Fresh Tunes – The People are Back

foster-the-people

Foster the People’s new album Supermodel has a lot going for it. As a follow-up to the band’s 2011 breakout debut Torches, it inevitably tries to avoid being labeled a “sophomore slump” by deviating from what what earned the band such instant notoriety: quirky, memorable lyrics and electronic hooks that serve well as pop rock tunes with enough substance to be called indie. Songs like “Helena Beat,” “Houdini” and of course the acclaimed single “Pumped Up Kicks” forced their way into the mainstream consciousness by embracing what made MGMT’s first three singles such staples of the alternative radio scene: have an upbeat, electronic hook, a sing-a-long chorus, and just enough reverb to make the odd lyrics indecipherable to a general audience.

foster-the-people-supermodel-410On Supermodel, Mark Foster and crew attempt to branch out from that success by asking “Are You What You Want to Be?” Yes, FTP are already disillusioned with the fame that took them only three years to obtain. And yet, Supermodel does a decent job of exploring themes of interpersonal relations and consumerism in the modern world. If only it didn’t sound so “meh”.

Let’s start with what they get right. Mark Foster said that the new album would be heavily influenced by bands like The Kinks and The Clash, and it shows. Mostly gone are the heavy, warm synths found on Torches, replaced by a solid rock sound that still manages to sound substantial. There are even subtle African influences in places, which make the percussion stand out in particular. Mark Foster’s vocal abilities have also received a slight upgrade. He shows off a mellow croon on “Fire Escape,” and teases a welcome angst on “A Beginner’s Guide to Destroying the Moon”. He even goes into full ballad mode on the short interlude “The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones”, which is nice but ultimately unnecessary. Foster limits himself too much to the typical falsetto “oohs” and “do do doos” to really call this record an evolution. More like a slow crawl in the right direction.

This is where the bulk of Supermodel’s issues arise. Rather than taking a step forward musically, Foster the People have simply shuffled to the side. Songs are often jumbled and overly busy, lacking the focus of their previous efforts. “Nevermind” and “Goats In Trees” are immediately forgettable, while others like “Pseudologia Fantastica” balance on the cusp of brilliance without ever taking the plunge. True to concept, Supermodel focuses largely on the pitfalls of fame and living the #selfie life. And yet, few songs actually succeed in being meaningful and interesting at the same time. Ideas of media consumption, bad acid trips and self-discovery are floating around here somewhere, but end up being too generic and preachy to be of much interest. These songs desperately crave to be the kind of social commentary that last year’s Arcade Fire and Lorde records were doing with relative ease. “Coming of Age” just doesn’t mean much coming from a guy who wrote commercial jingles just a few years ago.

There are some solid songs on Supermodel. Coming of Age” is a relatively tame alt-anthem, while “Pseudologia Fantastica” provides some decent thrills. The best song by far is “Best Friend,” which actually manages to groove pretty hard. One wonders what the album might have been if they had worked forward with that song’s charm in mind. Ultimately, Supermodel screams “rushed”. Few songs will have you coming back like “Pumped Up Kicks” did just two years ago. But really, the world is not lacking for bands like Foster the People. Empire of the Sun, Phoenix and Passion Pit would all gladly fill the hole left by MGMT’s early departure into psychedelic territory. In an age where fingers eagerly hover over the skip button, Foster the People could use some rest and a little peace of mind. And if you’re gonna pull a Kanye ego trip, you best have a Yeezus in your pocket.

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Shows of Note – Drive-By Lovin

Drive-By Truckers

When it comes to alt-country, few bands are as seasoned, well respected and appreciated more than the Drive-By Truckers. The Georgia based band got its start in 1996 and while some of the members have changed throughout the years the band has remained as one of the best in its genre.

Drive-By Truckers

Drive-By Truckers

The band consists of Patterson Hood (vocals, guitar), Mike Cooley (vocals, guitar), Matt Patton (bass), Jay Gonzalez (keyboards) and Brad Morgan (drums). Hood and Cooley are the only original members but have kept the band’s unique, three guitar sound alive.

