White Rabbits Interview (w/ Steve Patterson)

Aural States chats with White Rabbits’ vocalist and pianist Steve Patterson. Full interview after the jump.

Photo Credit Karen Chan/Spin.com
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White Rabbits overload & more

To cement White Rabbits in the position of our first fanboyish artist obsession, I just finished an interview with vocalist/pianist Steve Patterson. Look for it later tonight/tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: Check out our exclusive interview with vocalist/pianist Steve Patterson of White Rabbits here!

Meanwhile, after the jump, podcasting Glass Candy and free White Rabbits songs…

Check out free White Rabbits, new songs from their daytrotter session here.

Click here for Taxlo’s podcast of Glass Candy Live from Baltimore, 01.18.08

Scheduling your March

Cadence Weapon, Born Ruffians

Justice, DJ Mehdi, Fancy

Van Halen

(details after the jump)

Cadence Weapon/Born Ruffians

March 5th, Ottobar

In a bit of a head-scratcher, two Canadian groups with little more in common than release dates and nationality will be coming to the Ottobar on March 5th. Tickets, available through missiontix, are $8 (adv), $10 (day).

Cadence Weapon, hip hop artist from Edmonton, Alberta, will finally follow up his 2005 release Breaking Kayfabe with the much anticipated Afterparty Babies (Epitaph) due out on March 4th.

I saw a bit of the Cadence Weapon show at the Pitchfork Media Music Festival in July of 2007 – he put together a tight little performance, showcasing his vocals over minimal beats. To get a good example of the show I saw, give a listen to “Sharks” (stream over myspace). While hip hop doesn’t always translate in an outdoor venue, I’m looking forward to checking him out in the coziness of the Ottobar.

Born Ruffians, Photo credit: Timothy Saccenti

Born Ruffians, on the other hand, are somewhat precocious indie rockers from Toronto. They will be promoting their new LP Red, Yellow, Blue (Warp; also due out March 4th) this tour. Take a listen to their single “Foxes Mate for Life” here (stream; source: The Fader).

Justice, DJ Mehdi, Fancy
Sonar, March 9th
Tickets (ticketmaster): $30 (adv)


Paying $30 to go see something called the “Myspace Music Tour” feels dirty on a couple different levels. Unfortunately, I still would really love to go see this show, excessive cost and all.

Justice will be touring in support of their recent album [cross symbol] (Vice 2007). Being house artists from Paris, France begs comparison to Daft Punk. However, that feels a little trite to me. So I’ll say this: Justice are a little less robot, and a whole lot more dirt. Their music demands dancing. You can sample some of their original tracks, as well as remixes of other artists on their myspace page.

As an aside, these guys are pretty prodigious when it comes to remixes. They can claim the following artists (among many) as receiving their revisions: Britney Spears, Fat Boy Slim, Daft Punk, N*E*R*D, DFA 1979, Justin Timberlake, Klaxons…

What of the other two bands? DJ Mehdi, as another French house act, will certainly warm the crowd up for Justice. Fancy can be described in 5 words: French butt rock… starring women!

On the other hand, if that doesn’t sound good (or expensive enough) for you – you can alway pop across town that night to 1st Mariner Arena to catch Van Halen. Tickets absurdly run $49.50 – $125.

Review- Fiery Furnaces, Oranges Band, Thank You @ the Ottobar, Baltimore

Part of the reason the Fiery Furnaces are a live draw is that, unlike many touring artists out there, you are guaranteed a different show EVERY night. My last experience was more of a “miss” than a hit, which happens when an artist makes a decision on how to interpret their music. While I could appreciate the musical talent required to execute their show at DC’s the Black Cat last year, I really wasn’t enjoying it.

Luckily, this time around, I got the best of both worlds from a heavily funk and jazz-fusion influenced show at Baltimore’s Ottobar.

This show was well-attended relative to some Ottobar shows as of late, but the place should have been mobbed when it was actually only 50% full. Thank You provided the first opening set of the night, playing their distinct version of electronically-tinged noise-wave. Not my thing. I felt most of the songs got lost in themselves, no real momentum was obtained and no release to be had. Uninspiring post-punk dragged through the gutters of trance and electroclash. I think they could learn some lessons on where to take their sound and how from DC legends Q and Not U, and with some focus, could create a compelling body of work. But they need to tidy up their arrangements.

