Friday, June 28, 2013

Local Music Happy Hour: Calliope

Here at Fake Plastic Tunes, we have a couple of favorite things: talking about music, and day drinking. Thus, in an effort to combine these things, we introduce our new semi-regular segment, Local Music Happy Hour, where we talk to some local (primarily Milwaukee) bands, drink beer, and then introduce them to you, the internet.

For the first edition of our "Local Music Happy Hour", FPT sat down with Al Kraemer, frontman of Milwaukee band, Calliope. We discussed their self-titled album, performing live, chicken/egg scenarios, and, briefly, hair product.

Calliope's music has been described (by themselves and others) as progressive oldies or future blues, but it's ultimately psychedelic classic rock. When asked how he would describe the band's sound, Kraemer opened with, "Well, we're not a rap band." After extensive research, FPT would like to confirm that Calliope is not, in fact, a rap band. Point one for self-awareness.

To say that Calliope is classic rock is not to discount their creativity, however. The album, overall, is interesting both musically and lyrically. A heavy blues influence can be heard throughout, 60s guitar riffs, Jim Morrison-esque vocals, and a youthful energy that keeps the classic from sounding stale. When asked about the inspiration behind the album, Kraemer explained, "We wanted to show people we could play some songs." A noble goal, and a mission successful.

Likewise, Calliope's live performances are the farthest thing from stale. The energy on stage is magnetic, and makes it impossible for the crowd not to have fun. Each show seems to leave all involved sweaty and soaked in Hamms, regardless if it takes place in summer heat or a frigid Wisconsin winter.

We asked Kraemer which he preferred between writing and recording vs. performing live. "It's a double-edged sword. The feeling you get when you finish a new song is really exciting, especially when everybody else is really excited about it... Playing live is the release. It's the chicken to the egg, man. Which came first?" We reminded Kraemer that he just stated that writing comes first, because that makes sense, and then toasted our beers to chickens. This was the first discussion of the chicken/egg metaphor, and the only one that even kind of made sense.

As for discussion of hair product, we will let you ask Al Kraemer himself how he keeps his locks looking so luxurious. You can catch Calliope in Milwaukee:

6/30 - BREADFEST - Quarter's
7/2 - Summerfest - Cascio Groove Stage @ 7:30
7/26 - Mish Mash Fest - Art Bar

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Festival Coverage: Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 Preview

Pitchfork Music Festival is back in 2013 for it's seventh year in Union Park in Chicago and like previous years, it packs a heavy-hitting lineup. The festival runs from July 19-21 and FPT will be there providing you with coverage of all three days.

The three-day festival is put together by Pitchfork Media, the most popular indie music website on the internet, collecting over 4 million hits per month, so you can be sure that the lineup will feature some names you're destined to see in the future. To put it into perspective, some undercard lineup spots were held by Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, and Youth Lagoon in 2012; Cut Copy, Twin Shadow, Toro Y Moi, and Deerhunter in 2011; and in 2010 featured Robyn, Smith Westerns, Real Estate, and Local Natives all as "supporting" daytime acts.

This preview piece, along with our Spotify Playlists arranged by day, will help make sure you don't miss 2014's next big thing.

Day One: Friday, July 19

Headliner: Björk

The famed Icelandic singer-songwriter brings her soprano voice to Chicago, and even though she hasn't released an album since 2011's Biophilia, the crowd will be sure to turn out in high numbers for the elusive singer.

Her live shows have always been a spectacle, fully equipped with wild outfits, backup dancers, and an awe-inspiring light show/visual system. It'll be interesting to see what she can do with a festival setting, which can often feature toned-down set pieces and shortened sets.

Can't Miss: Friday's sets start a little later than the other days, presumedly to ensure people can get off work and commute to the festival, so this means the lineup is a little thinner in names, but not on notoriety. Here are some second-tier headliners worth checking out:

  • Joanna Newsom - The crooning harpist always gives out a performance that is sure to give you goosebumps and make your knees buckle a little (or I don't know, that's the rumor). Her sound is a stark contrast to a lot of what Pitchfork Friday has to offer, which is a very heavily punk-influenced sounding lineup of artists. Nevertheless, her show will be one which no attendee will want to miss, if nothing else to watch Ms. Newsome's (and future Mrs. Andy Samberg) multi-instrumental talent. 

  • Mikal Cronin - A name that has eluded me for far too long, I'd not know of Mikal Cronin had it not been for his latest release MCII. Cronin at times blends a wondrous amount of guitar tones and styles behind a beautifully done layering of harmonizing vocals, and at the next turn you can be taken back to some pure 70s lo-fidelity punk. Be sure to check out this set, you'll be hearing of Mikal Cronin throughout the rest of this year and into next.

