Thursday, April 24, 2014

Features: Life Size Maps, Dead Heart Bloom, Berlin, Field Mouse

There is a heroic nature to Mike McKeever’s musical project Life Size Maps.   Following in the digital footprints marked out by Kurt Feldman’s Depreciation Guild and additional game/sound practicioners Anamanaguchi, McKeever employs similar song design concepts.

“This Same House,” the band’s latest single release shimmers with a celestial background pulse as cleanly defined vocals overlay forceful guitar washes and precise synthesizer hooks. Lyrically, the story is one of trying to keep focused on what you really want to do, while the endless all night party swirls around you.


A number of surprising changes masterfully embedded in this just over three minute songs shows intelligence and dare we say it, prog rock leanings. Life Size Maps continue to showcase this sound, frequently playing out live in venues all over the New York area.

Life Size Maps on The Deli Mag by Dave Cromwell

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A series of recent EP releases by Dead Heart Bloom sees the New York City band connecting on an expanded sonic level.
The results present the best kind of recording collaboration between the songwriter/performers and producer, allowing the musicians to stretch out creatively, while establishing a shimmering ambiance around it all.

The most recent release “So It Goes” leads off with the track “Broken Babylon” (available as a free download on their bandcamp page deadheartbloom - broken-babylon ) and moves with a pace and sensation of flowing waves.

 Deliberate snare drum roll punctuation echo the style of Colm Ó Cíosóig in My Bloody Valentine, while guitars ultimately launch off into the stratosphere like a NASA space shot. Although the dense layers of keyboards and effects-heavy vocals fill the entire sonic field, every bit is audible and never feels crowded. Rubbery bass lines are centrally positioned in the mix, making for a pure headphone/headtrip listing experience. The band is currently on tour, playing select shows around the east coast.

Dead Heart Bloom on The Deli Mag by Dave Cromwell

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Getting the opportunity to speak to an iconic figure from your past is always a treat.  It really is one of the biggest perks of being a music writer. The musicians who’ve made indelible impressions on one’s coming-of-age youth always hold a certain magical leverage.  One such artist who clearly falls in this select group is 80’s MTV darling Terri Nunn of the band Berlin. 

For the uninitiated, Berlin was one of the biggest bands in the world throughout the 1980’s. Forming in Los Angeles, they burst into music fan’s consciousness in 1982 with their platinum-selling debut EP “Pleasure Victim.” The lead single from that album “Sex (I’m A)” was in constant rotation on MTV (back when that channel was also in its infancy, and only showed music videos).

Follow-up singles “The Metro” and “Masquerade” from that album solidified them in the minds and hearts of fans worldwide who were tuned in to this new wave of electronic dance-rock music. Terri and Berlin hit No. 1 worldwide in 1986 with the Giorgio Moroder written and produced “Take My Breath Away,” which won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

Now after releasing their seventh studio album “Animal” this past September, Berlin is embarking on an east coast tour that starts in Asbury Park, NJ on April 30. Additional shows in Philadelphia and Hanover, MD are on the tour, with their major New York City show on May 3rd at The Cutting Room.

In anticipation of these eastern tour dates, Terri spoke with me about the history of her band, as well as the new album. She describes the new album as one that incorporates modern electronic dance music (EDM) while retaining the groundbreaking synth-electro-pop sounds and vocal qualities that initially defined Berlin. The title track was the first song co-writer and producer Derek Cannavo composed, and after listening back to it Terri states “we knew this partnership was meant to be.” The accompanying video depicts Terri in a club setting, engaging in flirtatious behavior that celebrates sensual animal sexuality. “I originally wanted as many different looking people in the video as possible,” Nunn said. “My director Chad Michael Ward helped me bring this vision to life. The youngest in the video is 19, and the oldest is 76,” she continued.

Speaking about some of her more memorable times in New York City, she recalls that “playing a show with The Thompson Twins at Radio City Music Hall was a great moment.” The New York connection remains strong on the current album as mix masters John Alicastro and Mike Lauri added their magic touch to many of the tracks. When asked if she came to New York to complete this work, she laughed and said “we did everything via email. This is the modern way now.”

Berlin’s first album in eight years, “Animal” features 12 tracks, including a wonderfully updated cover of the Jefferson Airplane classic “Somebody To Love.” This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Terri’s history, as she has referenced that band’s legendary frontwoman Grace Slick as her single most important inspiration to become a singer.

Check out Berlin’s latest album here as well as all their upcoming tour dates.

A previously published version of this Berlin feature can be found Here at MySocialList.

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Brooklyn dreampoppers Field Mouse prepare their first full length album “Hold Still Life” via Topshelf records. Scheduled for release on July 22, the album was co-produced by the creative forces of singer/lyricist/guitarist Rachel Browne and producer/guitarist Andrew Futral.

Splitting recording time between two noteworthy Brooklyn studios (Seaside Lounge and Let Em In) in late 2013, the mixing was handled by Kyle Gilbride (Swearin' Waxahatchee, Upset). The new tracks stay true to the band’s original dreamy guitar style while adding sonic elements like synthesizers to the mix. Heartfelt pathos can be frequently found through the combination of sweet vocal melodies and introspective lyrics. “Asteroid,” laments that “it’s a shame” how often we just “walk away” from each other. Deeper cuts like “Horizon City” shows the band expanding on preconceived notions of their overall sound, simultaneously touching on both prog and punk elements. “Bright Lights” ostensibly incorporates bittersweet feelings of longing, joy and sadness, all at the same time.  Until those tracks are released, check out the video of Field Mouse's single from one year ago, entitled "Tomorrow is Yesterday."

The band will be playing at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn on May 26.

Field Mouse on The Deli Mag by Dave Cromwell

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