Drive-By Truckers’ 12th studio album, English Oceans dropped March 3 of this year. Most of Drive-By Truckers‘ music is written by Hood, but this changed with English Oceans. Cooley wrote 6 of the 13 tracks for English Oceans creating a sort of dialogue between the band’s long-time members. Fans on iTunes have given English Oceans a four out of five star rating. One fan (Jason1225) wrote:

“This is Mike Cooley’s strongest and most consistent song writing in years. Not only is this true given he has more songs on this record, but the guitar solos he plays (not just in his songs mind you) are really strong. Usually I like Patterson’s stuff…but some of these feel like leftovers from Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance. The song “Hanging On” is especially unfortunate. Otherwise, this is overall a pretty solid album. It dangles in the middle of country and rock territory, never really going too far into either. Honestly, that is their thing, and they deliver on it once again.” 

The truckers will be performing in the northwest April 23 in Seattle at Showbox SoDo and April 24 in Portland at Roseland Theater. The ‘Burg is giving away tickets to the Seattle show, this Sunday (4/13) between 4 and 6 p.m. on “The Big Show,” with Elliott the Engineer. Tune-in for a chance to win!

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Shows of Note – Boy Bands Forever

The Wanted

Let’s be honest. Boy bands are your guilty pleasure. Children of the 90’s fondly remember Backstreet Boys, ‘N SYNC, 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men and even Hanson. It seemed that the boy band era had died, when a resurgence of boy bands rose to fame starting with the Jonas Brothers and now groups like Big Time Rush, One Direction and Mindless Behavior.

The Wanted

The Wanted

One of the catchiest boy band releases of recent years is The Wanted’sGlad You Came.” “Glad You Came” was on The Wanted’s 2012 self-titled EP after being released as a single in 2011. Last November, the boy band dropped their third studio album, Word of Mouth.  While fans of the group have shown nothing but love for the new album, Rolling Stone gave Word of Mouth 2 out of 5 stars. But let’s face it, the stuff of boy bands isn’t usually Rolling Stone’s cup of tea.

Rumor has it, The Wanted is breaking up after their current tour is over. According to TMZ, the band released a statement, saying, “This tour will be their last for a while as Tom, Max, Jay, Siva and Nathan have collectively decided to take time to pursue personal endeavors following the tour’s conclusion.”

If you want a shot at seeing the band for potentially their last tour ever, The Wanted will be in Seattle at the Showbox SoDo on April 26. The ‘Burg is giving away tickets, so tune-in tomorrow (4/10) to “Across the Board” between 10 and noon for a chance to win!

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Shows of Note – Man or Band?

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Kris Orlowski. Is that a person, name of a band? Is it a man? Is it a woman? These are questions a few of us have asked ourselves after seeing the name of this mystery artist. The answer is Kris Orlwoski is a band named after a man, a man who happens to be the lead singer and front man for the band.

Kris Orlowski

Kris Orlowski

We would like Kris Orlowski regardless of where the band’s roots lie, but it makes it all the more sweeter when they happen to be from Seattle. The five-piece band has been traipsing across the Pacific Northwest touching the souls of whoever they meet with their indie pop/rock sound. The band even performed at CWU last November.

The band has one album, three EPs and most recently a single titled “Believer” to their name. “Believer” was released earlier this month while the Pieces We Are EP is their other most recent works. Pieces We Are was done in collaboration with Andrew Joslyn. Joslyn is a local native who is a violinist and composer who contributed to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s Grammy Nominated The Heist. One fan called Pieces We Are “Folkestral,” and we think that’s a pretty good description.

Kris Orlowski will be performing in the PNW in Portland on March 22 and at The Showbox in Seattle on April 12. The ‘Burg is giving away tickets to the Seattle show so be sure to pay attention to our social media for a chance to win!

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Shows of Note – Infected by Music

Infected+Mushroom+IM

Infected Mushroom is in a league of their own. The Israeli music duo creates music described as psytrance, psychedelic and dance.  The group is known for their consistent sound evolution and are a huge cult favorite in the Middle East. The band’s live shows feature guitars, live drums, vocals and usually a multi-media backdrop.

Infected Mushroom

Infected Mushroom

Together since 1998, Erez Aizen and Amit Duvdevani  released their first album as Infected Mushroom in 1991. The album titled The Gathering, included one of their more popular songs “Release Me.” Infected mushroom’s most recent album is titled Army of Mushrooms. Some claim that the duo sold out their psy-trance soul to dubstep but critics like Consequence of Sound’s Alex Young disagree.  Young said this about the album:

“Granted, two tracks on their newest LP, Army of Mushrooms, feature the downtempo beats and signature womp-womp bass sounds that immediately suggest EDM’s red-headed stepchild of a genre. Yet Infected Mushroom, the Israeli-born duo of Amit “Duvdev” Duvdevani and Erez Aisen, infuse their dubstep experiments with plenty of psychedelic touches and unexpected twists.”

