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Artist of the Month
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November 2013
Wooden Shjips
"Back to Land
"
mp3

Hailing from San Francisco, psychedelic group Wooden Shjips, has just released their newest album Back to Land. The album brings together a sound crafted from inspirations that range from psychedelic music to classic rock.

The album is an entire trip in itself.  One can hear hints of 80s music, classic rock, and modern garage rock styles in the record, but they always resolve back to their classic psychedelic sound. With tracks like “In The Roses,” which brings a very spacey, low volume vocals, and a lo-fi sound that is not too cheesy or under produced. to “Ghouls,” which is a much faster, much more psychedelic rock sounding song that takes influences from classic rock guitar chords, while still utilizing classic psychedelic synthesizers.

Most songs on the album carry a jam-band sound, without becoming too abstract or getting too carried away. And in some cases, the music is so vast in genre diversity, one is surprised at the resulting sound, such as in the track, “These Shadows”, which starts off with an extremely catchy intro guitar riff and carries a vague David Bowie meets Velvet Underground sound.

“Back to Land” is a great piece of work that utilizes the potential of each member of Wooden Shjips effectively and thoroughly.

Most importantly, “Back to Land” is an experimentation of how far the psychedelic genre can stretch while still successfully staying true to its roots.


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Stream: FLORALS "Others"

Electronic acts with a fondness for dreamy, ethereal soundscapes are a dime a dozen these days. So it's refreshing to hear a trio like FLORALS inverting the expectation of such sounds with their own spin - their debut track "Others" incorporates a stark, downtempo beat set against the oddly bewitching vocals of singer Stephanie Marie Rick. There are layers upon layers to unfold in the track's eerily spectral atmosphere, which opts to maintain a calm detachment instead of placing a reliance on a facile form of beauty.

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Conway reinvents herself on "Hustler"

Conway is a force to be reckoned with this year (from being named "Artist of the Month" in our site to Rolling Stone’s Top 10 artists to Watch, Carson Daly, Life + Times, NYLON and so forth) catching everyone’s attention with no signs of stopping anytime soon. Her newest single, "Hustler," was directed by Zach Gold, who has shot videos for artists like 50 Cent, David Bowie and Drake. First off, this video is incredibly visualizing and embarks on a journey of a "hustler" - an aggressively enterprising person; a go getter. I decided to personally dissect this video into what I could make of it; Conway is a hustler herself. Cunning and smart, she personally edited and directed her video, "Big Talk", which now has over 400,00 views on You Tube.

In "Hustler", she takes on a few different personas and personalities on how to survive and achieve things in life. One was herself, the average girl who hustles her way through life being who she was born to be. The following shots include her sporting a suit with a type of nylon over her face acting as a mask, the next she's smeared with black makeup all over her face to show the darker side of life, and then she's dressed in Victorian-styled, white clothing like a queen. The queen, and the Egyptian style clothes she wears are symbols of power, a clear example of a hustler or someone who defines power. Feminism can be seen throughout this video as well - like I had said before, the queen will always hold power over most, along with the Egyptians, as they were the civilization that represented strength and influenced an entire global development. A softer side is also shown - she is holding a bunny stroking its fur and holding it close for safety and comfort. One thing to notice and pay close attention to is that while she is holding a bunny, she is dressed like the White Rabbit from the movie Alice in Wonderland. The White Rabbit is a stigma for youth: timid, feeling feeble or simply running out of time.

Taking an even closer look into the dynamics of the video, it’s like an acid trip scene from the film itself, and Conway is the main character. She embodies many characters from the film: she is the queen, the rabbit, Alice, the Cheshire Cat (from when she is in the classroom and hallways with a big black smile painted across her face), the mad hatter and the card soldiers. Take a look at the character list of the movie and compare it to the music video; they almost connect perfectly. If that is the case and I made the connection correctly, then that is one hell of a music video concept I tip my hat to Zach Gold.