Sleepers: There's a good amount of hidden gems in Friday's schedule, from punk to metal to surf rock, there's something for everyone to enjoy throughout the day.

  • Trash Talk - Odd Future's resident metal act are known for an in-your-fucking-face live show, but what else would you expect from an OFWGKTA punk group? I've been dying to see this band for far too long, and missed them at this year's SXSW, so I'm welcoming the opportunity to see what the Trash Talk moshpit looks like.
  • Mac DeMarco - Another name you've undoubtedly heard of recently, opening for acts like Phoenix and Japandroids, Mac DeMarco is actually one of the artists I'm most excited to see. His live sets are as sleazy as they are silly, often incorporating a cameo of covers intertwined into his own music. DeMarco's music will be a perfect fit for a hot summer day in Chicago, and will undoubtedly get the drunk kids in neon vibing just right.

Also Performing: Frankie Rose, Daughn Gibson, Angel Olsen, Wire, Woods

Check out our Pitchfork Fest Friday Spotify Playlist, complete with one song from each artist (with the exception of Joanna Newsom, who cannot be found on the Spotify Database)

Day Two: Saturday, July 20

Headliner: Belle & Sebastian

Like many people, Belle & Sebastian hold a special place in my heart. The original indie pop group (at least, personally), I've been dying to see the Scottish seven-member group for as long as I've loved indie music. I've had an opportunity here and there, but never been able to follow through. 

Their live sets are comprised of many of the old hits, and I can only hope the group will divulge into some story telling and tales of yore. This will be a show to remember, and one that I will hope never ends.

Can't Miss: Saturday brings more punk, but sprinkles in some extra indie folk and pop goodness ...oh and Solange.

  • Phosphorescent - Supporting one of 2013's best albums, Muchacho, Phosphorescent is going to go down as my most viewed group of the year, this being the fourth time I've seen them. Each show has proven to be different, a new experience with common motifs: graceful guitars, crooning vocals, majestic harmonies, and a keyboardist that words can't quite describe.
  • Savages - England's best post punk band puts on one the best live sets around, so I've been told, reminiscent of Joy Division. Their brand of gritty guitars, spiteful lyrics, and intricate, abrasive song structure have gained them a lot of hype in 2013. I can only imagine their live set to be just as in-your-face, and I'm beyond excited to see.
  • Solange - It's almost a shame that Solange is forever standing in her sister's shadow, because her songwriting is actually incredibly good. Her influences stretch far beyond the pop world (I spotted her sidestage at a SXSW Toro Y Moi show) and this is another one of those Perfect Summer Night shows, guaranteed to lighten the mood and get some feet moving.
  • The Breeders - Formerly a staple of the 90s grunge scene, Kim Deal's former side project to the Pixies is back in action. The group, now featuring a lineup of Kim & Kelley Deal, Jim Macpherson, and Josephine Wiggs, will be performing their most successful album, Last Splash in full, continuing the Pitchfork Fest tradition of having reunited acts performing full albums. If nothing else, this show is worth checking out for a little trip down memory lane.


Metz @ SXSW 2013
  • Metz - I was lucky enough to catch a Metz set at SXSW, and my knees were shot the rest of that week. The stage, which was knee-height, was being consistently shifted not only by me but by those around me, as a respectable mosh pit opened up behind me. That didn't distract me, however, from one of the best punk trios I've seen in a long time.
  • Merchandise - A band that's been on the radar for the past year, Merchandise is primed to take off. Taking advantage of the rise of popularity of post-punk and new wave, this band could be one that ends up near the top of the bill in years to come.
  • Parquet Courts - Drone-and-stoned punk at its best right here. "Stoned and Starving" might be one of my favorite songs of 2013, and their live set fully delivers what their studio sessions incapsulate.

Also Performing: Rustie, Andy Stott, Low, Swans, Ryan Hemsworth, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Julia Holter, Pissed Jeans, Ken MODE, White Lung

Check out our Pitchfork Fest Saturday Spotify Playlist, complete with one song from each artist.

Day Three: Sunday, July 21

Headliner: R. Kelly

One of R&B's most famous and notarized performers, R. Kelly returns home to Chicago to put an endcap to Pitchfork's weekend in the sun. And what an endcap it will be. I can only imagine what the crowd will be like for this show, but needless to say, it's gonna be a fucking S H O W.