Next up were another, more well-known band of locals, the Oranges Band. A distinct contrast to the more technically complicated and experimental headlining Furnaces, and openers Thank You, Oranges prefer to play straight-ahead, unashamedly hooky indie-pop. They have become proficient at their craft, but there is one problem: so many other artists are in this stable that, unless you are a true prodigy or have some distinctive hook, you WILL get lost amidst the sea of others. Though infallibly catchy and easy to listen to, Oranges Band pushes no envelope and makes no real distinctive impact. But that’s ok tonight, because the Fiery Furnaces provide enough of it all to sate even the most cynical listener.

Let me preface this by saying that the Fiery Furnaces are some of the most talented musicians on the indie circuit today. They play music not as individual musicians, but rather a gestalt. With how much they change their songs on the fly when performing live, I am always surprised at how tightly they play. A true testament to their talent and work ethic.

The Furnaces live show is quite different from their CDs…to the delight of some and the chagrin of others. They approach their live performances as a chance to create art and deconstruct their own music, changing tempos, times and keys like so many dirty pairs of underwear. It seemed the Furnaces were listening to a heavy dose of funk judging by their interpretation last Friday night. A large portion of their setlist laid down heavy grooving funk beats and basslines. This contrasts favorably to the aforementioned Black Cat show where things were much closer to a fusion of spoken-word, free-style rap, trip-hop and acid jazz; technically complex but rather dense, detached and inaccessible. Their set this past Friday was definitely more cohesive and preserved more of the sugary hooks from their recorded material.

“Single Again” was delivered at a slower tempo (relatively) with more pop flavor and melodic vocals, faithful to the recorded material. “Evergreen” was a highlight as one of the most vulnerable and moving performances of the night. “The Philadelphia Grand Jury” and “Duplexes of the Dead” were infused with electrifying energy while remaining the closest resemblance to their recorded performances. What I think set this show above the previous one at the Black Cat was that Eleanor spent more time delivering melodic, tuneful vocals rather than the rapid-fire rapping she loves so much (while good, she’s got such a knock-out singing voice it pains me to see her let it sit unused). Matt’s keys and the rhythm also tended to gel much better at the Ottobar, probably because Matt reined in some of his more obtuse and avant-garde urges.

The Furnaces closed with one of their famed, monstrous medley tracks, assembling pieces of no less than 4 songs from their catalog (that I could discern) into one epic, lumbering giant of a finale. The sheer quality in execution of this feat at each live show is awe-inspiring to behold. And basically guarantees I will be front and center again for their next show, testing the waters and eagerly awaiting the next reimagining of their sound.

Photo Credit Tim Castlen

White Rabbit. I need rising sound…

I remember thinking, “There are way too many instruments on this stage right now. They must be hiding something; no talent, bad musicianship… it only remains to be seen.” I have never been more wrong in my life. White Rabbits has a huge sound, carefully crafted and under control. I was reminded of Hunter S. Thompson quoting Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

White Rabbit. I need rising sound… And when it comes to that fantastic note where the rabbit bites its own head off, I want you to throw that fuckin’ radio into the tub with me!

I’d like to think that White Rabbits found some inspiration in these words.

Read Aural State’s post for a complete review of the show. I intend to focus a little more on White Rabbits and what made them stand out so much on stage. Opening things up for White Rabbits were The Subjects: the perfect band to warm the crowd up. They were well-rehearsed and enjoyable to listen too, especially when they let the drummer take a crack at singing. I want to dispel the myth that you have to be an emotional tenor with an ornamental guitar — a guitar is not a handbag, kids — to front a rock band.

I already mentioned that I initially thought there were too many instruments on stage. My preference is to find economy in all things, but I was fairly open to the idea of a big band rock group. As White Rabbits set up, I noted two trap sets, two guitars, bass, and keys. For those of you keeping count, that’s a hockey team right there. My curiosity was further piqued when the keyboard player dragged out a tack piano and a Nord Electro 2, the backup choice of Rhodes and Hammond B3 players the world over. The instrument is a mark of good taste (I have one in my living room right now). I had some high expectations for this player. While not revealing himself as a melodic player, he proved to have fantastically quick hands and excellent timing. Although I am not a fan of screaming, his vocals were generally spot on and I would say very authentic for the style of music.

Playing with two drummers on stage can prove to be rhythmically disastrous. White Rabbits pulled off the trick exceedingly well, however, proving how well-rehearsed they are as a group. Even though I was initially wary of the concept, I would now have to say that having two drummers is an essential part of this ensemble. On the other hand, I couldn’t see any justification for having two guitars in the group even though neither of them were at all shabby.

The glue that holds this many musicians together is endless hours of rehearsal and it shows that White Rabbits has put in the time. Each individual was absolutely comfortable throughout the show, moving effortlessly between instruments and movements. This careful rehearsal also shows up in the quality of the arrangements that start with a simple rhythmic or melodic idea and build to a level of excited tension and release.

