Thursday, July 17, 2014

Interview: Peter Matthew Bauer Embraces Chaos After The Walkmen

Peter Matthew Bauer
Photo Credit: Matt Barrick

Last November, long-time favorites The Walkmen announced their indefinite hiatus, leaving behind 13 years of some of the greatest modern American rock music.

When the news struck, I can't say I wasn't surprised, but that doesn't mean it had no affect. The group's 2011 album, Lisbon, is one of my favorites of all time, not to mention the previous albums all shaped my perspective of music; the band released their first album alongside the arrival of great NYC bands like The Strokes and Interpol, but managed to hold their grounds as one of the city's finest (despite hailing from Philadelphia).

But in 2012, with the release of Heaven, the "human" side of the group really started to take form. Family members made their way onto the album art, and the songs began to feel more interpersonal. Thus, when the "hiatus" was announced, it seemed that the band was ready to step aside from music, and focus on relishing in this "human" side a little more.

But that wasn't necessarily the case. This year, three members of The Walkmen have released solo projects. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser released Black Hours, an album that contains some of the same character as The Walkmen's previous two albums, and echoes what the group was trying to
accomplish, but instead with more jazzy vocal pop and old folk influences, noting heavy influences of Frank Sinatra, Randy Newman and Bob Dylan, amongst others.

Multi-instrumentalist Walter Martin released a more family-oriented album, We're All Young Together earlier this year as well. Martin stated that he created the album with his daughter in mind - he began writing the album while his wife was pregnant with their first child, and the results clearly reflect this. There's even room for a novelty song, which features The National's Matt Berninger, called "We Like The Zoo ('Cause We're Animals Too)".

Where these two albums falter, it's The Walkmen's former bassist and multi-instrumentalist Peter Matthew Bauer who picks up the slack. His album, entitled Liberation!, focuses heavily on Bauer's religious experiences growing up, and translating them into brilliant, light-hearted pop-folk songs. I recently had the chance to speak with Peter about his album, and the transition to becoming a solo artist.

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I made sure to tread lightly, when talking about The Walkmen with Peter Matthew Bauer, the band's former bassist & organist - although, as they progressed as musicians, the members all became multi-instrumentalists. This may be a sign of the growth of the band members over their 13-plus-year career, or it may have been a sign of the quintet grasping for thrill in a project that could have become trite and arbitrary. In an interview with Noisey, Bauer said, "My hope is that by the end of the year I won't remember being in The Walkmen." So I did my best to avoid the subject.

But I had to get one question in...

"It seemed like people cared," Bauer says when addressing my only inquiry that mentioned the words "The Walkmen," about how he viewed the fans' reaction to the hiatus, "but it was kind of fun breaking up the band.

"When you're in a group, you're constantly trying to play certain roles. Whoever is in the group, no matter the dynamic," he says speaking generally, "you're constantly compromising, which can be a good thing when you're young, or in certain scenarios. But in other scenarios it can be a really bad thing. It's not like groups don't work, because obviously they do, but leaving the group - leaving that dynamic is a very... very interesting thing.

"It's certainly [emancipating], but you're looking for life in whatever you're doing, that's the point of this stuff: you look for this raw energy to things. And... everything dies, y'know? That moment in time-- it dies off, and that's the case.

"I was talking about this to someone else, too. Where, you know those guys that have been in bands for like, 50 years - you know, those kind of "old-timer" bands? And you can see the physical deterioration in people who have been a proper band member for that long. They just look terrible. Like something has just gone haywire, physically; versus, you know, there's plenty of lifer [solo] musicians who kind of keep it together and things get better. So it's an unhealthy thing, really. A band is basically an art project- it's a project. You can't consume your life to it forever. And as soon as it stops being an art project, and starts being more of an organization, it loses the basic reason to exist that it once had, and it becomes more about feeding people... it has a time limit."

Bauer maintained a very light-hearted tone throughout our chat. He may have sensed my nervousness, talking to a key member in one of my favorite bands. But then again, it seems like that's just his personality... his album is filled with charm and humor, despite its overtones of religion and spirituality.

"I would hope most people on earth think about that sort of thing," he says laughing, speaking of the themes of Liberation!, "It's sort of a basic human idea, as people say 'Write what you know' -- you know that old hogwash thing? But it ends up being true, when you're trying to find a way to express something sort of universal to people. 

