Down the Vine Vol. 3

By popular demand, Jason and I filmed a little demonstration of the Radio Zither and the Sidrassi Organ mentioned in our last update.

Behold, and give major kudos to Peter Blasser for his genius work. More videos and pictures including of Karl’s work after the jump.

Radio Zither Demonstration by Jason Willett & Greg Szeto from Greg Szeto on Vimeo.

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Review: The Rumble Strips @ the Black Cat Backstage (2008.10.05)

All photos: Klea Scharberg

The Rumble Strips

My take:

I mention something about The Rumble Strips sounding like “British indie-rock” and drummer Matthew Wheeler sticks up his nose. “I wouldn’t say that”, he protests. I throw a few more titles at him, but still, he shakes his head. “We are nothing.” (Ed note: NIHILISTS!)

Well, for the sake of description, genre seems almost imperative. The English tongue of vocalist Charlie Waller sure sounds indie-rock like that of Jon Fratelli or Alex Turner, but Wheeler’s on point- they really aren’t that one-dimensional.

The poppy lyrical melodies collide with an erratic progression that is anything but lackluster. Playing tracks from their one and only release, Girls and Weather, a theme is carried out throughout their set, but doesn’t bore. It never feels repetitive or unoriginal. The band stops, leaving wide-eyed Waller singing in between Sam Mansbridge’s bang on the orange drum. Its good clean sound is almost “simple”, with the common instrumentation of a multi-member group- drums, bass, keys…the usual. The lack of electronica, I find, is relieving in a year that loves dance and experimental noise. You can’t help but tap your feet to its undemanding sound.

The Rumble Strips

It has been a long while since Mighty Mighty Bosstones have even come into my thought process, but thanks to Tom Gorbutt on the sax, it’s hard not to. “Time” was absolutely my favorite song of the night. The element of ska is just distinct enough to give The Rumble Strips that beat you can dance to. On tracks like “Oh Creole” and “Cowboy”, the Vampire Weekend soulful pop is pleasing to the ears, belting out an anthem of a broken heart, as the intensity builds and relaxes with their harmonies.

Greg’s take:

So I went into this show excited, high off the fumes of Nick Cave’s impressive stage presence and charisma.  A polished veteran character, delivering highly theatrical, yet extremely engaging rock in the grand sense of things.  To completely flip-flop, the Rumble Strips were touring on the heels of their first release, yet to be truly vetted in the Americas, yet certainly up-and-comers in the UK. Read the rest…

Review: Moodgadget Synchronicity Tour vs. Girl Talk Tour-Taking notes on the underground, and the Pop.

All Girl Talk Photos: Josh Sisk

At 16 I hit a crisis—I walked away from the classical training I began 10 years earlier. I didn’t give it up entirely, but I decided I wasn’t going to pursue becoming a classical cellist as a career. Very quickly the musical void left by the absencesof practicing multiple hours a day was soon filled by electronic music. I was introduced to avant-garde electronic music at an early age; so making sounds on the computer didn’t seem odd while all my friends were out starting punk bands. I eventually fell into Electronic Dance Music, and I never looked back.

My take on popular music may be somewhat unique, given that I moved from the more esoteric to the more mainstream, not the other way around. To make a generalization the more vanguard electronic acts, though they may be pushing into new territory, are also the lesser-attended live acts. The more trite, derivative acts, though lacking in that exploratory nature, are the larger draws. I think it is safe to say that this generally holds true for any genre, and I’d get into the realm of speculation if I were to attribute reasons to why this happens. But here are some concrete examples from last week. Read the rest…

Down the Vine Vol. 2

This time, we’ve got audio clips from new arrivals for our Down the Vine update! Thanks Jason!

(TELEPHONE: 410 235 4500)

TUES. – SAT. 12 – 9
SUN. & MON. 12 – 6

hello there,
here’s some blurbs of about 1% of what’s come through our door this week, just to make a few points in space. but first i will mention an upcoming true vine performance:

live at the true vine
saturday october 18th
daniel will start at 3:00 p.m. during open store hours
when he will stop, nobody knows
there is no admission charge


Read the rest…

Interview & Review: Robert Walter Trio @ the 8×10

Robert Walter Trio (Robert Walter – keyboards, James Singleton – upright bass, Johnny Vidacovich – drums) played an exciting set at the 8X10 populated by songs from Super Heavy Organ (2006) and their new album Cure All (2008) as well as a few surprises. Robert schlepped his chopped B3 and Fender Rhodes wired to a Proco Rat 2 and a Maxon analog delay. James Played his upright all night and occasionally a Boomerang for looping effects.

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Interview: Drew Pompa (Blank Artists, Detroit)

I saw the Blank Artists tour back in August at the Hexagon. You can read about it here.

Blanks Artists is at the vanguard of Detroit’s underground electronic music scene. Forget the bloated Richie Hawtin Contakt parties, or the overpriced Underground Resistance nights, these guys take techno back to the way it was–raw, DIY, and uncompromising.