Conway is a truly exceptional, charismatic, immense and impressive artist. Her newest EP, Big Talk, is currently streaming on her soundcloud page. Her tour with Ellie Goulding started March 12th at Madison Square Garden, and will end on the 25th of this month. Follow her, listen to her and become a fan, because she will only get more iconic from here. - Kayla Hay

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Artist to Watch: Rachel Goodrich

Despite the dreamy air and lilting phrases, Rachel Goodrich's "Baby, Now We're Even" is textured with melancholia. Hers is music set to that scene on the beach, just as the sun sets and the tourists dissipate; alone with the sand sticking to your heels and cascades of pink and orange hanging low over the tide. Vintage vibes and lo-fi hiss are the vehicle for her beautifully heart-wrenching songwriting. It's delicate pop executed with a nostalgic backwards glance. The 50's style girl-group backing vocals are the icing on the cake to this blissfully charming tune. A full length is expected out on April Fool's Day. Catch her live playing with her all-female trio, Rachel Goodrich & The GRRLS at Pehrspace on March 22.  - Jacqueline Caruso


Stream: Criminal Hygiene, "Withdrawn"

Here's a new one from rowdy garage rockers, Criminal Hygiene. We last caught up with them in an interview feature after the release of their debut self-titled LP. Since then, they've had a shift in personnel, without losing their signature sound. This new tune, "Withdrawn," sticks to the "riff-raff wrapped in a pop tune" formula, but strays from their debut's lo-fi, one take, beer slamming edge. The bridge is actually quite reminscent of early skuffle-era Beatles, while the chorus is solidly rooted in their Replacements influence. Still, their punk-ly concise execution rings true and there's an undeniable charm in everything they do. Stream "Withdrawn" below, and check out their March tour dates with The Orwells and Twin Peaks. - Jacqueline Caruso

Mar 20 2014 - The Observatory - Santa Ana, CA
Mar 21 2014 - Che Cafe - San Diego, CA
Mar 22 2014 - Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA
Mar 23 2014 - Slim's - San Francisco, CA
Mar 25 2014 - Neumos - Seattle, WA
Mar 26 2014 - Star Theater - Portland, OR

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Video: Facts on File "Bring It Back"

Brainy new wave-informed trio Facts on File have just released a promotional cut for the track "Bring it Down", a performance-based video that features the band members in different billboards around the city animated in live-action form. The track can be found on the band's latest full-length Bring it Back, which the band will be celebrating with an official release show at El Cid on March 26. 

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Kimono Kult releases mind-bending debut EP

Kimono Kult is a completely new band, shaping the industry into something no one, not even producers were ready for. A blast of experienced musicians came together to create an statement that is, creatively, all in Spanish. A sextet group featuring Nicole Turley, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist, John Frusciante, ex-Mars Volta and At The Drive-In guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, singer Teri Gender Bender from Le Butcherettes and Bosnian Rainbows, instrumentals from Dante White of Dante Vs. Zombies and Laena Geronimo from Raw Geronimo, this incredibly talented group of musicians got together to debut a four track EP called Hiding in the LightNow I do not speak Spanish, nor have I ever taken a class; my knowledge doesn’t pass knowing how to count to 10, but you can still feel and hear a story coming from the instruments and the tone streaming through Bender’s voice. The Spanish language acts with no rules, executed fluently with its instruments creating a mind-bending experience that even I had a hard time grasping. But that is the point of music - the musician creates the sound for themselves and the listeners choose to create their own story to match it, connecting on different levels. I took this album as a type of philosophy, existentialism, to be exact- ‘stressing the individual's unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his/her choices.’ Everyone’s mindset is different and this EP has its crazy, loud and progressively beautiful sounds that make it so jarring without an unsatisfying noise. These hauntingly engaging artists truly test the limits of music, which no one has dared explore before. - Kayla Hay

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Gardens & Villa Play the El Rey March 8

Santa Barbara natives and Secretly Canadian signees, Gardens & Villa are riding high on the release of their sophomore album, Dunes. The band brought their dreamy, seaside affinities to a studio in the frozen tundra of Michigan to record with producer, Tim Goldsworthy (Cut Copy, LCD Soundsystem). The results stayed true to the dreamy pop we've come to know from the group, but with more depth and maturity. Where their self-titled debut was youthful, like dipping your toes in the sand as waves crash on the shore - Dunes explores the deep recesses of the open ocean; an uncharted, mysterious and more solitary place to dwell. Currently on tour, Gardens & Villa are coming through LA to play the El Rey tomorrow, March 8 with Jonathan Rado (of Foxygen), and Waterstrider. Peep the video for their second single, "Colony Glen," below, filled with hypnotic beats and moody lighting. - Jacqueline Caruso




Austin 2014 issue (SXSW)
Read it here

 


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