"This is obviously what I care and think about, the books I read, and things that matter to me. Those are my experiences."

But Bauer never admits to being as wise as he comes across, another reason I went in to the interview cautious to not get over my head. The opening track on Liberation!, "I Was Born In An Ashram" is actually written based around his life, as is most of the album. Raised by his family visiting various Hindu places of worship and study, Peter spent a lot of his "formative" years studying under gurus and an Indian astrologer, learning intricacies within the Hindu religion.

"Those are my experiences, [but] it's not like I'm trying to solve anything, or tell anyone anything, because I don't have any resolutions to anything that arises from it. But I do feel a lot better doing it, and a lot less angry about things of that nature.

"I've been really lucky, being able to meet sort of 'walking saints' and healers and all these people that, in a very strange manner, most people don't get to relate to. It's very [important] to who I am, I studied with these people that spend their whole lives trying to get to be, without feeling like a sort of disciple to anybody."

In Liberation!, Peter Matthew Bauer's lyrics reflect not only his beliefs and personality, but his process of writing as well. One of my favorite tracks of the album, "You Are The Chapel", Bauer plays up the charm and humor, singing, "I see you lookin' like Oasis / Why does anyone wanna look like Oasis?!". But in the same song, he sings "You are the chapel / and everything is wonder" after the chorus "Here comes the mystery of love / Yeah, I see the mystery / Here comes the mystery of everything".

"... 'You Are The Chapel' [is a] song that is supposed to be trying to haul as much information as I could come up with about disparate situations and trying to get at a very basic expression of something.

"It was just a different way [of writing], y'know, I'm not Hamilton [Leithauser], and he writes songs his way. In a band, you're in a support role to the voice; really, that's the idea, and that's what you should be doing - I think, anyway. This is a different thing, it's a different type of music, it's about something different. And I think what was frustrating to me is I like music that's about something specific, and it's very hard to pull it off without sounding kind of -- silly. It was important that everything was kind of trying to be funny even if it came off as something self-serious, or at least at the time it felt funny for a second [laughs]

"Mysticism and spirituality -- certainly not religion -- but that kind of idea is inherently a really ridiculous thing... and so is rock and roll - so is all music. And that's the most important thing to get to, y'know you think about some of the greatest writers who think about that stuff. Kafka is seen as this very self-serious guy, but when he was reading his stories out loud to his friends, they were all laughing. That stuff is supposed to be funny, all that shit is supposed to be funny; it's absurd. That's what you're aiming for, you don't know what you're gonna get out of it.

"In a sense I was brought up, and this is what I arrived at: you usually kind of go through a lot of things when you're frustrated with hierarchies and intricacies in cultures surrounding religion. But I do feel like my parents were bright people and I was brought up to try not to believe anything - to go past belief at all times. And that's basically the idea behind the record too: any belief you have, if you keep breaking it down, you get to something real. You get to experiences as opposed to beliefs. And it's a process of doing that over and over and over again, and one part of beliefs that I have - the sort of frustration and youthful antagonism towards spirituality. And that in itself is a belief structure, so you have to find a methodology to get your experience and your consciousness.

"It's kind of a normal thing, you know: "Heaven is a far away place" - but it's right here, right now. Liberation is not something that takes a million years, or all your life; it's not a goal it's a basic idea...

"But [the album] is also trying to make fun of that," Bauer says laughing.

When I spoke with Peter, he was on his way to Seattle, playing a show at The Barbosa with Japanese Guy. He'll play Chicago at Lincoln Hall on Saturday, July 19, as part of a Pitchfork Festival Aftershow, and a piece of their new live concert series Nightcap.

I asked him how the shows had been going, something I was honestly interested in: it's not every day you get to relate and talk with someone in Bauer's shoes.

"Good!" he responds emphatically, "you know, you definitely start from scratch, and it's a tough, tough, tough, road. We're driving endlessly, and just throwing money out the window. It's crazy... but a lot more fun. A lot more fun than something where you know what's going to happen -- you basically don't know what's going to happen next, which is a great feeling."

Peter now thrives in a state of chaos, embracing it almost as if he was meant to live in it.

