We’ve been away for a while lost in the dreamland of the real world. Apologies.
As I’ve been skating through life, one track that’s come across my radar has been a little offering from London’s Still Corners. Set to debut sophomore LP Strange Pleasures, the Sub Pop-signed project of Greg Hughes feeds off of 1980’s synth pop influences to produce gems like “Berlin Lovers.” With a video set to a retro roller rink, the teaser to the group’s second album is Grimes’ lovechild with Victoria Legrand, pumping a heavy synth over the wafting vocals of singer Tessa Murray. It’s dreamy–enough to take you away from the dullness of daily routine.
Ed. note: Friend of Treeswingers Jonathan Hall gives us a first-person account of what it’s like to get caught up in a haze of pandas, teeny boppers and Starfucker.
It’s the loaded Friday night of Noise Pop and I am going to a Starfucker show for the first time. Words and phrases like “insane,” “cross-dressed” and “floor-bouncing” buzz in my ear.
I arrive early and do my best to blend in with the adolescent crowd leftover from Blackbird Blackbird. Eventually I settle in, upfront and early, only to realize I’m the only one in the front row old enough to drink the whiskey and ice that’s in my hand. As I down my plastic cup of booze and wait for the teenage dance carnage to begin, a brief flashlight guides the four lanky members of a group now known as the more radio-friendly STRFKR into position.
Tw0-and-a-half years ago when we first caught a whiff of Magic Man, the band was just a pair of college kids from starched-collar Northeastern universities jamming from their Macbooks. Today, the duo, formerly just elementary school buds Alex Caplow and Sam Lee, has grown to a quintet, fleshing out their sound and direction without losing any of the charm that made us fall in love with self-released debut, Real Life Color.
Magic Man as we know it now has relocated to (the musical mecca of?) Providence, Rhode Island and released new track “Paris” last week. When we last caught up, Caplow and Lee told us their debut LP was influenced by a trip to France. This time around, it looks like the pair are drawing from the same inspirations. Turning the City of Light into a metaphorical lover on “Paris”, Caplow develops an infectious hook that’s supplemented by synth blasts and a faded, but perfectly worked piano melody. Improving on production and recording quality since their last outing, Magic Man loses a bit of that novel DIY-quality felt on Real Life Color. But that’s not to say “Paris” is anything less genuine than older tracks like “Monster” and “Darling.” The energy and verve are still there, and keeping that in spite of change is a beautiful thing.
On a night when San Franciscans peer at Amazonian tree frogs and uninterested caimans behind thick-paned glass with unironic PBR’s in hand, Jason Chung became the most scrutinized exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. Better known as Nosaj Thing, the Los Angeles beatmaster was the main attraction at the weekly Thursday menagerie, Nightlife, ringing in the event’s 21st birthday and the 2013 Noise Pop Festival.
If anything, it was a venue of low expectations. Thursday nights at the California Academy of Sciences are a time to sip an overpriced IPA after work, rub some sea cucumbers and maybe vibe to the musical act before the strict 10 PM close. Your night’s not going to be a bender. It’s certainly not Mighty or, for something more familiar to Chung, LA’s Low End Theory, where he refined his shadow-fed sounds in the witching hours of early Thursday mornings. Which is why Thursday’s Nightlife show was so odd. Removed from his familiar darkness and thrown into an 8:45 set between the Rainforest biodome and planetarium, Nosaj Thing was out of his element and he showed it.
We’re late on this one, but are there any singers right now more moving than Sampha and Jessie Ware? Two years since collaborating on this gem, “Valentine,” the two have gone on to become brilliant artists in their own right, the former as the man pulling the vocal strings behind SBTRKT’s post-dubstep goodness, and the latter shaping up as indie’s next diva-to-be.
On Valentine’s Day 2011, the pair released a heart-shaped vinyl for “Valentine” via Young Turks that’s still burning to this day. Clocking in at just over two minutes, the short song is nonetheless packed with the passion and tenderness that should fill every Feb. 14.
Wildcat! Wildcat! are slowly adding to their arsenal. With only a single 7″, The Chief, to their name, the LA-based trio have been quick to test and release new material before they arrive at the promise-band promise land that is SXSW. “Please And Thank You” comes just in time. A compliment to their highly energetic releases “Mr. Quiche” and “The Chief,” their latest song is subdued, though without sacrificing their signature falsetto duets. Sparked by pipe organ samples, “Please And Thank You” feeds off a church-going vibe, building toward soaring chorus that’s supplemented by rim taps and vibraphone. Powerful, it shows that Wildcat! Wildcat! is by no means a one-trick pony, or cat. Whatever.
Wildcat! Wildcat!- Please And Thank You (download)
Every so often, Popscene and its patron saint Aaron Axelsen manage to snag a diva in the making. In past years we’ve seen everyone from Amy Winehouse to Florence Welch grace the small stage on their way to superstardom. After last night’s show, Jessie Ware looked no different.
There’s a certain presence exhibited by Popscene’s queens-to-be. The small stage area from that of 330 Ritch to Rickshaw Stop has a way of magnifying the smiles, the stage banter and the evident vocal power of talents like Ware, who crushed a sold-out venue with cuteness and charisma on Thursday. It’s safe to say that if Ware follows her projected career trajectory, she will never play a stage like Popscene’s ever again in what is likely to be a long and popular career.