Lights- Little Machines
Sep 29, 2014
So, funny thing. Manchester, Tennessee is a long way from Western New York. My 20-year old mentality had me convinced that 12 hours was a little bit of nothing, but let me tell you, it’s no joke.
Luckily, 12 hours is a lot more tolerable when Elton John, Kanye West, Vampire Weekend and more are waiting for you at the finish line. When you think you’ve arrived at Bonnaroo, you haven’t. You turn off the highway, turn again and then turn again until you’re in the middle of a field that looks like it should have hosted a civil war battle.
From there you’re guided into a parking spot, which is soon engulfed by other cars surrounding it. Tents are pitched in about a ten foot space near each vehicle, packed on top of each other, creating a camping-style city block.
We arrived a little later than some, and had a little bit of a wrestling match with our tent, and so had about a 15-minute walk into the festival area. That said, the walk doesn’t seem very long when you’re too busy thinking about what’s to come to even begin to think about your paces.
A cloud of smoke has been hanging over Center Roo ever since we arrived, and it’s hard to tell if it’s coming from stages or, well, you know what else it could come from.
Our first show at Bonnaroo was G.O.O.D. Music’s Pusha T. The amazing thing about Bonnaroo is that even the people at the very back of the show sing along like it’s the last thing they’ll ever do. As Pusha T flew through some of his verses, the crowd nodded along, eyes closed, mouthing the lyrics or pumped their hand violently in the air, shouting along.
Thursday is a more quiet kind of day at Bonnaroo, so we checked out a band we’d never really heard of before called Ty Segall. The four-piece tore through a set of punky garage rock that sounded part Cage the Elephant, part Japandroids. Their lead singer stole the show, doubling on throat-shedding vocals and raw, nimble-fingered guitar solos.
We then proceeded to attend an R. Kelly “Trapped In the Closet” sing along. I’ll just let that sit for a while with you.
All the while, Joe and I raved about how incredible tomorrow’s lineup is. Look out for tomorrow’s posts because it’s going to be maybe the best day of our musical lives, and we can’t wait.
It took awhile to get here. I actually left my house on Wednesday morning at 6:15. My dad dropped me off at 10th and Filbert in Philadelphia. My bus left at 7 for New York City.
Once I arrived in New York City, I waited 40 minutes for my bus that traveled to Buffalo. This bus left New York at 10:30, and didn’t get to Buffalo until 6:15.
I spent the bus ride listening to music, mostly. Once I got to Buffalo a Bonaventure friend pick me up. We grabbed Mighty Taco and played basketball. I know that’s not really relevant, but it’s part of the journey. Anyway, Thursday morning I woke up early, and got a ride to Kirk’s house. Kirk and I began our adventure to Manchester, Tennessee at 10. It was a long trip for a passenger, but I can only imagine how it was for the driver. We spent at least an hour in traffic, and Mother Nature couldn’t make up her damn mind as it rained on and off during the beginning of the trip.
We listened to a number of newer albums, including Kanye West, Vampire Weekend, Haim, Jimmy Eat World, Childish Gambino, Drake, among others.
A road trip is great if three things happen. 1.) Good music 2.) Good company 3.) Good food. We had all of the above during this epic 12-hour plus commute. We stopped at Wendy’s, Starbucks and Ralley’s for food and drinks. Once we got to Manchester, we picked up our wristbands. Kirk got a sweet media pass allowing him access to take photos close to the stage. He didn’t use his camera last night since we didn’t get here until closer to midnight.
Once Kirk parked his car, we had to pitch the tent. I’ve never pitched a tent before, and neither had Kirk. We mistakenly pitched the tent in front of the car instead of pitching it behind the car. Although it took us a little longer than we anticipated, we pitched the damn thing. We drank some beers and headed down to the stages.
The first thing you notice about Bonnaroo is how massive the fields are. So many cars, RVs, vans and busses occupy the abundance of land that Bonnaroo offers. Pusha T was playing his set at The Other Stage, so we hit his show first. His set was jam packed with people raising their hands in the air, while rapping word for word. It was a pretty awesome sight to see. Pusha T played the chorus to Kanye West’s “Runaway”, which Pusha T is featured in, and also happens to be one of my favorite songs. It was a really great start to what looks like could be an unforgettable weekend.