Can't Miss: Probably the most stacked day of the festival, Sunday is literally full of great acts from top to bottom. And if R. Kelly isn't your bag of tea as the headliner, you'll be plenty busy throughout the day, and you even have a notable production duo to check out if "The R. in R&B" ain't your style.

  • M.I.A. - The outrageously outspoken hip hop artist never really seems to be out of the spotlight, and even more so, she seems perfectly comfortable there. She has a new album coming out this fall, called Matangi - the title serves both as a reference to M.I.A. herself (whose birth name is Mathangi) and a deity in Hinduism (the Tantric depiction of Sarasvati - the goddess of music and learning). All of this leads one to believe that M.I.A.'s show will be one to remember, previewing both new material and revisiting some of her older goods as well.
Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi at SXSW 2013
  • Toro Y Moi - Easily one of the top sets I saw at SXSW, and one of my favorite albums this year, Chaz Bundick has done nothing but deliver in 2013. A blend of R&B, funk, and electronic music that does nothing but induce smiles and shoulder shakes, and the best part: he does it all with a live band behind him.
  • TNGHT - The duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice have a daunting task ahead of them: match R. Kelly on Sunday night. But if there's anyone in the lineup that could play the same time slot as R., TNGHT is the act to book there. With songs like "Higher Ground" and the unreleased "R U Ready" (featured on Kanye West's Yeezus track, "Blood on the Leaves"), the duo have been sweeping the US since last spring. It'll definitely be worth checking out during some possible downtime in R. Kelly's set.
  • Foxygen - Another fabled SXSW set, their performance at Red 7 during the fest was probably over analyzed and equally as overly scrutinized. I've seen what these guys have to offer, however, and their sporadically daring live shows are something to behold. Foxygen's latest album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic has so much indie folk/pop/psychedlia goodness on it, the band has quickly become a household name, and the band is destined to make 2013 their year.
  • Sky Ferreira - Another one of SXSW's "When Good Artists Go Meltdown" sets, Sky actually found a special place in my heart during the festival. The 20-year-old model-turned-singer can actually sing, and although her stage presence can be a little calm, her voice and pouty eyes are enough to get a rise out of any crowd. I gave her another shot during an Easter Sunday show in Madison this year, and can attest to the fact that this girl's set is one you won't want to miss.
  • Yo La Tengo - Destined to be a great set, it's hard to picture a better setting for a YLT show than a hot, summer, Chicago day. Basically as old as I am, the group has continued to hold true to their independent roots, releasing Fade this year via indie label Matador Records. Their shows are always entertaining, and the group always seems to have a trick (or cover) up their sleeves.


  • Autre Ne Veut - I know very little about the man behind the name Autre Ne Veut, but I've heard nothing but good things, and the music is pretty stellar to boot. Not just another production whiz, his shows are supposed to be stellar as he sings his self-produced tracks. What more could you expect from a former jingle writer?
  • Blood Orange - One of my favorite artists out right now, this will be one of the shows you can brag about seeing in the future; y'know, one of those "I saw him before he was big" moments. Because trust me, Blood Orange's Dev Hynes will be a name you'll see in the future. His music channels the best of The Weeknd and How To Dress Well, mixed with a dash of Prince. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT sleep on Blood Orange.
  • Lil' B - One of my favorite internet personalities, Lil' B, puts out some decent rap tracks as well. No one loves Lil' B as much as Lil' B, and his twitter feed borders on meme-status, but nevertheless, this show should be entertaining. Who knows, maybe we'll even be lucky enough to witness a Lil' B-patented "Girl Time" session.
  • Chairlift - Indie dream pop's next big thing, the Brooklyn duo Chairlift have released songs you've heard... and probably even tapped your feet or nodded your head along to. "Bruises" was featured in an iPod commercial a few years back and "I Belong In Your Arms" is just plain good.
  • Tree - If you're really into seeing an artist before your peers, check out Tree, Chicago's next big MC, whom you probably know nothing about. His grainy voice brings an edge to his smooth delivery, and his beats and hooks provide the ever-crucial term, "accessibility." 

Also Performing: Glass Candy, Evian Christ, Waxahatchee, El-P, Killer Mike, DJ Rashad

Check out our Pitchfork Fest Sunday Spotify Playlist, complete with one song from each artist (with the exception of Tree, DJ Rashad and Evian Christ).

We're extremely excited to deliver our own brand of Pitchfork Music Fest coverage, complete with photography and daily coverage.

Although 3-Day Passes are sold out, you can still buy single day tickets for $50. Visit and for more information on tickets, scheduling, stage information, as well as other things Pitchfork Fest has to offer (there's a vinyl trade in program!). Follow @pitchforkfest for the latest news, announcements and exclusive content.