Drew Pompa’s set anchored that night back in August. He’s a fun DJ to watch–he gets lost in the groove just like the audience. Fortunately Baltimore feels like home for Drew (I guess all post-industrial, crime ridden cities are the same), and he’ll be making the rounds again this Friday, the 17th, for the October edition of Baltimore’s own More or Less party at the Hexagon.

Between spinning, and running a label, Drew is a busy man, so I shot him a couple question via email. Read the rest…

Photos & Review: Yelle, Funeral Party, kap10kurt @ 9:30 Club


Yelle was positively magnetic.  An effortless and endearing performance that all peddlers of pop should rightfully take notice of.  Not content to merely go through choreographed dance routines and over-the-top, carefully orchestrated sexual sub-and-super-texts, she came across as more than genuine, effusing a true  sense of joie de vivre that was as infectious as it was effective.  She seemed at home on the stage, romping to and fro, covering nearly every inch of the stage and keeping plenty of contact with the audience, frequently serenading lucky members of the first few rows.  Her charming and sassy saunters, come-hither dances baited with bits of coyness broke down barriers right and left, swiftly morphing the crowd into a sea of good vibes and fevered dancing.

Her live performance consists of Yelle singing, dancing and even occasionally drumming or breaking out into air guitar, a moment more than reminiscent of the naivete of bedroom adolescence.  The energy is amplified by a live drummer and electronics (courtesy of Grand Marnier), both of whom do double-duty as crowd hypers.  She already has a sizable stable of bangers, crowd-movers and floor-shakers from 2007′s Pull Up.  As expected, “A Cause des Garcons” and “Je Veux Te Voir” hit the hardest in a fantastic set that found a perfect balance between French electro and saccharine pop.

Also notable were Yelle’s openers.  Both Funeral Party and kap10kurt delivered high-impact sets.  Funeral Party’s dance-punk often hit high-quality grooves in the vein of the Faint, but kap10kurt took the prize as best opener with their more undiluted take on electro, spliced with a moderate dose of 8-bit samples and loops courtesy of a synth-tar.  The highlight of their set was the live looping of an audience member’s vocals into the chorus “It’s electric.”  But enough hot air, click through to see the photos from the night!

Read the rest…

Je suis tres excite.

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MP3: Yelle – Les Femmes (Acoustic & Live on Fair Game)

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MP3: Yelle – Tristesse / Joie (Acoustic & Live on Fair Game)

Yelle plays 9:30 Club tonight, with Funeral Party (LA) & kap10kurt (NYC).  I dug up some live session acoustic renditions of two songs that have boiled my expectations to fever pitch.  The acoustic version of “Tristesse/Joie” is a lingeringly downtempo, smoke-filled lounge gem. Don’t forget to check out our interview before you head down tonight.

Interview: Yelle

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MP3: Yelle – Tristesse/Joie

Yelle is France’s latest international export.

Dripping with pop and style and inescapably catchy music, she is everything that a pop star should be.  She puts the majority of American pop to shame, like an adult telling the kids to go home and do their homework.

Her densely layered, electro-infused pop is hardly the disposable kind that is churned out over modern American airwaves, which probably explains her meteoric ascent.  In a scant few years, she has broken into innumerable music markets around the world.  She finally brings a full-fledged tour to the States, dropping by University of Maryland College Park’s WMUC and DC’s famed 9:30 Club on Monday, Oct 11.

I was lucky enough to have a few minutes to pick Yelle’s brain.

Aural States- Describe your background and history with music? You come from a musical family, correct? Read the rest…

Evangelicals, Parenthetical Girls @ Rock and Roll Hotel

The Evangelicals

Photos: Evangelicals, Greensboro NC (right); Parenthetical Girls, Portland OR (below)

Coming all the way from Oklahoma, Evangelicals finally made a trip back to DC. Fog machines and neon spotlights in tow- maybe the fact that we’re in the month of October isn’t the only reason it feels like Halloween. I noticed a Jack-O-Lantern resting on a stand behind the white-wife-beat-ed bassist. Spooky trans overlapping hard-rock guitar, echoing into each other to bring you out of your element: the vocals of Josh Jones are distinct, but fade out and bleed into synth-y trails. (Think the bastard child of MGMT and Panda Bear).

The entire week before the show, I had ”Skeleton Man” on repeat, digging the catchy intro tapering off into a more psychedelic conclusion. Live, they do it justice, but unfortunately, it follows the recorded version almost to a T. Towards the end of their set, the energy really picked up. ”Another Day” was played with a lot of instrumental breaks (props to Todd Jackson on his performance here), progressing in an unexpected way. The set resolutely ended with a bang. Their latest album, The Evening Descends is definitely one I enjoy and recommend. Although they didn’t surprise me, they surely did not disappoint. Fulfilling my expectations is just fine. Evangelicals stick to what works.

What I found in their opening band, however, was something innovative and staggering. Read the rest…

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