Since their most recent LP, Infected Mushroom has released the single “See Me Now,” “Never Mind,” and two EPs, Friends on Mushrooms, Vol. 1 and 2.

Infected Mushroom will be performing in Wash. April 11 at The Showbox. The ‘Burg will be giving away a pair of tickets to see the electronic duo via our social media. Keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win!

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‘Burg Stuff – February DJ of the Month

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Chris Davis aka The Sparrow

Hometown:Vancouver, Wash.
High school: Union High School
Year: Senior
Age: 21
Major: History with an English minor
Favorite Color: Chris loves all colors equally
Favorite Food: The Freaking Shrimp Burrito
Favorite Song: “Get Lucky
Favorite Artist: Radiohead
Relationship Status: Single and Looking!
Twitter: @packerschris
No one knows that Chris ……”Wants to travel to outer space, sail the galactic seas and see the birth of a star”

Chris Davis has become  a valued member at The ‘Burg. Chris’s dedication and hard has led him to be selected by his piers as February DJ of the month. Always willing to talk music, Davis is a music lover from our own heart and a perfect fit at The ‘Burg.

Although Chris has only been a DJ since Fall quarter, his attention to detail and his finely tuned ear for indie-rock has made him an obvious pick for DJ of the month. His show is called “The Farmer’s Market” because he brings you the freshest picks of indie-rock The ‘Burg has to offer. Every Monday from 8-10 p.m., “The Farmer’s Market” is sure to bring out your inner hipster.  Davis is constantly in our music library looking through The ‘Burg’s racks of music for some gem that may have gone unnoticed by other DJs. Davis always plays current music and features upcoming artists and new album every week.  Congratulations to our resident indie expert Chris Davis on being selected as February DJ of the month!

 

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Throwback Thursday – March 1960

adam clayton

Please join us in saying Happy Birthday to Adam Clayton, who was born on March, 13th of 1960. Now you you might ask Who is Adam Clayton? Well, he is the bassist for one of the worlds biggest bands, U2. Clayton is best known for his bass playing on songs such as “New Year’s Day“, “Seconds“, “Bullet the Blue Sky“, and “With or Without You“.

Adam Clayton

Adam Clayton

As a part of U2, Clayton has won 22 Grammy Awards, and helped pave the way for an entire genre that we now call indie rock. From their humble beginnings as a small high school rock band in Dublin, Ireland, U2 went on to become one of rock music’s premier international bands. U2 has released 12 studio albums and are among the all-time best-selling music artists, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. In 2005, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone has labelled them the “Biggest Band in the World” and throughout their career they have campaigned for human rights and philanthropic causes, including Amnesty International, and the ONE/DATA campaigns.

U2 has inspired people not only with their music, but with their story. As a band they have gone from the bottom of the bottom, to the top of the top. Recently another layer of inspiration has been added with the release of a rejection letter that was sent to U2 Front-man Bono from RSO Records.The letter claims that the bands demo was “not suitable”, but the bad news didn’t keep the band down for long. U2 released its first public work, a three-song EP titled Three, in September 1979 and the rest is history. The band would go on to sign to Island Records and release their debut album Boy in 1980. U2′s story tells us that failure can be a step toward success and is a prime example of why you should never give up on your dream!

Oh and we thought that we should mention that this song also hit #1 on the UK charts, this month in 1987!

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Shows of Note – Get Lucky

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Ravers all over the Pacific Northwest are hoping to get lucky this year. The annual USC Events festival (Lucky 2014) will take place on Friday, March 14th this year, at the WaMu Theater in Seattle. This event has quickly become one of the biggest “must-attend” events for any EDM fan.

Diplo

Diplo

USC Events has reputation for putting on shows that don’t disappoint both in music and show production. Thousands will gather for Lucky to experience the trapeze artists, epic light shows and elaborate St. Patrick’s Day themed costumes that will accompany the EDM line-up.