Follow our editor/photographer Kellen for FPT's live coverage @KellenYouSoftly

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Festival Coverage: Fake Plastic Tunes Heads to Electric Forest 2013

Nearly one day away from Electric Forest, Fake Plastic Tunes is getting ready to cover one of the most buzzed about festivals of the summer. Electric Forest may be packed with jaw dropping names, especially from the EDM scene, but as mentioned in the Festival Preview, one of the many beautiful aspects of this festival is the opportunity to discover new music. Below I compiled a short list of artists Fake Plastic Tunes will be in attendance for (more to be added), along with the "Must Sees."

The String Cheese Incident (3 Shows), Pretty Lights, Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, Knife Party, Above & Beyond, Lotus, Benny Benassi, Yeasayer, Beats Antique, GrizMatik, Holy Ghost!, Nervo, Eoto, Future Rock, Orchard Lounge the Polish Ambassador, Flosstradamus, Railroad Earth, Pigs on the Wing, GrizMatik, Morgan Page, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Future Rock and many more. To view the full lineup I encourage you to visit the official Electric Forest website.

The "Must See" list in no particular order:

The String Cheese Incident:
Love them or hate them, we have to pay some homage to one of America's most significant bands spanning a career over 14 years. They have built an incredibly large and devoted fan base, being recognized for their commitment to musical creativity and integrity and innovative approach to the business of music. With a reputation for being a true "live band" and playing all three nights, there really isn't a reason to see them at least once.

There are few bands in particular that I have been buzzing about from their start, and Yeasayer is one of them. 2007's All Hour Cymbals offered sounds ranging from experimental rock to neo-psychedella, making it one of the most significant albums of the 2000s. 2010's Odd Blood and their most current release, Fragrant World expanded their meaning of experimentation, featuring a broad range of genres, the group has managed to carve out a unique identity for themselves. Yeasayer are truly making 21st century music, EF eloquently described Fragrant World, "Couched in healthy fear, yet unafraid to move forward and expand, pulling in new influences just as frequently as new worries, Yeasayer have created a difficult, dense and beautiful record. It's as much a synthesis of the last three decades of pop music as it is a new way of grappling with the end of time."

Reptar is quite possibly one of the most underrated up and coming bands to appear in the music world over the last few years and is hands down one of the bands I am most eager to experience again. Inspired by world-music the band has built a unique "blend of danceable and electro fused pop." They continue to gain praise over their highly energetic, intimate yet "riotous, must see live show" and we at FPT can attest to that.


Holy Ghost!:
Currently signed to DFA Records (LCD Soundsystem, Yacht), Holy Ghost! are an American synthpop duo from Brooklyn, NY. With an interesting range of vocal accompaniment, the duo is largely known for their dance grooves, resulting in an unforgettable live experience.


I'm not sure I can say it much better than EF here: "Throughout all of it, the dance jams, the abused samples, the widely swaying moods and tempos, Lesser Evil is sewn together by the distinctive tones in Woodhead's voice, ranging from the tender femininity of Sunrise and Holographic Sandcastles, to full-blown, tripped out howling on She is the Wave. A bold and varied offering that never once waivers when it comes to ingenuity, energy and imagination." Doldrums is known to leave audiences capitvated and energized.

Empire of the Sun:
Quite possibly one of the most anticipated acts of 2013, Empire of the Sun took the music scene by surprise with 2008's highly praised and critically acclaimed Walking on a Dream. The Australian duo are back with their highly anticipated Ice on the Dune, which is to be released just a few weeks prior to Electric Forest so you can definitely expect some new material. With their widely praised and outlandish live performances, Empire of the Sun is without a doubt a must see.

Passion Pit:
The Massachusetts group formed in 2007 and released the Chunk of Change EP a year later. Despite its positive reviews I personally feel the 6 track EP is often overlooked even though it holds some of their best work to date. It also cleared the path for what would become their widely recognized debut LP, titled Manners and eventually Gossamer, both brilliant, highly successful electro-pop albums.

This project consists of drummers, Michael Travis and Jason Hann, EOTO is a group that has been swarming the festival scene for years. With an industry so heavily saturated with electronic acts, this group continues to rise to the top with their innovative live performance, organic instruments and "uncharted musical exploration." Eoto is widely known for their live setup, performing nearly 200 shows a year with each show different than the last.

Lotus is one of those live bands I fell in love with early on in college and although they have long since elaborated on their early funk driven jam sound, they still bring heavy dance beats and synth to the stage. Lotus has crafted a unique musical style outside of simple genre limitations, resulting in a highly infectious show.