Kirk and I then saw Ty Segall, who we’ve never heard before. Ty Segall had so much energy and passion, which really lifted the crowd’s energy. A mosh pit formed, and a number of fans crowed surfed during that set.
We grabbed some beers and headed over to the R. Kelly “Trapped in the Closet” sing-a-long over at the Bonnaroo Cinema tent. We had to wait in line for at least 30 minutes, but it was well worth our wait as fans sang and danced during R. Kelly’s dramatic episodes.
We headed back to our camp spot around 4 a.m., but since there are so many damn cars here we couldn’t find where we parked. Eventually, we found it closer to 5 a.m. Today promises to be filled with some incredible acts. I’ve waited for Friday the 13th’s lineup since the schedule had been released. I’ll be able to see CHVRCHES, Kanye West, Danny Brown, Sam Smith, Ben Howard, Phoenix, Chance the Rapper, The Head and the Heart and Ice Cube throughout today. It will be an absolutely unreal day, and I look forward to sharing that with you.
The Buzz is road tripping to Tennessee! Thanks to Bonnaroo, we will be covering the annual music festival in Manchester. Over 125 artists, comedians and performers will be at hand during this four-day spectacular. Kirk Windus and I (Joseph Phelan) will write reviews on some of the shows we listen to these next four days. Hopefully we can grab an interview or two with up and coming artists. Before we leave, however, we wanted to give you the acts that WE are looking forward to seeing. Some gigantic music names will be in attendance, including Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, Vampire Weekend and dozens mores. It’s an incredible opportunity, and we are elated to share with you our experiences at one of the best American music festivals.
I’m not really sure what to expect. No amount of reading or video watching will replace actually experiencing Bonnaroo for the first time, so I’m looking forward to seeing the sights, smelling the different foods and listening to the beautiful sounds for the first time. Here are the five musicians I have to see this weekend (in no particular order):
The Buzz likes Ben Howard, a lot. The English singer-songwriter’s album debuted in 2011 with an album titled Every Kingdom, featuring Only Love and The Wolves. He has immensely strong lyrics as a folk artist. His one song, The Fear, is featured on my radio show quite often. My sister’s a huge Howard fan, and introduced me to him back in 2012. Bonnaroo scheduled Ben Howard at Which Stage from 4:30 to 5:30. Howard makes mellow music that gives you peace and solitude. Bonnaroo is filled with diverse musicians, and although Howard won’t wow his audience with energy or power, he does pour his soul into his music, and it’s something I’ve wanted to witness for sometime now.
The Friday lineup is unreal. My day might look like this: Vintage Trouble, Sam Smith, Danny Brown, Ben Howard, The Head and the Heart, CHVRCHES, Phoenix, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Chance the Rapper. Sprinkle in Dr. Dog, Vampire Weekend, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Naked and Famous and Janelle Monae and Friday June 13 might be the best day of my life. This Scottish electronic band has a phenomenal vocalist in Lauren Mayberry. Glassnote Records released their debut studio album The Bones of What You Believe in September 2013. CHVRCHES’s album was my fourth favorite album of 2013 (behind Haim, Kanye West and Kurt Vile), so you better believe that I’m picking to see them over Vampire Weekend who unfortunately plays at the same time.
I emailed Jamestown Revival back in March. I had hoped to book them at St. Bonaventure for a concert. The funds were not there to book a band such as Jamestown Revival. Their debut album, Utah, was released this year. They preformed their single “California” on Conan O’Brien in January. Their Facebook page describes their sound as “indie-rock with a southern slant.” Much of their music is about discovering new adventures, figuring out yourself and what the west has to offer to two Texas friends. I discovered Jamestown Revival in February after their Daytrotter session. They played Golden Age, Time Is Gone, California and Wandering Man. They are an up-and-coming band, so hopefully they become bigger with Bonnaroo exposure. I’ve heard they play loud, engaging shows, so check them out on Saturday at either 4 p.m. or 7 p.m.
