When Paul Williams turned up on last year's Daft Punk album a generation of folks now in their forties wondered . . . he's still around? For the guys in Daft Punk, it was the rock opera "Phantom of the…
It takes a set of cojones for a singer-songwriter to name his latest album “Balls,” especially when that singer is Griffin House, who is best known for love songs and introspection and not joking around.
“Certain people have ideas about what a musician is and isn’t supposed to do,” he says. “If you want people to take you seriously, you’re supposed to create this intrigue, almost not be yourself. And there’s no title that could explain my personality or sense of humor other than ‘Balls.’ ” (Actually, the name comes from his childhood, in a story too convoluted for this article.)
This is the tour that never ends,” says singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter of her current tour supporting “Songs from the Movie,” her January 2014 album of greatest hits arranged for the singer and a full orchestra. Because it involves arranging a different orchestra for each city, whether it’s Los Angeles, Pensacola or Glasgow, Scotland, it’s not the usual round of bus and plane rides from city to city.
“I see the (orchestral tour) as having a life that goes on … past the horizon. It’s not timed to anything. It exists as long as orchestras invite us to come and present it.”
Just over a year ago, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the 17-year-old New Zealander known as Lorde, dropped her first single, “Royals,” into the swirling maelstrom of pop culture. Maybe it was the song’s minimal aesthetic matched with its gospel-like chorus, maybe it was the critique of pop music itself contained in the lyrics, or maybe it was because it was so damn catchy — using the most basic of chord progressions — but overnight Lorde was everywhere, and she hasn’t really misstepped yet. She appears at the Santa Barbara Bowl this Thursday, and if audience videos of her tour are an indication, the scene will be one of teen hysteria. In lieu of that, let’s quickly examine how Lorde dominated the charts and pop culture in the short span of a little over a year, while hovering above the excesses of the Mileys, Iggys and the Nickis out there.
Her manager Scott Maclachlan discovered her at age 12, covering Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue” at a school talent show, and started to work with her on material. Four years later, this thoughtful, well-read goth team had produced “The Love Club EP,” a collection that came out fully formed, with no fumbling around trying to find an identity or in thrall to obvious influences.
Thurston Moore is tireless. Since the end of his marriage to Kim Gordon and by extension the end of Sonic Youth, he’s just as busy as he ever was, forming and disbanding experimental bands, guest appearing on several records, including a black metal band’s, and working on a new album that just came out, “The Best Day.” He’s touring with the band that made that album, which includes Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley on drums, Nought’s James Sedwards on guitar, and Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine on bass, and they’ll be coming to SOhO on Thursday, along with another classic ’90s band, Sebadoh.
For those surprised by the acoustic chamber music of 2010’s Beck-produced “Demolished Thoughts,” this is a return to the explorations of drone, Krautrock repetition and noise of Mr. Moore’s other works.
Just a few weeks after the Eighteenth Street Lounge club opened in Washington D.C., Rob Garza walked through its doors to the sounds of “¡guas de MarÁo” by Antonio Carlos Jobim coming from the DJ booth, and he knew he had found his new home. He also found the lounge’s co-owner Eric Hilton, whom he would soon team up with to DJ and make music under the moniker Thievery Corporation. On their new album “Saudade” (released in April on ESL Music, the duo’s label), they return to the bossa nova rhythms of their early days and have produced what is for the band a very straight-ahead album filled with songs. They’ll be bringing this new work and their dub-heavy back catalog to the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday.
“We feel this album is a kind of palate-cleanser before our next sonic expedition,” Mr. Garza says. “It started with me and Eric in the studio trying to make a few songs in this genre and then at one point we thought, ‘Why don’t we just make a whole record that goes back to our bossa nova and Brazilian influences?’
Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rackettes may sound like they grew up playing the beer-soaked barrooms of Memphis, but in reality this group hails from Melbourne, Australia. You'd never know that from their songs, one of which, "Love Letter," got…
Race riots in the summer. Natural disasters. An endless war that keeps sucking us in. Political turmoil. While the state of the world has a late ’60s/early ’70s vibe to it, what’s missing in this comparison is the music. Where’s the rock and pop to match the times? Where’s our Sly Stone or our Marvin Gaye? Is it just about being “Happy” like Pharrell Williams says?
That is what makes The Last Internationale stand out in a field of abstract or commodity-based lyrics, and they are set to rock Velvet Jones this Tuesday. That title — the name of the French left-wing anthem — should give away their political stance and when they took the stage last month at “Late Night with David Letterman” they brought tasty licks from guitarist Edgey Pires, solid beats from Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine), and the growling, authoritative vocals of Delila Paz. The song was “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Indian Blood” the lead song of their debut album “We Will Reign.”
The venues get bigger but the friendship between Iration and Rebelution remains just as strong as ever. The two bands go back to their days playing keggers on Isla Vista’s Del Playa, and now Iration is opening for Rebelution’s return to the Bowl. It’s the bands’ third tour together.
Like Rebelution, Iration plays sunshine reggae, positive vibe music. With three albums and three EPs under their belt, they haven’t risen to the same heights as their friends, but the two bands have a symbiotic relationship.
They may call Rebelution’s genre “sunshine reggae” and it may appear that the band is as laid back as a beach barbecue, but there’s very little rest time for these guys. The band averages 120 shows a year, not including travel dates, according to Marley D. Williams, their bass player, with tonight’s Santa Barbara Bowl concert just one of those dates.
“We’re really hustling right now, trying to take advantage of every opportunity we’ve got,” he says. “We have to have a personal life too. The thing that we got from UCSB, apart from our degree, you learn to consolidate things. Two birds with one stone. That’s how our recording process came down to Miami and Burbank.”