If City and Colour’sDallas Green aims to explore every hue of
the sonic spectrum, he has gotten one color closer with his latest release.
Green’s body of work is versatile to say the least: he is a guitar
player and vocalist in the recently reunited post-hardcore band Alexisonfire,
and he is also the man behind tender acoustic love songs like “Northern Wind” under his alternative artistic identity City & Colour.
In keeping with Green’s exploratory nature, this record steps distinctly onto
new turf, though not with resounding sure-footedness.
Image courtesy of neontommy.com
The record opens with “Woman”, a sparse, pulsating
blues ballad with chilling instrumentation and forlorn lyrics that mourn a
collapsed relationship. The song builds until Green’s vocals are soaring over
walls of sound rolling forth in waves, conveying a palpable torment. Such
melancholic inspiration is not novel for Dallas Green, but this stylistic
movement is an unmistakable evolution.
The next few songs prove to be less memorable. “Mizzy C”
confronts struggles of creativity and artistic maturation over a musical career.
Ironically the track is not as distinct as others on the album, but its message
still rings out through a rhythmic chorus. Green hits his stride with “Wasted
Love”, which best weaves together the new elements experimented with on the album.
The chorus is catchy and the movement of the guitar and percussion creates a
complex and engaging soundscape. The upbeat escapist fantasies in “Runaway”
and “Map of the World” are relapses rather than revivals of old work. The steel
guitar is played with more than once on these tracks and is not misplaced, but neither is it
used to craft something extraordinarily fresh.
“Blood” is without contest the standout track from the album,
reminiscent of previous triumphs like “What Makes a Man?” From its first stirring
phrase the melody promises to haunt listeners long after the song finishes. The
unique implementation of trumpet and howling vocals as well as some of
Green’s best lyrics on the album capture the passions of the record in a truly remarkable
Green seems to shine most in subdued minimalist soundscapes,
where his sophisticated lyrics have the necessary space to resonate and his
arresting melodies can hold the undivided attention of the listener. With If I Should Go Before You, Green
departs from this territory somewhat; he tackles themes of worthiness, wanderlust,
frustration, dissatisfaction and heartbreak while simultaneously experimenting
with new genres. He doesn’t quite juggle both endeavors successfully – the album
is a sometimes lackluster culmination of blues, R&B and country with only a
few climactic moments. But perhaps those few climaxes are redemptive.
the songs (”Northern Blues”, “Runaway”, “Map of the World”) do not singularly offer a
profound impact, but the record in its entirety tells a powerful narrative that
is communicated with visceral honesty and emotion. All criticisms aside, this soul-bearing
journey absolutely warrants quiet appreciation and contemplation as we experience
its aching meaning in our own lives.
An indie pop band consisting of vocalist Phil Cerna, guitarist Peter McMurray, pianist Jared Fritz, drummer Josh Wiedenmeyer, and bassist Joe Coburn, The New Tribe is a group that, although new, knows technique.
With one single recently just released on iTunes and Spotify, the group’s new track “Human,” written by Phil Cerna, snatches you off your feet with hints in their sound of indie pop group Of Monsters and Men.
Within the first minute of the track, the overwhelming instruments of hard electric guitar and drums give you this impression of a hard rock vibe. Yet, instead of cringing all the way through, your face softens as the track mellows out into Cerna’s soft, tranquil voice overlaying an acoustic melody, and you suddenly realize the hard rock hook works into grabbing you to be pleasantly surprised by the raw vocals of vocalist Phil Cerna.
As Cerna, McMurray, and Fritz harmonize to sing “Nobody’s got what it takes/We’re all just fakes/Doing the best we can/Maybe we’ll make a few less mistakes/But that’s what makes us human,” there’s a heavier emphasis on the instrumentals, and you almost get a vibe similar to Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” Yet, unlike with other artists in which instrumentals can sometimes overpower vocals, and also like seasoned professionals Snow Patrol, The New Tribe keeps a perfect balance.
There are other elements to the track that keep you from becoming bored with the typical singer-songwriter vibe: the sick guitar solo in the middle, the great way Cerna demonstrates his vocal range in the bridge singing “Nobody’s got what it takes,” and the trippy jazzy stylings on keys combined with the great harmony of vocals in the last minute of the song.