I’ve seen Elton John and Billy Joel together once, but I’ve never seen Elton John solo. Bonnaroo saves the best for last with Elton John performing from 9:30 to 11:30 on Sunday night. My birthday is Monday, so technically it will be my birthday for the last half hour of the show, at least on the east coast. Elton John will be fantastic no matter what songs he chooses to play. I have a high level of excitement for Sir Elton John to mesmerize each Rooer. I’m sure he’ll play a bunch of stuff off of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but really it’s just going to be a pleasure listening to one of the best to ever do it.
Music festivals are so cool for a number of reasons. One of them has to do with how many artists gain exposure while playing in front of large crowds. People go to music festivals for big named artists. It’s how Bonnaroo is able to sell tickets. Kanye West and Elton John are the two biggest names in this lineup. Ye played at Bonnaroo in 2008, but it didn’t end well. Basically Kanye West’s show was properly produced because it was still light outside. Kanye West, however, will be on Friday night from 10 to midnight. I anticipate a fantastic Kanye West show, especially given how much criticism he’d receive if it’s anything short of spectacular.
Other artists: Cherub, The Head and the Heart, Lionel Richie, Frank Ocean, Pusha T and Danny Brown
Thursday morning, Joe and I will begin our journey to Bonnaroo. It’s still hard to believe that we’ll be among the 80,000 or so that flock to the acres of Tennessee that for four days become a musical heaven and a sanctuary for fans.
According to google maps, it’s a 12-hour trek from my sleepy little town to Manchester, but I’m sure Joe will find a way to keep me entertained on the long journey.
So what are we most excited for? I’ve been trying to answer that question in my head for a little while now. Well, hanging out with Joe is the obvious answer, but it’s fair to say that Kanye’s at the top of both of our lists. We’ve both been doing our fair share of fan-girling over Kanye lately.
Joe’s lucky enough to have already seen Elton John, but I haven’t and I can’t wait to watch him light up ‘Roo from behind the grand piano.
Headliners aside, I can’t wait to see The Head and the Heart. Both of their albums have been brilliant, and the future’s awfully bright for the band. Cage the Elephant are kind of festival legends, and they always bring an amazing energy to the stage. You never know what will happen when those guys take the stage, and I can’t wait to see them.
Probably second on my list, behind Kanye, would be Chance the Rapper. Acid Rap is one of my favorite albums from the entire year, and I think Chance does absolutely amazing things. He’s bound to rule at Bonnaroo.
I also can’t wait to see Vampire Weekend, The Naked and Famous, Disclosure and Sam Smith. City and Colour are absolutely incredible from the old, Dallas-Green-and-an-acoustic songs to the new, full-band tracks, so I can’t wait to see them. I’ll also definitely be checking out Kevin Devine again. He may not be the biggest name on the lineup, but I saw him this winter and he blew me away. I think he’s probably the most underrated songwriter of our generation, and he’s an amazing guy, so definitely check him out.
Keep your eyes peeled for more from Joe and I. We’ll be writing and posting as much as we can from the festival.
Our co-music director, Kirk Windus, sat down with Kevin Devine to talk about his latest albums, the music industry and politics.
As far as these last two records, [Bubblegum and Bulldozer] are you a little more proud of them just because you did so much work by yourself?
I think I’m differently proud. I don’t know if I’m more proud, but I think that in the last 4 records, from the Brother’s Blood record in 2009, I feel like there was a reset button that got hit on that record after the whole Capitol Records thing happened that was like, “Now I’m going to really just do exactly what I want,” and I think before I was maybe the same way, for better or for worse. Even with the label system I was still doing whatever I wanted. But I just wasn’t entirely sure yet what I wanted to do musically. I mean I knew how to write songs, but I didn’t always know how to present them in their best form. Sometime around Brother’s Blood there was a break from the whole folk-rock thing, so exploring different corners of presentation where things were a lot more expansive and heavy in places and still being pretty in places but stretching out the definition of what that meant.
