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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

La Sera Interview-Sees The Light

One of the early highlights of my time at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas last month was the opportunity to interview Katy Goodman of La Sera.

Katy has been known on the music scene for a while now as an integral member of The Vivian Girls.

Now fronting a band where she is the central figure and sole songwriter, La Sera delivers a sweet pop sound that rocks hard around the edges, while presenting lyrical themes of relationships that have run their course.


I asked Katy a number of questions directly relating to her latest album "Sees The Light"















 

 

The official hardly art “Please Be My Third Eye” video

Katy was sweet and accomodating - a pleasure to interview.

"Sees The Light" is a wonderful pop album and a welcome addition to your summertime playlists

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Heaven + Swervedriver, live @ Bowery Ballroom

When a killer double bill of both new and legendary bands presents itself - it would be a crime to miss such a show.

So it was my pleasure to head on down to The Bowery Ballroom on the final Saturday (and day) of March - the 31st - to catch two bands who's music holds serious interest for me.

 First up was a band who I've written about previously - both here on this blog and at The Deli Magazine - Brooklyn's own Heaven.


Fronted by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Matt Sumrow the band plays a precise and controlled style of dream rock.


Complementing Matt's lead vocals is keyboardist and sometimes bassist Ryan Lee Dunlap.  In addition to providing buzzy synth textures within each song, Ryan adds to Matt's lead vocals with a tandem harmonizing that gives this band their unique sound.


Matt is a prominent guitarist who's live and session work is in demand throughout the music community.


Since the band's permanent drummer - Mikey Jones provides the percussion for Swervedriver's live performance - Heaven used a replacement drummer who more than capably filled in.  It was interesting to see how another professional drummer was so quickly brought up to speed on their catalogue of songs.

As in introduction to their forthcoming album (scheduled to be released in full later on this year), Heaven delivers their song “Falling Apple” by way of this music video:


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Ryan concentrates on synthetic textures


Matt delivers essential guitar structures


Vocals, synths and drums, locked and loaded


The audience paid close attention to music that was new to many of them.  Their applause let the band know it was hitting the mark.


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The band presented a tight, no nonsense set that was executed with a precise professionalism that left the crowd satisfied and ready for what was to come next.

For further reading on Heaven, check out my previous features on them at these links here:




 As well as the band's own site:



Now it was time for the headline act. Swervedriver was formed in Britain in 1990 fusing swirling textures with the more traditional rock structures.


 22 years later, and the band sounds as good as their explosive beginnings.


As one might expect, the set was filled with all their classic tracks.


The audience hung on every note - every memorable word.


Adam Franklin leads the band with impressive style, while Heaven's Mikey Jones capably covers all of the drumming anyone could ever need.


Bathed in red lighting, the "gaze" was spectacular.


Rave Down - - Hit The Ground


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A set list to make the most diehard of fan happy.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 6 - Sunday 18 SXSW

And so we come to the final day that is this marathon known as the South By Southwest music festival.

After being out to the wee hours of the morn, Sunday doesn't really begin in reality until the early afternoon.


For the second year in a row, the Sunday restaurant of choice was Guero's

Texting back and forth for the entire time in Austin during this week (after the obligatory social networking  messaging during the months leading up to) - a meeting was finally had between myself and fellow MOG writer "mama" (who also goes by the name Lisa).

 Captured for the MOG-o-sphere, this photo had to be taken.


The traveling roadcrew having a breezy early-afternoon meal and beverages.  Lisa, yours truly, LG, Ana and James fuel up for more musical exploits.


Into the bowels of the beast one more time, we headed over to the open all day party at Beerland to catch the punk-glam-psych sounds of Brooklyn's own Xray Eyeballs.

OJ, Carly and Liz had the Xray-rock going full tilt on this day.


Amusingly, the drummer played as a mysterious shrouded phantom.


OJ and Carly front the band with the classic boy-girl tandem of alternating lead vocals.


Liz adds quite a bit to the overall sound by way of backing up on rhythm guitar and keyboards.


A perfect way to spend the last afternoon in Austin


Xray clatter to make your head and heart shatter


Another performer of note was a synth driven act from Kentucky going by the clever name of Idiot Glee.  An actual solo act with appealingly textured machines, the set was impressive as we observed from the comfort zone of Xray Eyeball's merch table.



Now there was anticipation building for a return engagement of last year's stand out Sunday night performer - Vockah Redu.


 Always exhibiting a flair for the dramatic, Vockah had Beerland whipped up into a New Orleans bounce frenzy.


When familiarity is not doing it's job (breeding contempt) - it may actually make the heart grow fonder.

Such is the case with an artist I knew nothing about a year ago, but this year found me looking forward to the performance.