Eliott Lipp:
Synthesizer enthusiast Eliot Lipp un-expectantly became one of the most popular artists in the contemporary electronic music scene. Lipp is known to use vintage gear creating a unique modern sound taking influence from Hip Hop and House. He is one of the industry's most influential musicians widely respected throughout the world.

Russ Randolph and Zion Rock Gochaux, also known as BoomBox, are two versatile DJs, producers and multi-instrumentalists who incorporate an array of sounds into their diverse musical style. With a touch of blues, vintage rock, and psychedelia on top of their signature backbeat, the duo have the ability to create their "hybrid style on the fly." Each show is said to be unique to both the venue and the crowd creating a one of a kind experience for those in attendance.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue:
Dubbed as "Supafunkrock," and with over 200 shows in the last year, the group continues to push their own limitations to explore new musical territory. Talk about diversity at a festival, this group pushes the limits of your traditional brass band incorporating elements of jazz, rock, funk & hip hop.


Again for the complete lineup or for more information on the full artist lineup, tickets, the programs or any FAQ's you might have visit:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Listen: Ellery James Roberts (WU LYF) - Kerou's Lament

It was a shame when WU LYF vanished from the music scene after their fantastic debut album Go Tell Fire To The Mountain. If you were a fan of the mysterious nature of the band and their music and thought you would never hear their sound again - Today is your lucky day. Lead man Ellery James Roberts has gone solo and has a brand new song and video titled 'Kerou's Lament'. The lyrics and video for the new song are both pretty powerful, and on the border of disturbing.


MGMT Release Details on New Self-Titled Record

MGMT, our favorite psychedelic-pop duo, is coming back this fall with a self-titled third record, due out September 17th via Columbia Records. The reclusive duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have reportedly been recording as a duo, without the help of the backing band that accompanied them for 2010's Congratulations.

I, personally, am of the smaller division of people who actually preferred Congratulations' psycho-structure over Oracular Spectacular's hooks, but fear not, as the group has enlisted the help of Flaming Lips' producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann was also at the helm for the band's debut LP. This shouldn't necessarily be taken as a hint that the band will make a full circle return to Oracular Spectacular, but hopefully all you haters out there will be pleased with what the results.

You can find the track listing below, as well as the video for MGMT's latest (Record Store Day cassette) single, "Alien Days"


1 “Alien Days”
2 “Cool Song No. 2″
3 “Mystery Disease”
4 “Introspection”
5 “Your Life Is A Lie”
6 “A Good Sadness”
7 “Astro-Mancy”
8 “I Love You To Death”
9 “Plenty Of Girls In The Sea”
10 “An Orphan Of Fortune”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Watch: Deer Tick - "The Rock"

Deer Tick released today the video for "The Rock", the first single off of the upcoming Negativity. The video is incredibly simple--a very close, black and white single take of singer John McCauley, with the song lyrics projected over.

Throughout the four minutes, McCauley looks anywhere from mildly uncomfortable in front of the camera to totally devastated, and ultimately makes the viewer want to give the guy a hug (probably). A far cry from the rip-roaring video for Divine Providence's "Main Street", "The Rock" is much closer to the tone of the 2007 release and fan favorite War Elephant.

Negativity does not have a release date as of yet.

Watch: Yeah Yeah Yeah's Spectacular New Video for "Despair"

Karen O and The YYY's have been to many places over the span of their 13-year career. And thus, as it started in NYC back in 2000, the group has released an amazing video for the song "Despair" which finds them performing at one of NYC's greatest landmarks- on the top of the Empire State Building.

Karen O released a statement (on working with Daughters, who have directed many of the band's videos) which sums up the surreality of the band's climb.

“I felt like I could give as personal a performance because of our history together. It was important to us that it felt intimate despite being filmed at one of NYC's most famous landmarks and an international cultural icon. It was my first-ever trip up to the top of the ESB, top of the world, we were up there from 3am to sunrise, I'm guessing very few get to see that view from up there at those hours. 
“I gotta say I had a ‘the impossible is possible’ moment up there with Nick and Brian. If someone would have sat us down at the Mars Bar years back and told us that we'd be performing our music on the top of the Empire State Building one day, we probably would have thought that's the stuff that dreams are made of, not us, no way.”