And I think with these last two records, to me, aesthetically, they’re both really fine encapsulations of the progress that’s been made on a musical front. With the Bubblegum thing, I think we’ve had patches of songs that sounded that way. Like a song here, three songs here, but we haven’t had 40 minutes of songs that sounded that aggressive. It’s not like a metal record, but, for me, it’s the most punk rock music we’ve ever made for a full record. And I think with the Bulldozer thing, if I’d have made that record 10 years ago it would have been much more there. I mean those songs are all acoustic rock songs that got pulled apart and made into something more spacious and dynamic. So, musically I mean I’m proud of them because I don’t think I could have made them the way that they were made if I was making them 10 years ago. But obviously there’s a story in how it got there and got literally made and I’m hugely proud of that. I don’t know if I’m more proud of it, but there’s a more clear line of ownership because there’s no one in the middle. You always feel proud when you’re making it, but then other promotional entities get involved, and that’s their job. That’s what you’re asking them to do. But you can start to get a little alienated from your own thing based on what they’re doing or not doing. So it’s kind of nice not having that with these records. I can say that things went a lot smoother this time around than the last time, which is not necessarily what you expect when you’re like, “I’m just basically going to do it all by myself, meaning like myself, six other people and the entire world are going to do this thing.” So the prize is maybe the same, but the clarity of thought and the level of difficulty and the actual execution, even though we had a lot more to do, it was easier to do it.
It seems like you’ve been able to do all of the same things you’d do with label support, as far as booking pretty big tours, making music videos and promoting the records, without a label. Are you finding it’s really possible to do that in today’s music world or do you think that labels really still have a place?
I think that both are true. I think I would definitely never swear off having a record label. But there’s about ten of them that I would consider, [laughs] and they’re not knocking on my door. But I mean there are really good labels that do really well by artists and have realistic goals and work really hard. And then there are labels that aren’t bad people, and they’re doing their job. It’s just that their job is changing so dramatically every 18 months or 12 months. Sometimes they’re like literally losing their jobs. But in other senses, just the dynamics of the business are changing so much that they’re not sure how to stay on top of it. And I think when you’re someone who’s in my position, like I’m not attached to any sort of trend stylistically or musically. I just kind of write songs. Sometimes they’re loud. Sometimes they’re quiet. Sometimes they’re something else. But they’re not directly pop punk or emo. They’re not folk or whatever you could peg them to market them. They’re somewhere in the middle of all of those things, and I think that makes their job hard. I think right now is not the time for somebody in the music industry’s job to be hard. What sells is what’s easy. There used to be more room for that, and there’s less of it now just because people buy less music.
So I think that this experiment has proved to me that someone of my size can hold firm without a label’s help and even grow a little bit. I mean this is going to sound a little weird, but I’m bigger now than I was two years ago. I’m not exponentially bigger. I’m not like selling out 2,000 seat theaters when I was only selling 200 tickets before, but more people know it than they did two years ago. You know? And that’s happened through making that Bad Books record and then doing what we always do every record, just without a label. So, to me, that proves you can do it. But we also had an influx of $10,000 from our audience to do it. That being said, in music industry terms, that’s not a whole lot of money to pull off a two year project with two albums and tour them, make videos, go to radio, handle press and do all of that, even on a small level. $10,000 to do all of that and make the records, I’ll tell you it goes much faster than most people would think.
You’re obviously quite familiar with Jesse Lacey and you’ve worked with him before. Did it make it easier or harder to work with a good friend as a producer and what did he bring the table as a producer?
I thought he was super professional. He was prompt, punctual and present. Jesse’s a lot of things. He’s a friend of 15 years, so my relationship to him and my thoughts about him are a little different than his fans’ are. I love him for different reasons than his fans do, [laughs] which is good. But he’s not exactly known as being the most prompt and punctual dude, so that was refreshing. And that was really the only concern I had. Jesse’s talents speak for themselves. His enthusiasm for my songs and for my band speak for itself. Our friendship, I knew, wasn’t in any danger. We’re the type of people that I knew if we were a week in and it wasn’t working we’d be like, “This isn’t working. Let’s not do this.” But it did work, and to my ears and to my taste it worked remarkably well.