And additional to great musical technique, the lyricism of Cerna once again appeals to a wide audience on a relatable level, proving that maybe these guys know how to write music.
It’s a solid first debut as original artists, and although you get more of an alternative rock serious feel than the bippy-boppy vibe of indie pop, there’s no doubt these guys can take it far, no matter the direction they take their sound. Phil Cerna’s beautiful clear voice does the band a true favor at vocally leading this single that the musicians plan to place on their upcoming EP in the near future.
The New Tribe could just have been lucky with this first single, and only their future EP will really tell whether these guys have a shot or not. But I’m not going to be skeptical yet, with knowledge that Phil Cerna and Peter McMurry take turns at the role of lead vocalist. With all this talent in one bunch, they’re bound to do something rad.
Take a listen, have a treat, because like I always like to say, you want to get their autograph now so you can sell it for millions later.
A laid back alternative singer-songwriter who’s been kicking it with the music industry since 2004, she’s come into her own as an artist, and knows her sound. And I’m not surprised, with her skills as a trained pianist and self taught guitarist and trumpet player. An 11-track album, Holly Miranda’s 2015 self titled album is one for the books. A strong start to the record, “Mark My Words,” is a track that begins with hints of a Explosions of Sky-esque guitar instrumental leading into some dreamy vocals and calming bells in background. The way Miranda rifts off into “You were just what I needed” in the first minute of the song is a beautiful demonstration of the very clean tone to her voice. The song is quiet and calming, and is a great hint to listeners of the overall vibe of the album.
And for the most part, her sound throughout the entire album is pretty consistent in terms of vocal and instrumental arrangements. She’s simple. She likes to coo and draw out her soft lilting voice with the help of a piano, and hey it works in a song like her last track of “Hymnal.” Fully demonstrating her vocal range on this track, you see this girl can almost take it to the opera level and you’re impressed.
Leading into the next track, “All I Want Is To Be Your Girl,” I get a more upbeat folk pop vibe, almost reminiscent of The Mowgli’s, but I think what I dig most are the chilled out tracks that have an Ingrid Michaelson feel, especially with the drawn out lovelorn vocals in songs like “Everlasting,” and “The Only One.”
“It’s not until we’re faced with death that we truly understand,” sings Miranda in Heavy Heart, overlain by a beautifully simple piano melody, a track which brought tears to my eyes. These tracks are too real for words, and it isn’t because of some phenomenal innate musical composition (although that is present). Miranda discusses themes of love, heartbreak, and that sense of not being to get someone off your mind, and these concepts if not relatable, are at least ones that evoke emotion.
Best track of the album by far “Desert Call.” Starting it off clean with Miranda’s vocals and some clean, clear cut guitar, “Desert Call” also takes you back to childhood in the summer. The saxophone near the latter half of the track makes you swoon with the sheer amount of jazzy sophistication coupled with Miranda’s suave vocals.
Think Ingrid Michaelson. Think stripped down Florence & the Machine. Think girl next door singing to you about love.
But in actuality, stop thinking and just listen because the album just dropped TODAY on iTunes and is most-definitely dope.
Last quarter, I posted an article on COHO and their efforts to fundraise for their first EP. Needless to say, the IndieGoGo campaign was a success as this weekend, the band released Graves.
Slowly and carefully, the EP begins. Its vocal “oohs” coming in waves over an ever-vibrant guitar. As the introduction to “Orion” comes to a close, the drums commence and a male falsetto rings out over a building set of instruments. This first song sets the mood for the album, introducing COHO’s subtle harmonies and interconnected instrumentation. The song’s lyrics are complicated, yet easy to follow – their meaning pervading the happy Oh’s and Hey’s you can’t help but sing along to!
“Burning Oak” begins with a mix of lyrics and synths so catchy that the passing listener could mistake it for yet another indie-pop song. Yet, upon the entry of guitar riffs eminent of Death Cab for Cutie and a rhythm that carries more than just a dance-beat, the EP’s second song breaks out of the genre’s inherit pitfalls. Instead of relying on an insistent chorus to carry the track, COHO waits until the eventual bridge to make a clear lyrical impact:
All my bones are older in the December
They repeat ad naseum, a series of instrumental and vocal layers adding to the intensity of the climax. A full instrumental breakdown fills the majority of the song’s ending moments, until a final repeat of the chorus cooly ends the first half of the release.