"When we were touring with The Walkmen, you knew you'd get paid and you'd get a hotel room. Now I'm sleeping on an ant hill in like a desert [laughs] it's terrible. I wake up in the morning, basically wondering how I'll make it to the end of the day. But it's a lot of fun.

"With The Walkmen it was very boring: you knew what you were gonna do, you knew who was going to be in the crowd, you knew what people were gonna look like, you knew some guy was gonna yell 'THE RAT!!!" then you'd play 'The Rat' and the guy would still yell 'THE RAT!!!!!' and then you'd go home. It wasn't a lot of fun. But this is a lot of fun, it's a very different thing. All that stuff is a kind of formative experience, being in a group -- and then you don't want to go back."

Peter Matthew Bauer tours with a 7-piece band, which is made up of several friends, including his wife. The group still needs a name or a title, which Bauer admits:

"My wife and another girl sing with me. I think we're on the edge -- we've only played 15 shows or something -- but I think we're on the edge of having a really great band. The people in it, the whole thing, it feels like a band in a different sense. We're not a band, we're not all 20-year-olds trying to start a gang, but instead it's kind of cool: it has its own structures; there's a sort of anarchy to it that I like, politically, where everyone is there and trying to have a good time and enjoy themselves. It's a great group of characters. And I know it's my name but we also need to come up with some sort of backing band name, because they definitely have a vibe -- they're definitely not hired guns by no regard. We're really getting something going, and it's starting to be its own, high-energy thing. I'm excited about it.

"A lot of them are old friends. Some guys, Mickey Walker, a Philadelphia guy, I've been on tour with him since 2001 or 2002. Another guy Matt Oliver, one of our guitar players is from Austin, TX. We toured with [Matt] years ago, and kind of lost touch until making this record. And he ended up mixing a lot of this record. And Sky [Skyler Skjelset] is from Fleet Foxes, and I've known him a couple years and we've become really good friends."

Liberation! is the strongest of any member from The Walkmen's solo endeavors. It's filled with fantastic lyrics that achieve exactly what their author intended, and Bauer surprises you with a voice that pays homage to some of the great solo vocalists who only need one name; Reed, Dylan, Springsteen, et al. Somehow, Bauer has kept all of this a secret for almost 14 years, and if nothing else comes from the void left by The Walkmen's split, Bauer's Liberation! at least makes the absence much smaller. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Festival Preview: Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 - Sunday, July 20

With Pitchfork Fest rapidly approaching, it's time to preview the last day... the big payoff of the festival. Much like last year's fest, the daily lineup for Sunday is packed with tough decisions. In hopes of making these a little easier for you, I've laid out some key time slot battles that you'll come across during Sunday's festivities, and did my best to make the choice for you. And as always, we have a Spotify Playlist for you to preview every artist playing the Fest on Sunday.

Speedy Ortiz (1pm @ Blue Stage) -vs- Mutual Benefit (1pm @ Green Stage)

Your first choice of the day basically comes down to two genres, so pick your poison. Speedy Ortiz is an indie-grunge quartet based out of Massachusetts, and coming off of a very well received LP, Major Arcana including receiving "Best New Music" from Pitchfork upon it's release last year.

Mutual Benefit fits into multiple genres, but they play heavily off of electronic and folk music. The band has no concrete lineup of members, but rather is an amalgam of musicians gathered by frontman Jordan Lee. Like Speedy Ortiz, their latest album, Love's Crushing Diamond received Pitchfork's "Best New Music" label, and sounds somewhat like a cross between Lord Huron, Phosphorescent, Conor Oberst and a touch of Bon Iver.

Verdict: Can't go wrong here, I might float between the stages, but will probably start with Mutual Benefit... if I get bored, I'm heading to the Blue stage for some female-led grunge.

DIIV (1:45 @ Red Stage) -vs- Perfect Pussy (1:55 @ Blue Stage)

One of the toughest decisions of the day, and probably the weekend.

I enjoy DIIV's sound, as I'm a sucker for the late 80s punk-slash-new wave revival that is taking the scene by storm lately. I love Beach Fossils (DIIV's lead singer Cole was a founding member of the group) and DIIV's sound isn't too far off.

Perfect Pussy came away from this year's SXSW as one of the most talked about new artists. They feature a fairly heavy punk sound, led by singer Meredith Graves. The name itself is probably one of the most divisive names around, and those who haven't heard them before are either going to be drawn to the group's afternoon set, or turned off by it completely.