Duly impressed with the Beerland show, we literally followed him over to his next scheduled show at The Mohawk nearby.


  Which then became the final stop on this years South By Southwest extravaganza.

A fitting end to a week that takes over two of them to recap. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 5 - Part 2 Sat 17 SXSW

The Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Showcase at Casa Chapala was in high gear now.

Taking the stage was Austin's own UME.  My third Ume show this week.


To say they killed it one more time would be something of an understatement.  As you can see the crowd was pretty into it.


Lauren Langer Larson is a whirling, shredding, human dynamo.


Once again revisiting the view from behind Rachel's drum kit.  The playing was even more ferocious on this afternoon.


Lauren and bandmates ripped through hellaciously paced set of all their best songs.


Eric Larson drives the rhythm section with a cool presence and understated leadership qualities.


Of the three shows I saw, this may have been the most impressive.  Lauren took it to another level and blew everyone away with her brilliant guitar playing and high energy performance.


Ume proved once again they are the class of Austin and all the SXSW festival.

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Another band I had been hoping to catch live came to fruition when the lovely Lilies On Mars took to the stage.


Lilies on Mars weave dreamy guitar and synth lines, hypnotic vocals and psychedelic sounds into gorgeous pop and abstract songs, with words of reality and dreams.

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The band consists of Lisa Masia and Marina Cristofalo, who met over ten years ago in Sardinia, and now reside in London.
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Another band I'd been waiting to see live again, were my friends The Sunshine Factory


Having been through some changes since I first got to know them a few years ago (and name me a band that hasn't been through "a few changes") - the current model now sound better than ever.


Now a full permanent member of the band, young bassist Sally Robertson adds important sonic and visual qualities to an already appealing musical presentation.

Of course the central force of The Sunshine Factory is frontman, lead vocalist, guitarist and instrumental songwriter Ian Taylor



Their show on this afternoon was nothing less than spectacular.


In addition to their classic dreamgaze sound, they put on a magnificent light show.


Responsible for this great lighting - and the songs lyrics as well - its the bands silent member - Robert Taylor


Stars dapple off of Sally's frame


They have a wonderful album out now - "Sugar" - and I highly recommend it.

Find out more about it via these links:


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What followed this was something that resulted from a combination of factors.  One, it was St. Patrick's Day.  Two, it was a Saturday.  Three, it was later in the day.  People had been drinking (and doing God knows what else) all day long.  That included the so-called "sound man."  Not the good guy I mentioned earlier on this day (Hanford) - but a particularly cement-headed individual who became less coherent and more abrasive as the day went on.  It was reported that he apparently was trying to shake down the bands for additional "soundman fees" - or they couldn't play.  One such scheduled band (you can see their name on the chalk board earlier on) was Austin's own Bloody Knives.  When they were at first allowed to take the stage - then told they had to get off for another band - they set up on the side - and part way into the next set - started blasting their own sounds from the sidelines.  A ruckus ensued and after some tense moments (give or take people's perceptions of the events) - this particular party was shut down.

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But being as it was Saturday Night - the party must go on!   Now in the late night terrain of beyond unofficial events, we found ourselves at a place called the 21st Co-Op.

To my eyes the whole place looked like a scene out that recent frat-party-gone-out-of-control movie Project X.

Still, there was some quality music to be heard.

One of the main reasons for being there was to catch local band Cool Serbia


Fronted by former Ringo Deathstarr guitarist Renan McFarland, they played a spirited set of raucus rock n' stomp that was most appropriate for this moment in time.




A power crunch three piece unit.  Big sounds from this homegrown Austin trio.


Bassist Raz handles the vocal duties, with more than capable results.


Encouraging "crowd participation" - the mic was positions so anyone who wanted to come up and "sing along" (i.e. shout unintelligible nonsense) was afforded this opportunity.


At one point near the end of their set, Raz was laying backwards on the floor, throttling his bass in an ecstatic rock star pose, when one festively sodden individual tripped and fell right on his face.

Asking Raz about the effects of this afterwards, he seemed to brush it off as "no big deal."

Another reason to be at this particularly odd location so late on Saturday Night/Sunday Morning - was to see and hear the joyous sounds of Brooklyn's own Dive


Much like the parent band that spawned them - Beach Fossils - they make a joyous sound that just makes you want to move your feet.




Two intertwined guitars - steady bass and drums.  It's happy music for people who just want to love the sounds.



Good vocals too.  They are a band who's music I enjoy a lot.

But - since this was a "Project X" type -party - it too ended with a kerfuffle - and the declaration that "this is being shut down!"

Though I wanted to see the next band - and was disappointed not to have on this occasion -  I would  get one more opportunity the following day.