The second half of the EP is calmer than the first – its final tracks, “Disintegrate” and “Graves,” following a slower tempo than that of the first two. Filled with lyrical excellence, “Disintegrate” is a vocal-heavy song. Each instrument and vocal harmony follows the lead of a single female vocalist – the synthesizer carrying the spaces in-between. Simply and succinctly (4:05 is the track length, the shortest on the release), COHO paints a hopeful future for the human cycle of change. “Disintegrate,” the track ends, “if you have lost your love don’t lose your faith / disintegrate and wash away / the memories.”
Chitter-chatter fills the air and a solo bass-line fills the soundscape. The EP’s title track starts out strong – the first minute flying by as each new instrument adds to the last. The two main vocalists work together perfectly, their powerful voices strongly contrasting the easy-going percussion. Repeating their soothingly complex layers of lyrics like those that filled the end of “Burning Oak,” COHO finds synchronicity within their seemingly endless mix of sounds.
The band plays together beautifully and the Graves EP displays this prowess. If you were lucky enough to catch the EP Release show at BARBOZA last weekend, I envy you. Now, more than ever, I am excited to see how this new mix of diverse talent and sound plays out in the future!
Hey, hey, hey, hey friends. Sometimes it’s good to acknlowledge oldies as goodies.
So let’s just talk about Milky Chance.
A German folk duo with reggae and electronic music influences made up of Clemens Rehbein
(vocals and instrumentals) and Philipp Dausch (production and DJing),
Milky Chance is badass. Their album, Sadnecessary,
released just last year in October, has 11 tracks that you will either love or
hate. I don’t really think there’s really an in between with Milky Chance. They’re
chilled out dance pop, they’re a German folk jazz duo. It’s hard.
Chance,” a more upbeat tempo track is the song that made it for Milky Chance,
is catchy with a dance beat of synchronistic claps, funky bass, and on- beat
drums. The vocals are more harmonious, and the -lyrics instantly just get
anyone to groove, with Rehbein crooning, “And I want you/We can bring it on the floor/You’ve never danced like this
before/We dont talk about it/Dancin’ on do the boogie all night long/ Stoned in
paradise, shouldn’t talk about it.” It’s chill, but it’s a boogie song with an
electro-tech vibe finishing out the song.
Rehbein has a
very distinct vocal style, and production wise, the two create this blend of
folk, reggae, and pop with almost this electronic aspect thrown in there for
kicks. “Flashed Junk Mind” and “Stunner”
on Sadnecessaryare some easily
the most relaxed tracks on the album, delivering beautiful broken up rhythms
and scratchy, raspy vocals. Quickly, you
learn to discover the aesthetic of Milky Chance and you wonder if their sound
will become repetitive and old. But then there’s tracks like “Becoming,” that
instantly give you vibes of old Southern jazz, mixed with indie folk, and
you realize there’s no way Milky Chance can bore you.
The best track of the album is easily “Down by the River.” Rehbein’s scratchy croons of his lyrics of “Down
by the river, I
was drawn by your grace/ Into tempest of oblivion and to the Lovers place"
overlaying some rhythmically guitar melodies.
It’s probably a song that is the most pop on the album, but has good rhythm and sound.In comparison to “Feathers” and “Sweet Sun” has a sense of dissonance and non-conforming rhythm. It’s free-flowing, it’s a song you listen to when you just don’t care anymore.
I’m not going to lie, I definitely don’t listen to these
guys for their lyrical creativity. It’s lacking a little in that department. It’s
their instrumental rhythms that I love, and I can admit, I love the sound of
Rehbein’s raspy vocals, reminiscent to me of The Tallest Man on Earth. These guys have already gotten big, but
if you’re fan ofvocally distincty Gotye, or the instrumentally dreamy XX, you’ll like this German sound.