Verdict: Gonna stick with DIIV here. Cole has a habit of making his live performances pretty memorable and potentially very controversial. Either way, this time slot features two performers that have the potential to be huge conversation pieces post-festival.

Deafheaven (2:30pm @ Green Stage) -vs- Isaiah Rashad (2:50pm @ Blue Stage)

Again, if you know what kind of music you like, and stick to it, this decision will be easy for you. For people who are consistently on the fence and are just looking for a more memorable performance, this decision will be tough.

On one hand, you have Isaiah Rashad, an up-and-coming emcee who has collaborated with everyone from Schoolboy Q to SZA, who are also both appearing at Pitchfork Fest that weekend. For the sole reason alone of anticipating an onstage collaboration with EITHER of those artists, it makes the set worth checking out. Rashad comes from Kendrick Lamar's TDE, so you know there's some promise here.

On the other hand, you have Deafheaven, one of the most critically well-received post-metal bands of last year, if not ever. Their 2013 album Sunbather consistently found its way to Top 10 lists at the end of last year, and brought metal fans out of the woodwork.

Verdict: Can't turn down a chance to see a metal act at a festival like this, they usually show up. Not to mention, I'll be looking for some aggressiveness in the festival after Death Grips dropped out/ quit on everyone. But I may stray away towards the end of the set to check out some Top Dawg Entertainment.

Earl Sweatshirt (3:20 @ Red Stage) -vs- Dum Dum Girls (3:45 @ Blue Stage)

God damn this is another tough one. Earl has been my favorite member of Odd Future since they came upon the scene (well, famous rapping member... nothing tops Frank Ocean). Not only does he drop some of the best verses, he's also one of the most funny and controversial members - two things OFWGKTA does very well. Earl has recently stated that his Summer/Fall tour dates were going to be cancelled, due to exhaustion, but vowed to play Pitchfork that weekend, including an after show appearance at Metro on Saturday night.

Dum Dum Girls @ SXSW14 
Photo Credit: Kellen Nordstrom

Meanwhile, Dum Dum Girls boast a sound that is so "Summer" to me, I'm not going to be able to stay away from the set for long before my ears are magnetized by Dee Dee's voice and my body follows suit. I love west coast surf rock.

Verdict: Another split. I will probably start at Earl and meander my way over to Dum Dum Girls, there seems to be enough of a gap to be able to do so. Once again, not a loser in this bunch.

At this point in the day, we're getting to some pretty big names and there's a half hour between sets. I'll switch back to my usual format, and highlight some sets I'm not going to miss...

Schoolboy Q (4:15pm @ Green Stage)

One of the hottest hip hop artists around, coming from Kendrick Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment label, who he also founded the group Black Hippy with, Q has had an incredible year. His debut album, Oxymoron debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 list, and features some of the best flow and hook talent of any hip-hop album I've heard this year.

I have high hopes for a Q/Kendrick collab of "Collard Greens" - one of my favorite songs this year - at some point on Sunday.

Real Estate (5:15pm @ Red Stage)

Not much else to say here aside from the fact that Real Estate's Atlas is one of my favorite albums that has come out this year; I'll also be watching them perform in a much smaller, more intimate setting, the night before as they play an after show gig at Lincoln Hall with Peter Matthew Bauer (of The Walkmen) for Pitchfork's Nightcap series... but more on that within the next couple of days.

Here's their video for "Talking Backwards" off of this year's LP, Atlas:

Grimes (7:25pm @ Red Stage) & Kendrick Lamar (Sunday's Headliner 8:30pm @ Green Stage)

No brainers here.

I've never seen Grimes live, and have had the biggest music crush on her since her last album Visions, which had her exploding onto the scene in 2012. I've heard really bad things about her sets before, but after hearing positive things from friends and colleagues who saw her new stuff in NYC at Governor's Ball last month, I'm convinced the bad sets are behind her.

I'm incredibly pumped to hear some of her new stuff as well; her latest single, "Go" is one of my favorite dance tracks this year, and seems to be a welcome change... despite what the hipsters say. I kind of like the trap elements in the chorus/breakdown.