Some of the Lucky lineup highlights include Diplo, Kill the Noise and Showtek. Diplo has excited many EDM fans and has garnered quite the following in the hip-hop scene as well. Be warned, a lot of twerking will ensue once Diplo takes the stage. Diplo, or the formally known Wesley Pentz has been on the scene since 2003 with Epistomology. 2012’s “Express Yourself” caught the attention of well…everybody. Since then Diplo has produced the Revolution (Remixes) EP in which the artwork is a fist made up of half-naked twerking women.

 

Kill the Noise

Kill the Noise

Kill the Noise also highlights the Lucky bill. The one man band made of Jake Stanczak specializes in drum and bass, dubstep and house.  Always sporting his baseball cap and skull emblazed bandana, the young producer gained a huge fan base before he even produced his first solo release, the Roots EP in 2010. Since 2010 he has produced Kill Kill Kill, a Roots Remixed EP, Black Magic and Black Magic Remixes.

Showtek

Showtek

Brothers, Wouter and Sjoerd Janssen, the two members of Showtek are sure to delight hardstyle and progressive fans alike at this year’s Lucky. Though their roots are in hardstyle they are slowly exploring the progressive side of EDM. With an alarmingly quick rise to fame, they’ve performed with David Guetta, Tiesto and Steve Aoki, along with other powerful EDM artists and are truly at the top of the electronic music scene. Check out their collaboration with Justin Prime, “Cannonball (Earthquake)” featuring Matthew Koma which was just released two days ago on iTunes.

The ‘Burg is giving away two pairs of Lucky 2014 tickets this Friday (3/7). Listen between 8 and 10 p.m. and again between 10 and midnight for a chance to get Lucky this March.

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Throwback Thursday – February 1965

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Before the name “Dre” was associated the headphones that hang around you neck or accompanied with the words “Beats By,” Dr. Dre was a revolutionary producer. Dre’s career has defined west coast sound and elevated the entire genre. Dr. Dre did this while discovering and premiering some of hip-hop’s biggest names. In a career that spans almost thirty years, the hip-hop legend has figuratively and literally changed the way we listen to music. Since he turned 49 on February 18th we thought it would be fitting to review how his career has truly shown us what “The Strength of Street Knowledge” means.

Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre

Dre began his career as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru, a group that performed electronic funk–almost a disco type music that would lay the ground work for early 1980′s rap. This group also included DJ Yella who would go on to join Dre in the controversial rap group N.W.A.. Dre and Yella would cross paths with a teenage Ice Cube  who was a member of a group called C.I.A. (Cru’ In Action). Dre, Yella and Ice Cube caught the attention of  local drug dealer Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright, who was looking to start a new rap group and capitalize on the west coast hip-hop fad and hopefully get out of the drug business.

This core group would go on to form N.W.A. (Ni***z Wit Attitudes) along with the addition of local rapper MC Ren. Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella would perform a lyrical assault that conjured images of the dirty street life of southern California. This would form an entire sub-genre known as “Gangsta rap.” N.W.A. is credited as one of the most important groups in the history of rap music. The group ran ruff shot on the music industry from 1986 to 1991, due to the explicit lyrics glorifying drugs, crime and lyrics many considered to be disrespectful to women. The group was banned from many mainstream radio stations. In spite of this, N.W.A. has sold over 10 million units of their debut album Strait Outta Compton, co-produced by Dr. Dre, with DJ Yella. The album has been viewed as the pioneering record of gangsta rap and it has been considered groundbreaking by music writers and had an enormous impact on the evolution of West Coast hip hop. In 1991, Dr.Dre left the group and formed the gangsta rap power-house Death Row Records. This would lead to the release of his solo debut The Chronic, which won a Grammy for Best Producer and for Best Rap Solo Performance for his song “Let Me Ride“. This album has become a land mark album and is revered as the “Dark Side of The Moon” of the rap world in the sense that it still charting and influences nearly every rap artist on the charts.

While at Death Row Records, Dre signed and produced many popular West Coast hip hop artists such as Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, MC Hammer, Nate Dogg , the rap group Tha Dogg Pound consisting of rappers Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, Soopafly. He also worked on production for Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC. For a brief point in time, Death Row was involved in a heated feud with rival record company Bad Boy Records owned by Sean “Diddy” Combs. This rivalry would be the start the of a West coast Vs. East coast feud and by the end of the 90s, two of hip-hop’s brightest stars, Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. were dead. Most, if not all of the signed artists departed from the Death Row after its demise following the murder of Shakur in 1996, including Dr. Dre.