Watch: Splashh - Feels Like You

Monday mornings are always good times to check out a fun video. Up-and-comers Splashh have their debut album Comfort, due out on September 2nd, and in the mean time have a shiny new video for their new single 'Feels Like You'.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Watch: Small Black - "No Stranger" Video

Brooklyn synthpop group Small Black released their sophomore album, Limits of Desire last month, and is an early highlight of 2013. The track "No Stranger" was paired with a video, released today, and features a highly romanticized storyline that actually fits the track's theme quite well. Check out the video below, and be sure to listen to Limits of Desire, you won't regret it.

Watch: Glasvegas - If

The new video for Glasvegas' new single 'If' will be out on iTunes on July 8th, but in the meantime you can watch the video over at NME.  The video features a cameo from Star Trek legend, Captain James Tiberius Kirk - William Shatner.  Glasvegas new album Later...When The TV Turns To Static will be released on September 2nd via Rough Trade.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Watch: Foals' New Video - "Bad Habit" (NSFW)

English rock group Foals has always been known for their fantastic videos, usually mesmerizing and engulfing, and today the group released the video for "Bad Habit" and the results are no different. The stand-out track from 2013's Holy Fire receives a fantastic video, directed by Nabil Elderkin, which can be viewed below (keep in mind this video features nudity, thus NSFW).

Watch: Editors - The Weight

It feels as if the Editors have been away from the action for some time now as their last album In This Light And On This Evening was released back in 2009.  Well they are back and well with their highly anticipated fourth album The Weight Of Your Love which is set for release on July 2nd.  The first single and listen in on the album is the song 'The Weight', and it lives up to what we have heard from the band in the past. 

Watch: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Better Days

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros self titled album is due out on July 23rd, and in the meantime they have been paving the road for the release with the first single 'Better Days'.  If you are having a bad day in any shape or form take a look at the video below and it will clearly cheer you up.  The lyrics go perfectly with the oddball video and it is sure to put a smile on your face.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Listen: JAWS - Gold

The young up and coming Birmingham band, JAWS have been one of my go to new bands of the past year.  Their uptempo garage pop sound is so refreshing and is a band that I want to pound the table for in hopes that they find success here in the US. 

Their new single 'Gold' will be released July 29th on the Rattlepop label and is yet again another step in the right direction for the band.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Album Preview + Concert Preview: Hospital Ships at Mad Planet, Milwaukee, June 15

As summer kicks in, the desire to do more with our spare time becomes more and more dire with each passing week. This desire is steeped not only in the events, but in music as well. It is statistically proven that people are more receptive to new things and ideas in the summer months (full disclosure, I just made that up because it sounds good and correct). Well this Saturday, Milwaukee residents are in luck because they have the opportunity to conquer both desires with one fell swoop, as local music venue/dance club plays host to Kentucky's Hospital Ships.

Hospital Ships started, like a lot of indie music does nowadays, from a bedroom. Originally Jordan Geiger's bedroom project molded while he was working with other bands (Minus Story, Shearwater). Deciding to commit to the band, and enlisting the help of a full band, Hospital Ships has formed to be a touring and studio recording band. Their debut album, Destruction In Yr Soul, is due out this summer, and the group is going off on their first headlining tour.

That tour rolls through Milwaukee on Saturday June, 15, and I feel like there is potential for something great to be contained within the walls of Mad Planet that night. And lucky for me, the band has put their album up on Pitchfork Advance, so you don't just have to take my word for it.

The songs held within sophomore effort, Destruction In Yr Soul are very rousing, to say the least. Geiger's voice is almost a spot on early-Ben Gibbard (and I hate to say this, because I actually cannot stand when fans make these comparisons), and delivers a sound that sounds like if Death Cab never gave up on the beauty they created with The Photo Album.

Hospital Ships focuses on creating alternative indie music, and the group delivers very well. The songs are of good length (nine songs, totaling just under 45 minutes), and feature a great deal of depth instrumentally yet the compositions never lull the listener into a state of boredom. And although this may sound like a hefty list of back-handed compliments, I actually mean all of this in the best possible way. This album is incredibly impressive, and even more so being that it comes from roots that we've pulled from the ground and seen before... ad nauseam, I might add.

"Come Back To Life" is an amazing closing-song-serving-as-an-opening-song, and "If It Speaks" (streamed above) comes forward as a fantastic means of introduction to Geiger and his surrounding band. Both songs are epically driving and can remind the listener of not only garage rock but psychedelic and folk as well. Many of the songs, like the album's centerpiece "Lost Folk Song", follow a structure that results in a whimsical and climactic conclusion, an aspect that should translate to a great live show.