Kendrick Lamar @ SXSW'13
Photo by Kellen Nordstrom
On the other hand, Kendrick is one of my perennial favorites. I've seen him 3 times since his insanely well-received album, good kid, m.A.A.d City came out, and I don't mean to say this as a bragging right. He's grown so much since the first time I saw him at SXSW '13, performing with just his DJ on stage, resulting in just a normal hip-hop set.

The last time I saw him, opening for Kanye West during his Yeezus tour (one of the best show's I have EVER seen, by the way), Kendrick was backed by a full band, and his set was incredible. I'm hoping he turns up to Pitchfork with that band, and some gnarly visuals, and puts a fantastic end cap to a weekend that's sure to be amazing.

Also performing on Sunday: Jon Hopkins (4:45pm @ Blue Stage); Majical Cloudz (5:45pm @ Blue Stage); Slowdive (6:15pm @ Green Stage); DJ Spinn (6:45pm @ Blue Stage); Hudson Mohawke (7:45pm @ Blue Stage) - Poor Hudson, scheduled two years in a row against Sunday's Headliner.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Festival Preview: Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 - Saturday, July 19

If you thought Friday was stacked, then you clearly weren't paying attention to the schedule, because Saturday's Pitchfork Fest lineup gets even better. Check out the preview below of sets we won't be skipping, and you can listen to the Spotify Playlist below.

Hopefully none of the bands listed below will disband via chicken-scratch-on-napkin after this post.

Saturday, July 19

Twin Peaks (1:00pm @ Green Stage)

Another one of my sleeper picks for this year. Total surf-punk, reminiscent of Surfer Blood, Wavves, or Mikal Cronin/Ty Segall, these Chicago natives will look to impress everyone they can as they open Saturday's Pitchfork lineup. Their debut LP, Wild Onion, will be out on August 5 of this year, and this will be our first glimpse at one of the albums that may sneak into many year-end lists. Check out their lead single, "Flavor" below.

Cloud Nothings (3:20pm @ Red Stage)
Speaking of year-end lists, Cloud Nothings released Here and Nowhere Else earlier this year, and you'll be hearing a lot about this group come December. Their album strikes chords of early-90s punk, with that fun-loving vibe you can draw from listening to a Japandroids album.

After seeing them open for Kurt Vile at SXSW this year, I came away thinking this would be one of 2014's best groups, and I'm not going to turn down any chance I come across to see them live.

Here's their track, "I'm Not Part of Me" - my favorite track from their latest album.

Pusha T (4:15pm @ Green Stage)
One of my favorite hip-hop acts of all time was Clipse, who, along with N.E.R.D. changed my view of the genre for the rest of my life. Lord Willin' was one of the first rap albums I bought, so you bet your ass I'm excited for Pusha T's set at Pitchfork, one of my most anticipated all weekend.

I'm equally excited to hear tracks like "Nosetalgia" and "Numbers on the Board" from last year's highly-applauded My Name is My Name. King Push also finds his way into many of my favorite Kanye West tracks, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear him drop some of those verses as well. Not to mention his trademark "yuuckkk" - which I've spent countless hours mastering.

Apparently while opening for 2 Chainz here in Milwaukee, Pusha flashbacked to some of his Clipse tracks, but most of the crowd - composed of mainly under-20-white-kids weren't as excited as he expected, much to his disappointment. Pusha T will not leave Chicago disappointed if he provides us as solid of a set as I know he's capable of... I'll make sure of it.

tUnE-yArDs (5:15pm @ Red Stage)
One of the enigmatic voices of indie music today, Merrill Garbus aka tUnE-yArDs has quite the reputation for delivering a wildly entertaining live show. I don't know much about her, as I've never bought in to the hype, but what better time for her to make a sales pitch to me?

Danny Brown (6:15pm @ Green Stage)
If there's one thing PMF isn't lacking on this year it's quality hip-hop acts.

Danny Brown made some headlines with his onstage antics, and will make his return to Pitchfork Fest this year, after a jam-packed Blue Stage appearance in 2012. The scrawny, high-pitched-flow, "Grown Up" almost sounds like a Dave Chappelle-inspired meme, but everyone I've heard from swears his live show is good if not great. Add this to the list of can't-miss rap acts at Pitchfork this year.

Check out his video for the throwback-inspired track, "Grown Up" below.