The one thing that I will say is that Jesse did Bubblegum and Rob Schnapf did Bulldozer. He worked with us on Put Your Ghost To Rest and mixed the Bad Books album. And he did a bunch of Elliot Smith, Beck and The Vines, Guided By Voices. I mean Rob is a monster.
But it wasn’t like I brought Jesse a lot of folk songs and then he turned it into Bubblegum. Like we had, [Mike] Fadem (drums), [Mike] Strandberg (guitar) and I, even over the tour for Between the Concrete and Clouds, those songs had gotten nastier live. And the more we opened for these loud bands, like Say Anything or Thrice or Brand New, those songs just got kind of uglier, in a good way, and dirtier, and I got more confident. I used to be in a band that was like a super fast, loud, Replacements-ish kind of pop-punk band called Miracle of ’86. And growing up, the things that made me play music were things like Nirvana. So that’s always been in there, and we’ve had parts of it, but then I got way into the great songwriters like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Elliot Smith, Sinead O’Connor and Hank Williams, and then I got into Cat Power and stuff that was more subdued. And so I made a bunch of records that were like that. But I’ve been getting back into the louder thing, so I thought I wanted to make one record that was like a punk record and one that was like a folk record. Jesse had wanted to make one of our records with me for years, so it was like, “Well, there’s no label. We’re doing whatever we want. So why don’t you make this one?” So in other words, it was the perfect meeting of the right time for our band and the right guy to do it because he obviously knows his way around loud rock music and also knows his way around songwriting and knows his way around melody and knows his way around layering a studio.
And a big asterisk that needs to be attached to Bubblegum, too, is that Jesse was the producer in a very old school, Phil Spector kind of way. Not in that he had a gun to us in the studio or anything like that, but he would recommend sounds, and he was very idea oriented, very song oriented. But he wasn’t like placing mics or handling the technical side of things. That was a guy named Claudius Mittdenorfer who’s a friend of all of ours. The reason that the record sounds as good as it does is Claudius, too. He’s just not like a famous singer from a famous rock band, so people won’t talk about him as much, but he’s as much the reason that record sounds the way it does as anyone else is. So it’s worth noting that.
What was it like putting out two records at one time? Most people put so much many and everything into just one. Did you worry that that they’d be unbalanced or one would have a better reception than the other?
No, I mean, I knew that, at least in the immediate, that Bubblegum would get a better reception just because it’s a bigger sound and because there’s the Jesse association. And I thought just between the two records there would be more initial excitement about that. And I really understood that, and I had to kind of let go early on because I really loved Bulldozer too. I had to be patient. I knew Bulldozer would find its audience too, and I actually think that it helps Bulldozer that we focused on Bubblegum first and it got such a warm reception because we just released the “Little Bulldozer” video and people love it, and there’s a Bulldozer tour in the fall, so I think that it will be helped by all the focus that Bubblegum got.
Yeah, I hear exactly what you mean. It’s really beautiful and it’s a great record. It’s just very different.
Well, and I think that I like things that hit you in the head, and I like subtler things too. The interesting thing is that they’re [the records] not that far apart in terms of sales. They’re pretty neck and neck. Bubblegum sold more, but not like thousands of copies more. I think that they’re within a thousand copies of one another. And that’s cool to me. Even on tour you can see at the merch table every night, it’s like 55-45 or something like that, and I think that’s cool too. I think there’s a balance there.
What has the reception been like now that you’ve been able to hit the road with the Goddamn Band?
This tour’s specifically been outstanding. And I know it’s a little unusual, considering I have a relationship with Manchester Orchestra. So people coming to the shows have at least heard of me a lot of times. But there are also a lot of them that have heard of me, but never actually heard what I do. They’ve heard Bad Books, you know? Or they’ve heard a song here or there. What I’m seeing on tour is that there are a lot people that had preconceived ideas about what my “thing” was, and then they come see it and basically it’s like, “Oh, I didn’t know you could play like that.” I think people—well—I don’t know what they expect. I don’t know if they expect something like Jason Mraz, like a signer/songwriter thing, or if they expect to see me up there with an acoustic guitar, emoting. And that’s part of “the thing,”— well, not the Jason Mraz thing, that’s not part of the thing— [laughs] but the presentation. Yeah, I really like getting up and playing a song on the acoustic guitar. I always will. I think there’s something very direct about it.
