Featured Shows of the Week! September 17
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.” The same holds true for fellow sons of the Prairie State, Maps & Atlases, who, despite a flurry of activity since their inception in 2006 are only now releasing their full-length debut. But it’s been worth the wait: Not only is Perch Patchwork the Chicago quartet’s first long player, it’s also their first masterpiece —a beautiful suite of songs that should rightly place the band in indie rock’s upper echelon. Where the band’s previous EPs (2006’s Tree, Swallows, Houses and 2008’s You and Me and the Mountain) employed an arid, live sound, Perch Patchwork is a decidedly more humid affair.
Benjamin John Howard (born 24 April 1987) is an English singer-songwriter, born in West London. He moved to Totnes, Devon when he was 8 and is currently signed to Island Records. Howard was raised by musical parents who exposed him to several of their favourite records from singer-songwriter artists from the 1960s and 1970s including Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, by whom he was strongly influenced.
Deleted Scenes, a four-piece indie band from DC, released its first self-entitled EP in 2007, twelve years after meeting in grade school. In 2009, the band released a full-length, Birdseed Shirt, which was recorded mostly in group houses across the east coast over the course of a year with producer L. Skell (the Rude Staircase). It was met with critical acclaim from Pitchfork, which praised its “thoughtful existentialism and strange, drowsy downers” (8.0 score), and NPR, which called it “playfully unpredictable and totally infectious.”
Grizzly Bear are an indie act from New York whose music is a mixture of four-part harmony, folkie guitars, and slight electronic flourishes; a beautifully-composed sonic stew captured on computer but sounding timeless. Chris Taylor —the live keyboardist/vocalist who serves as the band’s producer/arranger on recordings— calls such sound “creating landscapes.”
METRIC is Emily Haines, Jimmy Shaw, Joshua Winstead and Joules Scott Key. An independent rock and roll band empowered by their innovative approach to the music business, METRIC self-released their last album FANTASIES on five continents without the benefit of a label and earned themselves multiple radio hits around the world with songssuch as “Gimme Sympathy,” “Gold Guns Girls,” and “Help I’m Alive.” They went on to sell over a million singles and 500,000 albums worldwide.
FANTASIES earned METRIC “Album of the Year” and “Band of the Year” at the Canadian Juno Awards, and the band finished 2010 with their music featured in two major Hollywood films including Scott Pilgrim vs The World and the Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The Twilight soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy Award and landed METRIC on the Academy Award nomination short list in 2011 for the theme song they co-wrote with composer Howard Shore. They have since partnered up with Howard Shore on another project: The score to David Cronenberg’s latest film Cosmopolis, composed by Shore and performed by METRIC, due out this year.
Their fifth full-length studio album SYNTHETICA will be released on June 12, 2012. Sonicallyfuturistic yet organic, this album sounds like the culmination of all the music the band has made in their 10 years together. First single “Youth Without Youth” examines the fraying social state with a bristling energy and a driving beat. “Breathing Underwater” and “Speed the Collapse” both deliver on the classic METRIC chorus of soaring melancholy, while the lyrics for “Lost Kitten” and “Clone” call out some bad behavior and the consequences. Hard rocking title track “Synthetica” offers an epic conclusion to suspenseful album opener “Artificial Noctune.”
Afie Jurvanen, who performs as Bahamas, recorded his debut, Pink Strat, in a cabin in rural Ontario in the winter of 2008, with his roommate at the time, Robbie Lackritz (Jamie Lidell, Feist). Many of the songs were saved up over a period of 5 years of touring as part of Jason Collett’s band, and then Feist’s band. Similar to an old John Hammond or JJ Cale recording, the production is straight-forward, simple, and full of character–highlighting the storytelling and quaintness of the performances. Though the arrangements are sparse, Jurvanen plays bass, drums, piano, various percussion, organ, slide, acoustic, and nylon string guitars, and his friends from Zeus, The Great Lake Swimmers, and Feist also join him on a few of the tracks. Since the release of Pink Strat in summer 2009, Bahamas has performed with Elvis Costello, Sam Roberts, the Weakerthans, the Constantines, Amy Millan, and most recently finished touring with Wilco. He is currently embarking on Jason Collett’s Bonfire Ball Revue tour alongside Zeus and just received his first Juno nomination for Roots Album of the Year.
THERE ARE MORNINGS when I need some comfort right from the get go. I wake up, with the sun (hopefully) streaming in and I feel alone. Even when I’m surrounded by my girls and my love and the possessions that make up my life, I don’t know where I’m bound, and I don’t remember where I’ve been. Most of the time when I feel this way, I do what I’ve always done – I put on a record. I let the room warm up in its melodies, I let myself be still. And like a drug that takes a few minutes to work, by the third song, I’m not alone anymore. I remember where I came from, and even have a little bit of a clue as to where I’m going. – Jason Collett
Edward Christopher “Ed” Sheeran (born 17 February 1991) is an English singer, songwriter, and producer. Born in Halifax, before moving to Framlingham, he learned to play guitar and started writing songs at a young age. He began recording in 2005 and moved to London in 2008 to pursue a music career. In 2009, inspired by James Morrison, he played 312 gigs. In early 2011, he released his eighth independent extended play, No. 5 Collaborations Project; with it, Sheeran gained mainstream attention. Three months later, Sheeran was signed to Asylum / Atlantic Records.
“Besides having one of the best band names, Shark Week is also a very good psychedelic art rock four piece. For fans of Brian Jonestown Massacre and Pavement, if Pavement had a little more fun.”
– The Huffington Post
Stars are soft-revolutionaries and music is their rallying cry. Amy Millan, Chris Seligman, Torquil Campbell and Evan Cranley are four young people who through their music are trying to save us from our mundane and complacent fears. When at a loss for words, one music writer said the only way to describe Stars was “beautiful hope”. Their music has been described as “breath-takingly effervescent” and they have been called the kind of band that “blue lights and fog machines are made for”. Somewhere dancing between these designations is Stars’ “Heart”. An album with an otherworldly blissfulness and a sophisticated epicurean cool. To them, art is the way to change the world because it is sincere and heartfelt. With them it has no pretenses and is filled with passion and longing. Stars make music that musicians love. Their fans include Momus, Louis Phillipe, Saint Etienne, K-OS, Alan Moulder and Broken Social Scene, a band that Stars collaborate with on a regular basis and of which Evan is a permanent member.
Wye Oak are an indie folk rock duo from Baltimore, Maryland, USA, composed of Andy Stack (drums, keyboards, backup vocals) and Jenn Wasner (vocals, guitars). Their sound has been described as “earnest folk-influenced indie rock with touches of noise and dream pop”. Wasner sings lead vocals and plays electric or acoustic guitar, while Stack plays both drums and keyboards, playing the drums with his feet and right hand, and the bass line with his left hand.