St. Vincent (7:25pm @ Red Stage)
The beautiful, graceful, and ever-so-talented Annie Clark is destined to win some new fans over. It's a shock to me that everyone on planet earth isn't as in love with her as I am, but 2014 is proving to be her year. After a fantastic collaboration with David Byrne, in which she refused to be put in to the Talking Heads's frontman's shadow, Clark released Rattlesnake this year. The album is a bit more electric than what fans may have expected from the sound her previous albums Strange Mercy and Actor would elude to, but it really helps her in a live setting.

After seeing her perform at Milwaukee's Turner Hall Ballroom earlier this year, this is a live show I'm insisting everyone I know to attend. Clark absolutely tears up on guitar, all while dancing a choreographed routine around an incredibly elaborate stage setup. Her banter may be odd, but her beauty, refinement, and talent level will blow any onlooker away.

Neutral Milk Hotel (8:30pm @ Green Stage)

Last year's Saturday Pitchfork lineup provided me a chance to see one of the bands who had the most influence on my tastes growing up, Belle & Sebastian. This year is no different, and in fact, without Saturday's headliner Neutral Milk Hotel, I'd likely never have gotten into B&S.

Jeff Mangum will likely not allow photos, and I wouldn't be surprised if he banished press altogether. But I'll keep my head down, keep to myself, dance and sway to "Aeroplane O'er The Sea" and smile like a teenage boy first listening to Neutral Milk Hotel.

Also Performing on Saturday: FKA Twigs (7:45pm @ Blue Stage); The Field (6:45 @ Blue Stage); Kelela (5:45pm @ Blue Stage); The Range (4:45pm @ Blue Stage); Mas Ysa (3:45pm @ Blue Stage); Empress Of (2:50pm @ Blue Stage); Wild Beasts (2:30 @ Green Stage); Circulatory System (1:55pm @ Blue Stage); Ka (1:45pm @ Red Stage)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Preview: ODESZA & Bonobo (Live) - Turner Hall - July 9, 2014

It's not often that I promote electronic music, so when I do, I hope it means something.

In my opinion, there's a sort of grade scale when it comes to live electronic music. I've done my best to portray that below:

F= Guy (or girl) stands on stage, hits an iPad app or computer buttons, stands relatively still
D= Guy (or girl) stands on stage, hits button on computer, jumps up and down, goes batshit on stage
C= Guy (or girl) hits button on computer, plays a hit song you like, "remixes" by playing guitars over it
B= Band comes out on stage, plays original music and tinkers with it to create an original, unique mix of a song you may have heard from them before.
A= Band comes out on stage, interprets song that was created on a computer, creates a unique mix of a song you may have heard from them before, but instead uses live drums, guitars, keys, etc.

I've seen the full grading scale, and the best shows are always somewhere between the A-B range, obviously. Artists like James Blake, Classixx, and Toro Y Moi all come to mind as some at the top of their game.

This Wednesday, July 9, Milwaukee will be host to another potential A+ electronic music showcase, as Bonobo brings a full live band with him to Turner Hall Ballroom (Tickets and Info available here). Judging by the tour video shown below, it looks like the band is pretty extensive, featuring nearly a half dozen people on stage with him, and... is that a violinist?

I wouldn't be doing my job correctly if I didn't sell you on the opening act, and luckily this time, it's not a hard sell. ODESZA, a duo from Seattle, Washington, have been putting out mixes and original music for just a couple of years as a group, but much longer as individual producers.

The duo have quickly rose from a bedroom production duo to one that can sell out some of the biggest clubs in the US (including recently The Echoplex in LA and The Independent in SF). Milwaukee will be lucky enough to catch them as an opener for Bonobo this week, before they head out on a headlining tour in September.

If you like them enough, you'll be able to catch ODESZA at The Majestic Theater in Madison, when they swing through on their headlining tour, October 11. The best part about the duo? You can acquaint yourselves with their stuff before seeing them live - head over to ODESZA's website and you can download their latest EPs for free. In the meantime, stream their My Friends Never Die EP below.

Once again, tickets are available here. Don't miss out.

Death From Above 1979 Premiere New Song "Trainwreck 1979", Announce New Album Details

The wait is over. Well... almost.

We've gotten more details surrounding Death From Above 1979's sophomore LP, including release date and track list.