They’re on tour this year, so if you have tickets already to
see them somewhere throughout the U.S., then you’re a cool cat. Boogie to “Stolen
Dance” for me.
Earlier today, Toro Y Moi surprised us all with a track we never expected! “Buffalo” (available on SoundCloud below) premiered on The Fader this morning along with a few insights into TYM’s creative process:
When I started writing this song I was experiencing a bit of writer’s block and this song was what pulled me out. As soon as I wrote it, I knew it would set the tone for the entire album.
And so it did. Comparing this track with TYM’s last release from this album, we can hear similar vibes of snares and solidarity. Both “Buffalo” and “Empty Nesters” rely on a driving rhythm beneath insightful lyrics. ‘Cause you love it all / ‘Cause you’ll find a way / To keep on… Check out the video from the January release below:
Stay tuned (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for more coverage of Toro Y Moi’s latest endeavor! I am excited to see what other singles are planned for release before the album (tracklist below) drops in April!
What For? (Expected Release Date: April 7, 2015) 01 What You Want 02 Buffalo 03 The Flight 04 Empty Nesters 05 Ratcliff 06 Lilly 07 Spell It Out 08 Half Dome 09 Run Baby Run 10 Yeah Right
Almost a month ago, Jarryd James (broody-looking guy in above photo) released his debut single, “Do You Remember”, confirming his status as an artist to keep an eye out for in the near future.
The track is a lovely mixture of genres–a little bit indie, a little bit electronic, a dash of folk. James, who is from Brisbane and is currently opening for Angus & Julia Stone on their Australian tour, reminds me a lot of James Blake and James Vincent McMorrow. Vocally and lyrically, he is definitely on par with both.
The gentle riff that begins this song is catchy and calming, and James’ breathy, soulful voice on top of the deep, rhythmic percussion that kicks in is enough to make anyone feel at peace. I dare you not to sing along when the chorus rolls around for the second time.
It seems unfair to be left hanging after such a great debut, but I strongly suggest following Jarryd James on Soundcloud and/or Twitter to stay posted on what’s to come–if this single is any indication, it’s going to be unreal.
Last weekend, I waited in line for two hours – playing guitar, drawing with strangers, and even taking a picture with “sasquatch”:
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of using one of my (two!) free tickets to see a collection of chaotic, clever, and comedic acts. This was the Sasquatch Launch party – a random pageant of madness and fun that resulted in the release of the all-anticipated line-up!
Comedian, Chris Gethard, opened the show with an enthusiastic display of his tattoos and mental health issues. We laughed and he smiled, and we waited – through the sounds of Star Wars cantina music – for The Young Evils to perform.
Adorned in a Macklemore “My City’s Filthy” shirt, The Young Evils’ Mackenzie Mercer entered the stage, followed by Troy Nelson, Michael Lee,and Scott and Brendon Helgason. Slow at first, Lee’s guitar put us all into a trance – the band’s Black Sabbath-like breakdowns providing an outlet for us to rock out!
The Young Evils start off the show with a bang!
Their next few songs sounded like a surfer-pop weekend playlist with some Ramones thrown in. Mercer and Nelson stared at each other occasionally before turning to their mics to sing their teenage indie-gaze pop songs. “We keep running in circles,” they wailed over the wavy bass line.
Throughout their performance, The Young Evils maintained this surfer rock vibe. Mercer’s hands clapped to the innocuous rhythm. Buzzy and popping, Brendon’s bass led the rhythm – Scott’s drums keeping up with its dramatic kicks and snares. All the while, Mackenzie Mercer and Michael Lee enticed us with their solos as they sang and danced around the stage.
They played a brand new song to the audience’s enjoyment. Mercer came closer to the edge of the stage, the front row girls bobbing their heads to the rhythm. As the song continued to build, it would quickly move into The Young Evil’s characteristic breakdowns – hard and heavy chords breaking through deadly drums with electric guitar riffs thrown in haphazardly.
After thanking us, the band began a duet between the two frontmen. "Dearly beloved,“ Nelson announced, "we are gathered here today to see the Tacocat, Ty Segall, and to see the rise of the scorch”
As we cheered in slight confusion, we picked up right back to where we left off. Bass shaking the floor, the frontmen sang in unison above crowd while short and sweet solos weaved in and out of the fluid verses.