I honestly think that this band has the potential to blow an audience away, and Milwaukee hosts a prime opportunity for music nerds to really catch on to something good. Not to mention that the band is serving as support for locally-housed/nationally-recognized greats The Fatty Acids and Jaill. And for a meager $6 I'd say it'd be worth it if Hospital Ships were a stand-alone act.

Destruction In Yr Soul is due out June 18th, via Graveface records.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Washed Out Premiere New Track and Preview Album/Tour Details

Washed Out's new track is absolutely phenomenal, and I can think of nothing better to preface the group's album and tour details, both found below the lyric video. The new track is called "It All Feels Right" the album is called Paracosm and the group will venture to a city near you in late Summer.

Paracosm Track Listing
1. Entrance
2. It All Feels Right
3. Don't Give Up
4. Weightless
5. All I Know
6. Great Escape
7. Paracosm
8. Falling Back
9. All Over Now

Washed Out Summer Dates
8/24 Monterey, CA @ First City Festival
8/25 Los Angeles, CA @ FYF Festival
8/31 Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot Festival
9/2 Victoria, B.C. @ 9ONE9
9/3 Vancouver, B.C. @ Fortune Sound Club
9/5 Eugene, OR @ WOW Hall
9/6 Portland, OR @ MusicfestNW
9/8 Sacramento, CA @ Launch Festival
9/10 Boulder, CO @ Fox Theater
9/12 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
9/13 Chicago, IL @ Metro
9/14 Detroit, MI @ Laneway Detroit
9/15 Toronto, Ontario @ Opera House
9/16 Montreal, Québec @ Corona Theatre
9/18 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
9/19 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
9/20 Boston, MA @ Wilbur Theatre
9/23 Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle

Watch: HAIM perform "Forever" on David Letterman

Don't believe me when I say HAIM is just as amazing live as they are in studio? Check out their debut on Letterman last night for the undeniably catchy song "Forever" and listen for yourself. But don't come crying to me when you can't turn your volume up any louder and you find yourself clapping along during the breakdown.

Album Review: Surfer Blood - "Pythons"

Surfer Blood began as a dorm room project housed by lead singer John Paul "JP" Pitts back in 2009; releasing their debut album, Astro Coast, in 2010 via Kanine Records to nothing less than rave reviews from some of music's most well acknowledged critics. The album put them in the ring with some of rock music's biggest names, drawing comparisons to bands including Pavement and The Pixies. Their brand of surf rock intertwined with punk edge instantly won my ears over, and Surfer Blood became one of my best kept secrets.

In 2011, the group released Tarot Classics, a four-song EP that was nearly flawless front-to-back. The band kept their edge with pop sentimentality and incredibly catchy songs like "I'm Not Ready" and "Miranda" while JP Pitts' voice glistened as a throwback gem, his baritone and vibrato touching chords rivaled by very few singers, yet it remains nostalgic enough that you feel like you've heard it before.

There have been tumultuous times within the group since their debut efforts, and these times are hard to ignore. Last fall, lead singer JP Pitts was charged with domestic abuse, and although he claims the charges were dropped, these charges will hover over the band for a fair amount of time to come, if not remaining there for good. It is up to every listener to make a decision whether or not to give the man and the band a second chance; to look the other way and take the music for what it's worth. It is of this writer's opinion that, for the time being, the guy and group could use a second chance. However, many people will understandably write this band off, much like Chris Brown way back when, and to be honest, that's a fairly understandable position to take as well. But let's focus on the music.

To avoid the treacherous cliché "sophomore slump," the group enlisted the help of Gil Norton, who produced The Pixies' classic Doolittle way back in 1989. Norton helps bring out the group's pop glory while staying true to their surf rock roots displayed so wonderfully in their previous works. There is a lot, (and I mean A LOT) of Doolittle interlaced in Pythons, and it helps explain some of the newer elements within Surfer Blood's music.

This is very beneficial to add to the group's dynamic, which some may think would be losing a step had the band released another Astro Coast. Surfer Blood tweaks some very small aspects to their sound, but the quartet stays strong within the tone they've locked themselves in to. Says frontman JP Pitts, "Making Pythons was a really natural process for us. We had all this energy from spending so much time on the road that once we all got in a room together these moments literally just flowed out of us."

For Pythons, Surfer Blood travelled to Chicago as a group to refine their songwriting skills, collaborating as a group much more than in the past, and the effort is clear. From first listen you can hear the tightness within pop punk-inspired tracks like "Demon Dance", "Gravity", "Blair Witch", and "Say Yes to Me" - all of which are very similar and rigid in their construction and delivery. "Gravity" might just be the tightest song the group has written in their career, despite it being one of the last tracks prepared for the album; the song features a very Blue Album-era Weezer sound to it, with well-ordered drums and guitars, layered with JP's spot-on vocals throughout, a chorus of harmonizing vocals, and an instrumental break that is highlighted by timely, sustained guitar distortion (which reappears multiple times on Pythons).