The Physical World will be released on September 9 of this year, and you can find the track list below, as well as a glimpse into the sounds of the album, with a new song called "Trainwreck 1979" which received the old 'lyric video' treatment this morning. Pre-order bundles are available here, and on iTunes.

Track List for The Physical World

Cheap Talk
Right On, Frankenstein!
Always On
Crystal Ball
White Is Red
Trainwreck 1979
Nothin' Left
Government Trash
The Physical World

In addition to all of this exciting news, the band has also announced a tour(!!!!!). I'll see you on November 25, Chicago...

09/6-7              Toronto, ONT, CAN        Riot Fest Toronto
11/01               New Orleans, LA            Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
11/03                Atlanta, GA                    Buckhead Theatre
11/04                Nashville, TN                 Marathon Music Works
11/06                Houston, TX                  Warehouse Live
11/07               Austin, TX                     Fun Fun Fun
11/08                Dallas, TX                     Granada Theater
11/10                Tempe, AZ                    Marquee Theatre
11/12                San Diego, CA               House of Blues
11/13                Santa Ana, CA               Observatory
11/15                Las Vegas, NV               Brooklyn Bowl
11/17                San Francisco, CA         The Independent
11/18                Portland, OR                  Crystal Ballroom
11/19                Seattle, WA                   Neumos
11/21               Salt Lake City, UT          In The Venue
11/22                Boulder, CO                   Fox Theatre
11/24                Minneapolis, MN            First Avenue
11/25                Chicago, IL                    Rivera Theatre
11/26                Detroit, MI                     Crofoot
11/28                New York, NY                Terminal 5
1129                 Philadelphia, PA             Union Transfer
12/01                Washington, DC             9:30 Club
12/02                Boston, MA                   House of Blues

As of this posting, September 9th is exactly 62 days away. Let the countdown begin.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Festival Preview: Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 - Friday, July 18

Festival season isn't really a thing anymore, you can find one pretty much any weekend somewhere in the country, but this July, one of our favorites kicks off, when Pitchfork Music Festival takes over Union Park in Chicago.

Last year was my first time experiencing the fest, and I was instantly won over; the weekend was one of the highlights of my summer. After being to multiple festivals with the same problems: over-crowding; over-priced food & drinks; lack of resources like water during the incredibly hot days; lackluster line-ups especially during non-peak hours... you get the point. PMF offers cures to all of these, not to mention you're not breaking open your bank to attend - 3-Day Passes went for $130, and single day passes are available here for $60.

The festival also features reasonably priced beer and food, which is an absolute must if you're planning on surviving three days on a budget. Beer is provided locally by Goose Island, and they actually make some delicious beers, at a reasonable price too. Food providers include Chicago Diner (which is all vegan, and super delicious - and I'm not even a vegan), Chicago Homemade Pizza, Chubby Weiners, O'Brien's, Puffs of Doom, and Wishbone, amongst others.

Pitchfork Festival houses some other super cool vendors, like places for local arts & crafts suppliers to sling their goods, and a Record Fair featuring local record shops selling vinyl for super cheap; I scored a 7" of Prince's "Purple Rain" on all purple vinyl last year. There's also an entire strip of walkway that I referred to as "The Danger Zone" last year - actually called Flatstock - where the country's best show poster artists set up booths where you can purchase posters they've made over the years. Literally thousands of amazing pieces of artwork are available for purchase here, and had I come with $50,000 to the festival last year, I'm certain 99% of it would have been spent here.

But what's more important to a music festival than the music, right? Let's get down to it.

Pitchfork is packed with so much wholesome goodness, that I need to split this preview piece into three separate pieces. Let's start with Friday. If you don't feel like reading, you can check out our Spotify Playlist on your own device by clicking here.

 FRIDAY 7/18

Death Grips (3:30 @ Red Stage)

Just like last year, I'll be starting off the weekend with a punch in the face. Last year I rushed to Trash Talk as one of the first sets of the fest, and this year Death Grips will be the first set I won't want to miss. The experimental hip-hop/hardcore group is breaking down barriers with each new album they release (er--leak, themselves), and their live show is a force to be reckoned with. Oh, and the group is only two members... which is insanity considering how much "noise" they make in a single song: check out "Hustle Bones" - a video which features a POV of money and weed being tumbled in a dryer.