Taking the maraca from the drummer, Mercer strutted to the front of the stage. She danced to the rhythm and her right hand joined in. While Michael Lee ooh-ed and aah-ed in the distance, the band sang in chorus until a quick switch sent the guitarist shredding as the song faded away.
Warped guitar and a reminiscent summer-time vibe filled the rest of the performance. After a quick announcement about what was coming up in the show, a melancholy guitar entered the mix. Despite lyrics like, “dead animals is what we’ll become,” the music brought us to life – the crowd moving their bodies with the tide of the music.
After a final song and a bit of cantina music (again), a Sasquatch montage video appeared before us. A distorted voice announced how amazing the festival was going to be before advertising ziibra.com/sasquatch – a media subscription that gives people a behind-the-scenes look at the building of Sasquatch!
Chris returned to the stage for another comedic break. He was astounded by how excited we get about free things. So, he “gave away free shit!” In response, one member of the audience screamed, “free stuff rules!”
Cue more cantina music (seriously, the same song), then along came Tacocat! Struggling to find their things in the dark, the band began to mic check and drink their beers. After the band tuned their instruments, bassist Bree McKenna described their first song to the applause of the audience.
The foursome did nothing but enthuse as they danced and sang in tandem
We all swung our hips and moved our lips in unison – oohs and ahhs echoing throughout the room. In a t-shirt and jeans, guitarist Eric Randall casually played until technical difficulties stopped him from doing so.
“We think the Neptune is haunted,” frontman Emily Nokes explained as Randall attempted to fix his amplifier. The awkward empty air provided a great time for stage banter as drummer LelahMaupin recalled her favorite story about a cat that didn’t die. “The only lesson we have to learn from Bartok the Miracle Cat,” she concluded, “is that it proves that pet cemetery is real!”
Magically, the technical difficulties were resolved! “Fuck you Neptune…” Nokes yelled, “-ghost!” she quickly added with a smile. As the band played their breakout single, “Bridge to Hawaii”, orange lights reflected off of Emily’s watermelon dress and Bree’s bright white and studded guitar. Lelah danced in the rhythm, her head leading her body in waves of intensity.
After a quick break for a drink of beer, Tacocat started to play a more intense set as the song “sk8 or die” caused the audience to start to mosh. Lelah’s commentary broke up the intensity. “The only thing I remember seeing here was Juno…” she said. “Twice!” the Emily quickly added. “Twice,” Lelah responded.
“She has the soundtrack on vinyl,” Eric remembers to announce. With a turn and a smile, Lelah responded with a gleeful, “That’s true!”
With a laugh, the band started playing their next song like before – Bree’s bass moving our muscles and Eric’s guitar blowing our minds. All the while, simple riffs flew right by Emily’s voice as she danced in a ska-like jig.
“Psychedelic Quincerniera,” was announced by Bree through a smile. The whole time, Maupin kicked ass! Throughout the song, she never stopped moving, despite the infrequent discourse of the crackling guitar. Even through the continual technical difficulties, the song ended with with a big, trippy Mexican guitar riff.
Reveling in the awkwardness, The band made a series of jokes including “that signature tacocat sound… Crunch!” said through a Noke’s ear-to-ear smile.
“I have a joke!” Lelah announced, “The busty crustacean joke!” Those who had previously attended the band’s shows cheered – a member of the audience even giving the answer to the drummer’s innocuous riddle.
The set continued and crowd favorite after favorite caused us to reminisce and cheer. Occasionally a crackled guitar would scream out above the mix and we would smile with the lead singer as she commented on “how beautiful the Neptune was.”
Throughout the set, the guitar continued to crackle but Randall played through it, never ceasing his harmonies for Noke’s catchy melodies. Meanwhile, I found myself wondering how Maupin could be so cute yet so menacing! Her sparkles shaking off with every bead of sweat, she smiled maliciously as she sang, “this is anarchy” and other clever one-liners.
For their last song, a man-sized lobster joined the band on stage as he began to dance alongside Emily. The crowd went wild with energy, once again moshing in the center of the floor.