But I also really love getting up, stepping on a peddle and jumping around, making noise and having a drummer beat the heck out of the drums. I really like that too. I think that, to me, we’re making an impression on people who are vaguely aware, but are now kind of joining the fold. And a big part of that is the band. I mean, Ben Hamola from Bad Books is playing drums and he did the Bubblegum tour in the fall too. Mike Strandberg used to work with me for like eight years, playing guitar and singing harmonies, and he also worked on Bubblegum with me. He’s a sort of wizard electric guitar guy who can sort of do anything he wants. And we’re having Andy Prince, who plays bass in Bad Books and Manchester Orchestra, play with us now. Whenever Manchester’s not on tour he’s the go-to guy for me. I sent him 12 songs to learn, since we’re only doing 35 minutes a night, and he showed up to the first rehearsal in Brooklyn and we played through them once and I was like, “Oh, this will be fine.” Like he knew it and not only played the songs, but played them confidently and took risks and moved around. So, for me, I’m like never even thinking about what they’re doing on stage, and that’s like the best possible situation.
Have you been playing any Bad Books songs with Andy since you’re on tour together?
Yeah, we’ve been doing “42,” and I think we did “You’re a Mirror I can not Avoid” one night also. But that’s about all we’ve done so far.
It’s just got to be a lot of fun to collaborate and put those songs in rotation once in a while.
Absolutely! And I mean, since it’s their tour I’m not going to push it. If they want to do stuff for Bad Books I’m happy to. But I’m mindful that there’s a church and state element to it. And it’s a Manchester tour and a Kevin tour, so we’re focusing on Manchester stuff and my stuff, and we both have a lot of new music we just put out, so there’s no shortage of stuff to play.
When you’re writing an album for the entire band, do the songs still start out on just the acoustic usually?
Yeah, they do. I mean there’s a lot of different ways you can play an acoustic guitar. Songs like “Fiscal Cliff” on Bubblegum, that song was written on a nylon string classical guitar. Immediately it became obvious that song was a punk rock song. I mean, you can play a punk rock song on an acoustic guitar and you can play really beautiful, spindly sounding folk music on an electric guitar. You can do a lot with those instruments. But I usually write the structure, the guts of it, on acoustic. But I wrote some of the songs on Bass. I wrote “I Can’t Believe You” and “Sick of Words” on bass guitar and built from there. Maybe “Little Bulldozer,” like the initial riff, was written on an electric. I think I wrote it in our rehearsal space where I have drums and bass, whereas in my apartment I just have my acoustic around usually. So yeah, most of the time it just starts that way and then I hear, “Yeah, this is where the drums could be.” And sometimes that changes and sometimes that ends up being pretty close to the way you imagined it.
Yeah, it was just kind of cool to see the evolution of the songs, like “Private First Class” in a basic state compared to how it sounds on Bubblegum.
Yeah, and I think the challenge is, and I like doing this, is if you can get up with an acoustic and make those Bubblegum songs be still compelling. I think that’s the biggest stretch musically in my career is the acoustic foundation and what they became. So yeah, I think it’s really neat to try to make a gentle, beautiful version of “Bubblegum.” And “Private First Class” becomes more of like a Pete Seeger song or something like a Woody Guhtrie song. It’s a protest song when you play it that way. It’s folk rock. And I have no real problem with that. Folk and punk rock aren’t that far apart in terms of what forms them, the spirit. It’s just about how they get dressed up.
I remember in Buffalo when you said that you’d been meaning to retire “No Time Flat” but a lot of the song was still relevant. What do you think about that song is still true?