Factory Floor (4:15 @ Blue Stage)
Next up, I aim to check out Factory Floor, an artist off one of my favorite labels of all time, DFA. Their sound is a fresh take on "post-industrial" music using plenty of live drums and synths to accompany the stirring vocals.

Sharon Van Etten (5:30 @ Red Stage)
Ah yes, I get to be reunited with one of my favorite female singer-songwriters, Sharon Van Etten. One of indie music's favorite female voices, Sharon (as she lets me call her) is sneakily a fantastic musician as well. Her music comes across as down-tempo, acoustic rock, but her live shows will never bore you. And if you get the chance to talk to her around the festival grounds, you'll be blown away by how genuinely nice and caring she is as well. Fresh off the release of her latest album, Are We There, she'll be sure to dazzle you with new music, as well as some old favorites like "Serpents" and "Warsaw". Check out "Taking Chances" from her latest album.

SZA (6:15 @ Blue Stage)
One of my sleeper picks for 2014 is SZA, although it's difficult to call her a sleeper pick, with the amount of favorable press she's been getting... not to mention the amazing acts that collaborate with her on her latest album, Z.

SZA has the potential to be a great pop star, her electronic beats back a fantastic voice with an immense amount of glimmer (I'm sure someone said that about Lorde at one point as well, and look how far she's made it).

I'm surprised she'll be playing the fest's "small" stage, but I'm not complaining. Don't miss her set, even if it's the tail end of it after checking out another act. Her track "Babylon" features Kendrick Lamar, Sunday night's headliner. It's a shame the acts aren't sharing the bill on the same day, because I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up collaborating onstage with her for the track... nevertheless, I wouldn't put it past Kendrick to show up, Pitchfork has a recent history of bringing together their acts (much like last year's Sky Ferreira x Blood Orange's Dev Hynes version of "Everything is Embarrassing").

Giorgio Moroder (7:20 @ Red Stage)

I'll be the first to admit, I hadn't really heard much of Moroder before Daft Punk's latest album, which relied heavily on Moroder's production and pure-funk guidance. The results were a Grammy Award-winning album for best album in 2013, and probably more importantly, many bloggers and critics placed Random Access Memories in the upper echelons of their year-end lists. Whether or not you agree with that album's heavily lauded acclaim, it's difficult to deny Moroder's place in music history.

I may not have heard of Moroder, the proclaimed "Father of Disco," before 2012, but I'd definitely heard his influence. Active since 1965, undoubtedly longer than 98% of the crowd at PMF has even been alive, and working with such infamous acts like the aforementioned Daft Punk, but also Donna Summer, Freddie Mercury, and helped score films like Top Gun, Flashdance and Over The Top. If this isn't a dancing hipster's wet dream, I'm not sure what is.

If you're like me, you're a sucker for Italian-bred synth disco, and if you're also like me, you wouldn't be found anywhere else at 7:20 p.m. (Central Time) in the world. This will be a set not worth missing, and one that will undeniably get you to move your ass.

Here's Moroder at his finest, with "Too Hot To Handle" from 1977.

Beck (8:30 @ Green Stage)

Alright, alright, it wouldn't be a music festival worth attending if you weren't somewhat excited for the headliners. I dipped out of last year's opening headliner, due to my fear of thunderstorms and previous overkill on Björk from working in an Urban Outfitters from 2004-2006. But this year, it's all different.

Beck headlines the opening night of PMF, and it's difficult to deny there's ever been an artist that has consistently put out good music, for as long of a timespan as Beck has. It'd be cliché for me to say something like "it seems like only yesterday that Beck released 'Loser'" and to be honest, I'd be lying. I was nine years old then, and we've all grown up since that track was released, Beck included.

Not only has his music stayed good, but it's maintained relevancy. He has released twelve albums. TWELVE. All of which have stayed true to Beck as an artist and a person, never changing his style to conform to a record label or the industry's demands. That has to be worth something. Go see Beck.

Also performing on Friday: Hundred Waters (3:20-Blue), Neneh Cherry - performing in her second EVER U.S. show (4:35-Green), The Haxan Cloak (5:15-Blue), Sun Kil Moon (6:25-Green), Avey Tarey's Slasher Flicks (7:15-Blue)