In a surge of energy, the band left the stage and the lineup announcement began. We cheered as familiar names scrolled across the screen and was met with the same enthusiasm as Chris, the comedian, re-entered the stage. In case you missed it yesterday, check out nilorap’s full coverage of the lineup in our Rainy Blawg article.
Chris Gethard presents us with more free stuff!
Ty Segall entered the stage with nothing but a hard-shell acoustic guitar case in his hand. Adjusting the mic to his guitar, he lets us know that he’d be playing an acoustic set. The guitar propped up on his knee, Segall kept his impeccable instrumental skill as he sang along so fluidly. Quieter than the other performers, Segall kept us interested with his unorthodox lyricism and devilishly detailed guitar parts.
Segall commanded the stage with nothing but a guitar and a notebook
He played us a bunch of songs, both new and old. From some that were untitled to favorites like “Crazy,” Segall never let down his Led Zeppelin demeanor and face that might as well be Kurt Cobain’s during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set.
“This song is about my girlfriend” he said, before forgetting the chords and starting over. We laughed as he continued to sing the song, “Sleeper.” He moved his capo around his guitar as he decided which songs to play. He played us stories on his guitar, his lyrics bringing us into his universe – where every moment is precious and every person has their own world of importance.
He stopped playing to continue his story, connecting it with yet another song. “she said she wants to buy a couch” he sings. We laugh at his humor which remained interspersed throughout his lyrics.
“I’m gonna keep going with this theme of consumption,” he finally states, “this one is called Manipulators.” We ooed with him between verses and reveled in his relaxed demeanor. At one point, a man in the front row – later to be known as Sean – requested his favorite song and Ty obliged, his casual niceness and cheer flowing out until the end of the event.
When I left the show, I felt like I had just been to a friend’s house. It was strange since the event was free and there was nothing keeping us there except our love of the music. These artists felt the same vibe and rocked with us throughout the night! If anything, this sort of approach to music performance gives me hope for the beautiful time that will be Sasquatch! 2015.
In this dreary period of somber winter nights, I’ve felt a little melancholy. I’m pining for sunshine, for sweet summertime nights, for nights around the campfire drinking some lemonade. I’m pining for the days of cool relaxation and no stress. Mostly, I’m pining for cool, fresh new music, and I think I found it.
So… we should meet JUNGLE FIRES.
A New York based duo composed of artists Menashé David Israel & Kéren Or-Tayar, JUNGLE FIRES is a brand new artist that puts indie pop and indie soul on the map. With beautiful piano harmonies,some chill electric guitar, and soulful vocals, their debut album Bliss Point is sure to take center
It’s a six-track album with its number one track creating
the perfect interest into their record. Brilliant song, “Nothing Can Be
Changed,” JUNGLE FIRES builds this track up softly, quietly, but very, very
clean. Kéren, one of the artists in the duo, dominates in terms of vocals with Menashé
backseating it. However, the two harmonize well, and Kéren’s voice is beautiful
as she rolls on with excellent control. This track is full of acoustic
harmonies and some nice piano melodies that hints to me of some jazz
influences. This song sounds cool and all, right? Yet, I think what makes it
excellent is its free-flowing rhythm and very distinct lack of catchy “boppiness.”
This is no Alex & Sierra piano pop duo in which you take hold of the
predictable chorus and happily sing along. The melody in this track takes turns
you wouldn’t expect, but the artists do it very masterfully with soft vocals
and strong instrumentals reminiscent of instrumentalist artist Explosions in the Sky. Ending the first
track with some echoing whistles, I got the campfire, classy soul vibe and I
I’m not going to spoil the entire album for you, as you should
take a listen for it yourself. But, we definitely need to talk about my favorite
track off this new record, “It’s Okay.” There are so many reasons I love this
track. It’s a little more fast-paced, and we hear more of Menashé’s vocals and
it’s great. But more than that, the two did something awesome, and added horns into
this track. The trumpet that’s going on gives this Middle Eastern/Spanish vibe,
and it creates this song as jazz, soul, and pop all in one. I think what I love
most of about this track is its ethnic reminiscence and its musical diversity.