Well, I think we’re literally still involved in both of those entanglements [the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan]. Whether we’ve pulled troops or not, there’s an aspect of that which becomes cosmetic. And also, it’s kind of like if you walked into a room in a neighbor’s house and broke everything in the room and sat there and didn’t let your neighbor in for ten years. Then one day you got up and said, “Alright, I’m out” but didn’t fix anything in the room that you broke. I mean that’s kind of what we did. You know it’s funny that I’m talking to you in the lobby of a hotel and there’s big flagpole with an American flag and a proud eagle on top, while I say all of this [laughs]. But anyways, it’s not clean and resolved. And I still feel the same way I felt, and the thing that’s maybe more true about that song now is the embarrassing lack of real debate and dialogue between what passes as the two polls in American political conversation. I think that’s actually gotten simultaneously more absurd and less substantive in the last ten years. The whole Democrat and Republican thing is so Goddamn embarrassing. That, to me, is the stuff in that song that feels relevant. There may be specific references in that song that are a little dated, but it still feels like it could be written now with some things moved around.
And that’s why I’d change the thing about the drones in Pakistan and the “change we can believe in” because it wasn’t just a Bush/Cheney thing. It’s an American axis power thing; it’s what we do. And we do it whether we have a super gun-slinging, maybe less outwardly intellectual right-wing president or if we have a really considerate and thoughtful, world-class orator, quote unquote leftish president. They want the same thing, which is us being the premiere power in the world. Despite the stuff the two sides argue about domestically, when it comes to our international, foreign policy, particularly our expansion, they’re not even different. Not to be like a conspiracy theorist, and I mean I actually don’t think it’s that crazy, but I think that’s why so much emphasis is put on the domestic stuff like gay marriage, healthcare and tax issues is that it distracts us from what’s really going on over there, which is basically always going places and being like, “Well, that’ll be ours now.” You know? Which is a very oversimplified version of what really goes on.
Yeah, I think the line that sticks with me from that song is “you take abortion away and both sides are just the same.” I think it’s a really smart political commentary, and I definitely think that part is really true today.
Yeah, I mean you could move it to a few other things now. But that’s definitely one of them. I mean, every four years they try to overturn that. And I’m glad that hasn’t happened. And I don’t mean to minimize it. Reproductive health is a huge thing, especially if you’re a woman [laughs]. It’s important to have agency over your body. But there’s a lot of other hugely important things, and I think on those issues the sides are really quite similar.
What’s coming up for Kevin Devine? What should the people look for in the coming year?
Well, we’re going to do three more weeks of this Manchester tour, and that comes through your part of the world in about a week. And then after that I do Bonnaroo June 14th. I do a couple shows around Bonnaroo, which will be fun. Then Bad Books has a show at a festival in Texas the 21st of June. Then from like July 4th to 8th I’m doing some shows in the Mid-west with Brand New and festivals. And then a couple more shows in Northeast in the middle of July. Then I go overseas for a few weeks of acoustic stuff. Then I’ll be home until the end of September or beginning of October. Then there’s something coming up that I can’t announce yet and something else that I can’t announce yet either [laughs]. But we’ll be busy and in the Fall Bulldozer will get its fair shake.
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RIYL: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Dinosaur Jr.
Track 2- Matamoros
Track 5- Lost in the Woods
Track 4- Algiers
The album art to The Afghan Whigs’ Do to the Beast may not be the most warm or welcoming, depicting a weird animalistic, sexual scene. But don’t be swayed by it because the album is a rare, dark but gorgeous rock record.
The record really kicks off at the second track, “Matamoros,” which contains industrial sounding verses, (say NIN) which emerge into an eerie, minor keyed, almost-whispered chorus, on which lead singer Greg Dulli croons “I’m over you/ I’ll tell you why/ your kiss is poison.”
The Afghan Whigs have been together since the mid ‘80s, so they don’t need to prove their maturity. But if they did, this record would do it. Songs like “It Kills” and “Algiers” are dark and intense, but also subtle and restrained. The instrumentation on the tracks is limited, using mostly piano and acoustic guitar, but the sound is still full and the band sounds just as intense as on the album’s heavier tracks.
The Whigs may be constantly compared to bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but to call Do to the Beast a grunge record would be a total misnomer. Beautifully dark minor-key piano lines litter the album and the occasional huge major-key chorus (“Lost in the Woods”) keeps this album in pure rock territory.