Norton brings out other approaches to musicianship from the group as well, including the screaming that can be heard sporadically throughout the album. Surfer Blood (specifically Pitts) touched on this element in their lead single from Astro Coast, "Swim" but have shied away from it since. This is another one of those instances where you can directly see the influence the group has taken from time spent with The Pixies. "I Was Wrong" and "Slow Six" can essentially be looked at as Surfer Blood's homage to Black Francis, Kim Deal and company.

Pythons glistens with nostalgic elements that bring me back to my giddy glory days of pop punk listening. The album's details touch on bands I used to listen to "back in the day" circa The Promise Ring, Smoking Popes, and of course the aforementioned Weezer and Pixies. "Say Yes To Me", the album's stand-out track is destined to be one of the summer's best songs and warrants repeated listens. The band also slows it down with the album's two of the final three tracks, performing in 3/4 (or 6/8) time signature for the first time on the whole album, straying away from the overall throwback surf pop feel of Pythons; and the results are still just as good as the rest of the album's efforts.

The main downfall of Pythons is its length. Ten tracks span just over 30 minutes, and with so many hooks and catch to the songs, you're basically left begging for more by the time the final song, Prom Song, finishes, as if the album is a season of your favorite television series, leaving you on the edge of your seat as it ends. It would have been nice to see a little more concept brought out through the album, especially since the band reportedly had written over 20 songs throughout the course of the last year and a half.

Overall, Pythons puts forth music that will make it easier to forget the band's miscues in the past. The group has grown musically, and their sophomore album is anything but a slump. With Pythons, Surfer Blood proves that they will no longer be that band I am able to keep up my sleeve.

Rating: 4.2/5

Check out the band's video for the first single off of Pythons, "Demon Dance" below.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Listen: Poolside share new track - "If We Make It"

One of my personal favorite artists, Poolside, has released a new track called "If We Make It". The song fits perfectly into their self-coined genre, 'daytime disco' and gives even the very best current funk/chillwave artists on the boards today. Their album, "Pacific Standard Time" was ranked as one of FPT's top albums of 2012.

There is no news yet of whether this will be featured on a new release from the California duo anytime soon. So for now, enjoy the track, (it's really not that difficult to do) and you can bet FPT will let you know more Poolside details as soon as we get them.

Watch: Kurt Vile - KV Crimes

When I think of Kurt Vile and his music the first thing that comes to mind is how talented he is and the second thing is how humble he is.  That is what makes this video for 'KV Crimes' so great is that it is totally out of Vile's element and to portray him as a king is almost humorous.  In the end the song is King and Vile continues to gain my respect as he continues to produce some high end music.

Listen: Jonathan Rado - Faces

Foxygen's album We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic has been one of the strongest releases of the 2013 music year, and has forced me to give everything related to the band a serious listen.  Well in comes Foxygen band member Jonathan Rado with his solo effort Law and Order which is set for a September release date on the Woodsist label.  Take a listen to the first cut titled 'Faces' and mark your calanders for this solo release.

Watch: Temples - Colours To Life

Temples are 2013's version of Tame Impala as they deliver a heavy dose of psychedelic rock.  Their latest single 'Colours To Life' will be released on June 24th via Heavenly Recordings.  The song itself is very strong and if you can overcome lead man James Bagshaw's hair in the video you may want to watch/listen on repeat.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Watch: Father John Misty's "Funtimes In Babylon"

Check out the video below for Father John Misty's standout track "Funtimes In Babylon" off of last year's Fear Fun (my favorite album from 2012). The grim video follows Josh Tillman (formerly of Fleet Foxes fame) through a plane wreck with some very grainy, VHS-styled cinematography. Tillman also shares directing credit for the video with Grant James on the video.

Side note: Tillman is also releasing his own women's fragrance. Yes, you read that correctly.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Watch: Vampire Weekend - "Diane Young"

"Diane Young" - the first single from Vampire Weekend's instant classic, Modern Vampires of the City, got a proper music video and was premiered today. The video, directed by Primo Khan continues the tradition of VW's spirited and entertaining music videos, and features cameos by a few of the group's peers (including, but not limited to: Sky Ferreira, Chromeo, and at least one member of The Walkmen). The video is extremely high-energy fitting the "car chase" nature of the song perfectly. Check it out below.