They have soft vocals, and they have good vocals, but I could definitely see the two going off in this direction that is
very acoustic guitar pop, very cookie cutter radio style. And the fact they are
doing their completely own sound makes me very happy.
The rest of the album is pretty fantastic for a debut. Their
October 2014 single, “Hold,” is a track that is a bit more folk based, but has a bit
more traditional harmony with Kéren leading the vocals. I like it though, and I’m
glad they put in the record. “Open Eyes” is beautiful as Menashé softly almost
whispers “Shouting as loud as a siren of war/ Just to desperately reach to your
world” over the hints of tambourine, violin, and guitar. “Best of Me” ends the record
on a fantastically high note, with a much more pop vibe, and I’m not complaining.
These guys know what they’re doing.
Agh, have I converted you yet? Hopefully, enough for you to
listen to their album here:
After local artists Crater and Shaprece rocked out with their high energy and expressive vibes, Moses Sumney assumed his position in front of the audience at the Ethnic Cultural Center on Wednesday, January 28th. Just his very presence sent ethereal sensations throughout the venue, creating a kind of piercing silence that is only heardwhen crowds of people are in complete and utter awe of whatever it is they find
themselves collectively part of. “There’s gonna be a lot of surprises tonight,
for both of us,” Moses Sumney said with a laugh as he grabbed the mic and
started to test the waters on the stage. His sly remarks gave the impression that
he may have been a tad nervous, but the moment he started playing music it
became clear that nerves were most certainly not a factor in his phenomenal
performance. Although I might not have plastic wings like Moses Sumney (as
heard in his song “Plastic”), I felt myself float as he began to experiment
with his inspiring soul/folk sounds.
sounds began to develop into loops of his voice, overlapping each other—resulting
in a trancelike, overwhelming foundation for the musical journey he was
beginning to create for the audience. I’ve never been to another show where I
felt like I was watching art being created in front of my eyes and ears, but
Moses Sumney really achieved that with the techniques he used to create his
beautiful compositions. Aside from the use of a guitar, the only other
instrument Moses used on stage was his voice and his looping tool to create a
unique experience unlike any other that I’ve felt at a live show. Each
individual noise coming out of his mouth and guitar somehow developed into
beautiful songs that surrounded the audience in an unearthly bubble that popped
in each audience member’s mind.
opening song—“Dwell in the Dark”—was one of his more upbeat folky songs that
created liveliness throughout the ECT. This and his next song, “Man on the Moon,”
set the tone for the rest of the night as being a soulful and unique one on the
UW campus. As this song came to an end, he held one high note and began looping
his voice into a really interesting mix of sounds. The tones in this mixture
became almost anxiety-inducing in the best possible way—causing listeners to
feel a bit uncomfortable in their seats as they felt the growing sublime energy
swallow and capture their senses. The Ethnic Cultural Center turned into a cave
of creation, full of reverberating sounds including beat boxing, clapping, and
intonations of Moses Sumney’s heavenly voice (as can be seen and heard below).
He later went into playing one of
my favorite songs of the night—“Worth It”—and joked about it being written
about tuition increases (hehe, thanks for keeping a positive attitude about
tuition rises, Mr. Sumney). The biggest crowd pleaser of the night definitely
came when Moses began playing “Plastic,” one of his most played songs on his Soundcloud. He eased into playing this mellow and sexy tune while receiving cheering
from the entire audience to continue his outstanding work. There was one point
during the song that he began to actually whisper, almost teasing listeners to
beg for more of his smooth voice.
the night, I felt myself become emotionally controlled by the powerful hold
that the music had over me; however, the saddest part came when Moses Sumney’s
music had to stop. As he exited with a standing ovation (no surprise there), I
found myself wishing for an encore more than I had ever in my entire life. Unfortunately
there was no encore, but I did get a chance to briefly speak with Moses after
the show and get a picture with this up and coming legend.
Incase you weren’t able to come
around this time to experience this one-of-a-kind musician; I strongly recommend
you check him out the next time he’s in Seattle (which lucky for you is on
February 17th at Neumos)! You won’t regret it—I can speak from experience when I say that it will be an ear-opening performance to remember as last Wednesday’s was at the ECT.
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