It’s impossible to say enough good things about The Afghan Whigs. But the one thing that’s really worth mentioning is quite profound. The band that have spent much of their career in the shadows of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and The Melvins have quietly aged better than Pearl Jam could ever hope to.
It’s a shame that the band don’t get more recognition, but the sublime work that is Do to the Beast may just be a good step towards emerging from that shadow.
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Bears and Motorcycles- Bears & Motorcyles
RIYL: Gary Clark Jr., The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age
Track 1- No More Love
Track 2- Key Around My Neck
Track 6- Move A Little Faster
The songs may be simple and can be compared to any alternative band like All American Rejects, Kings of Leon, Fall Out Boy, or Panic At the Disco, but they are catchy as hell.
This band is definitely worthy of being considered mainstream alternative, which is n
Being a guitar lover, I can see that they know their way around one by their display of different sounds and effects.ot always a bad thing. There are definitely people, along with me, who can appreciate Bears and Motorcycles. Their music differs from other alternative acts buy using simple elements like adding a power organ feel or soulful, repetitious riffs throughout many of their songs.
When it comes to music, I can be very picky and the fact that I've downloaded their album onto my phone shows how good I think the value of their music is. Definitely a good listen.
Track 1 – The Man
Track 2 – Love Is the Answer
Track 3 – Wake Me Up (Acoustic)
Track 9 – Red Velvet Seat
Aloe Blacc is bringing music back to where it used to be in the world of Hip-Hop and R&B. As one of the few artists who has great potential in this generation of music, Blacc brings power and meaning to his music. After his album Good Things, Blacc's major-label debut tries to change a vintage sound to a set of hooky soul-pop tunes layered with folk-tinged acoustic elements, which I believe became a success.
On “The Man”, Blacc blends pop, hip hop, and R&B. The words of "The Man" proclaim that the singer has been through a number of obstacles, but he is standing strong and will be. The words are supported with sound and power, without drowning in conceit.
“Wake Me Up (Acoustic)” is Blacc’s stripped-down and intimate version of the radio hit he collaboratedon with Avicii. This song is also a way for Blacc to find his sweet spot between country music and R&B. Blacc demonstrates his increasing talent by holding powerful notes with ease. He does the same with his other songs on the album such as the blues-meets-hip-hop sound on “The Hand Is Quicker,” and the R&B slow jam “Red Velvet Seat.”
RIYL: Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Michael Hurley
Recommended Tracks: All
In a world where college radio submissions come with lots of “please listen to me,” “please love me” promotional materials, LQ Bucket’s The Long Loneliness comes with one quote: “Some say LQ’s like Townes Van Zandt after reading too much Flannery O’Connor…” This quote just happens to be one of the few rare, accurate promotion lines you’ll see.
The Long Loneliness is a bit of a misnomer, as it clocks in at a mere 11 minutes, but it’s 11 minutes of loneliness that you’re going to want to endure. LQ Bucket is where the story-telling brilliance of Townes Van Zandt and the talky, classic folk sensibility of Bob Dylan intersect. Amidst an eerie, buzzing background noise that conjures the feeling of listening to an old record, LQ eases through subtle but deeply emotional stories set to music.
As for the Flannery O’Connor statement, if a Faulkner southern gothic novel was set to music it sound exactly like The Long Loneliness— both haunting and strikingly beautiful. Lyrics like “I had scarlet fever when I was eight/ saw those visions both large and small/ but that was fever talking/ that’s all,” are delivered with a yearning, talky croon that seems to tell stories without any words.
LQ Bucket isn’t just another folk singer. His lyrical styles and guitar playing may not be anything out of the ordinary, but the creativity and delivery of those elements is unusual today. “They Were Orphans Without You” is a brilliant take on an old tale, finding a lonely man crying into the distance where his love lies, telling her that all of his dreams and fantasies are just orphans without her.
When so many releases today are over produced and over refined, LQ Bucket doesn’t clean up undesirable guitar tones or melodic lines. The result is a record that is raw but refined, devastating but beautiful.
Finding LQ online is a little like playing a game of Where’s Waldo, but you don’t want to miss out on The Long Loneliness.