cat lives in the vinyl 45 stacks of yester year.  His tight arrangements with timely horn licks and background vocals leave more than just a hint of a young Marvin Gaye and Sly Stone lingering in the air.  Aloe absolutely knows what he wants out of every track.  He knows what his voice can do and he does it very well.  In his songwriting he has a critical eye that is sharp and clear in its message, a message that is overall very positive.  He is a true soul gentleman in the mold of, dare I say, a young Sam Cooke (http://youtu.be/bQx728q1Sbo).  For those who know, you know I take that comparison very, very seriously.

Check out the already popular single ‘I Need a Dollar,’ ‘Politician,’ the slick double entendre of ‘Miss Fortune’ and the catchier than possible ‘Green Lights,’ to hear what the buzz is about. Better yet come support this artist as he plays Urban Lounge on Tuesday November 9th.  If you don’t get there, check back here for a review because there is no doubt I’ll be in the crowd.

http://www.aloeblacc.com/

 

 

Fitz & The Tantrums – Pickin’ Up The Pieces

 Make no mistake about it this is a pop record. The slick, life long Los Angeleno Michael ‘Fitz’patrick would surely admit as much and frankly embraces it. The sound is old and new.  It sounds like what you have heard before but not quite. Fitz, a session producer/artist who seems to be the love child of a young Robert Palmer and David Byrne, has found his voice. Let’s just hope that T-mobile doesn’t take them over too soon.

The hook from one song has you humming along like a classic Temptations gem while another has you snapping your fingers and faking a falsetto as if singing lead on any of the classic Berry Gordy canon.  A dollop of saxophone and a dash of female doo-wop vocal evens out Fitz’s heavy front man sound, sometimes becoming the focal point for just long enough to realize the talent bubbling up through the aptly named Tantrums.

The album is solid, a bit redundant in a few spots with themes reminiscent of every third Motown love song, but ultimately this album makes you do exactly what a new disc from a new band should make you want to do…Go See Them Live. Don’t miss ‘Dear Mr. President,’ ‘L.O.V.’ and ‘Rich Girls,’ off this release.

Check them out live here and hope they make there way through town soon:

http://youtu.be/gDU5UR881RY

http://www.fitzandthetantrums.com