In 1999, Dre released his album 2001 which won two more Grammys for Producer of the Year and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his song “Forgot About Dre“. That same year, he would win another Grammy for the work he did on “The Marshall Mathers LP,” the major label debut album of a rapper you might of heard of named Eminem. The decade after 1999, Dre took a role in discovering new talent such as 50 Cent. Most recently, he worked with Kendrick Lamar on his Grammy nominated album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” he also produced Eminem’s “MMLP2” along side Rick Ruben.

At the age of 49, Dr.Dre is his own empire and a force to be reckoned with in the music world. Dre has almost become a synonym for “top of the line” and with the emerging dominance of his Beats Audio brand and his Beats music streaming, he has elevated his empire status. In 2011, Dr. Dre was ranked as the third richest figure in the American hip hop scene by Forbes with a net worth of $250 million. Please join us in celebrating the birthday of the man, the artist, and the legend Andre Romelle Young better known as Dr. Dre.

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Fresh Tunes – Something Soft, Something Hard

Nothing+band

Close to the Glass
The Notwist

The-Notwist-Close-To-The-Glass-608x608Anyone can make electronic music. Every necessary bit of hardware or software, every bit of knowledge, every tip or trick or tutorial is available to everyone now- and for relatively little money. And with that ubiquity of knowledge and access to all the necessary tools comes a sort of over-saturation, “If everybody knows all the tricks, it’s no more magic” says Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk. So the game has now become one of separation; of being absolutely and totally unique among thousands of new artists. The Notwist has fully realized this shift in the electronic music paradigm and has crafted something that genuinely separates them from other artists with their ninth and newest album.

During the first moments of Close to the Glass, one gets the impression that this could just be another head-nodding rip off of electro from the 90s; an arpeggiated synthesizer texture embellished with random rings and beeps and a skittering snare beat. But then the vocals enter. The voice is untreated: no vocoder, no auto-tune, calmly speaking about hideous signs and something about screaming. There’s some strange subtle terror waiting underneath these tracks, something unexpected or unnoticed, or combination of sounds that shouldn’t theoretically work together when discussed soberly.

And that really is the greatest strength of this album- its ability to defy expectation. “Kong,” the third song, for example, would almost seem completely out of place on this album were it not for its development into an absurd and oddly cohesive mash of orchestral layers, acoustic guitar, electronic glittering, and raucous bass. The marriage of these elements, electronic or otherwise, imbues Close to the Glass with the magic Thomas Bangalter feels is lacking in much of recent music. Anyone can make electronic music- but few can make it like this.

Guilty of Everything
Nothing

a3943802535_10There’s a hot, twisting frustration and rage in those who feel disconnected from or overwhelmed by reality. Everything moves too fast and too slow, there’s nobody to talk to, there isn’t enough time, there’s energy with nowhere to go. “I’m caught between a beggar’s teeth,” sings Domenic Palermo of the band Nothing. The newest album from the Philadelphia quartet seems- to us at least-to be exploration of that frustration with detachment from a world out of time with one’s own rhythm. From this exploration, Nothing has made something dark, loud, and beautiful.

The landscape of each track is very similar; the vocals are treated as a musical instrument fully engulfed by the haze of incredibly loud ambient guitars, bass, and drums. Instead of lyrics that are heard, Palermo’s singing is more of a texture that is felt. It draws one in, trying to decipher the already cryptic lyrics Nothing has buried under heavy, leaden sonic layers. But perhaps that’s the message itself, trying to make sense of something that would be easy were it just a bit different. The themes in Guilty of Everything, then, are embodied by the music itself, a masterful and nuanced act on Nothing’s part.

But despite whatever nuance one discovers in the way Nothing has orchestrated Guilty of Everything, it’s important to remember that this band is loud. The tender, ambient moments give way to hysterical paroxysms of dissonance and consonance. Nothing sounds like they are collectively exorcising whatever demons of the past that may still haunt them. Even in their liner notes the quote, “To all things we’ve ever hated. To all things we’ve ever loved. Thanks for making this possible,” punctuates pages of lyrics juxtaposed with black and white pictures of a prison shower, a junkie spiking his vein, and other-almost ominous- photographs recreating bleary-eyed memories and recollections. We still don’t know entirely what Nothing is trying to tell us, but we are entirely sure it is important.

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