It was refreshing to hear a band go after some sinister sounding music with gypsy minor keys and the unusual but tasteful calypso rhythm stylings. I would love to hear this band slow it down a little and take on something a little more sophisticated. The cover of “Maggie’s Farm” was a hit with the crowd, but I’d love to hear them try “All the Right Bullets” by Tom Waits. They could really stretch on that tune.

Review- Walkmen, White Rabbits, the Subjects @ the Ottobar, Baltimore

images.jpegIn short:

The Subjects sit at the intersection of Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. Capably and entertainingly, but also forgettably unoriginal save a few surprise songs.

The Walkmen couldn’t stand up to the White Rabbits’ performance. Vocals were off, flat and uneven for almost the whole night. Also, they desperately needed to tune. Points for effort and stage presence, but they delivered a show that was maybe 50% as interesting and engaging as the Rabbits. The sound guys pumped up their levels to try and match the Rabbits’ sound, but amplifying something without dynamism doesn’t make it dynamic. Check out our blogosphere neighbor, Butterteam’s interview with the Walkmen regarding their newest material and label changes in their future right here.

The White Rabbits killed. Absolutely phenomenal set, and the best new opener I’ve seen in nigh on 3 years. Read the rest…

Interview: The Rosebuds (w/ Ivan Howard)

IMG_2268Aural States: What is your background and history together? Is Rosebuds your first project?

Ivan Howard: We started playing together because we were bored and wanted to do something way different and fun (apart from the serious art scene in our circle) and it WAS fun. So much fun. And everybody loved the music and got behind us and by our third show, we decided we were onto something real.

AS: Much of your music is drenched with a dreamy, romantic haze and deals with themes of the heart and relationships. Others you can pinpoint broad, even political messages or commentary. Where do you draw your inspiration from for songs? Do the relationship songs have any direct parallel with yours, either past or present?

IH: Every song is different and sometimes people see the meaning and sometimes they invent their own but it’s okay with us because our purpose is to impart music and stories that mean something to people (whether about love or politics or something else) and it’s everybody else’s job to figure out where that lies in the context of their own lives.

AS: What bands have proven to be major influences on your style and sound?

IH: Too many too list.

AS: What bands are you currently listening to and excited by?

IH: Bon Iver, Chromatics, The Loners, Salt n Pepa

AS: How has your experience been on Merge Records?

IH: They’re the best record label in the world and that’s coming from a qualified source because I’ve been a fan of the label for so long (way before we were signed) and, now that we’re on the label, even better. They’re very smart and I have learned a lot from them about music–making choices based on instinct instead of a projected bottom line. For us, then, we make choices based on what we want, instead of what we think people will buy, and Merge keeps putting out our records because they feel the same way.

AS: Have you gotten a chance to work with any label mates like Arcade Fire?

IH: Yeah, we play with other Merge bands often and it’s a lot of fun because we’re all working on our own formula for music but we are all a part of the same family. Like a lot of weird brothers, sisters, and cousins who have different talents or interests but who live in the same house.

AS: Could you briefly recount how you came to be signed so early in your career? Do you think this significantly affected your development as artists?

IH: We recorded a demo in our friend’s bedroom and we thought, “This is great! We’ll send it to Merge and they’ll sign us!” Just then I got out of school and we moved to Raleigh and, though our music did NOT fit in with what was cool in Raleigh at the time, a couple bands from here (The Loners and Ashley Stove) took to us and we started playing shows all the time. So, between sending our demo and being close enough to Merge for them to know about us, we did get signed pretty quickly. As artists, we went through a weird patch because we were a new band all of the sudden in league with other, more established bands like Spoon (who, at that point had been touring for 10 years). So, it was intimidating and probably made us more scared than confident. Just normal growing pains I guess.

AS: Night of the Furies takes your music into a darker, moodier and more mysterious realm than your earlier work. Could you say a little about the overall theme of the album, about the man and his encounter with the Furies?

IH: It’s about knowing something is about to happen. That can seem very ominous (maybe dark) but also exciting. So we tried to capture those two feelings. The man you’re referring to is the man in the short story on the inside of the record. The relationship that unfolds between him and the goddess is all about waiting too. Something HAS to happen, and we know it is about to happen, but we can’t say what it will be… Only that it will be BIG. So there’s a lot of trepidation in the story but, like I said, a lot of exciting tension. We tried to make the music a mirror of that story.

AS: Which tracks have you been especially happy about?

IH: We produced this record ourselves in our house so we’re happy about all the songs because they are the most honest manifestations of what we were hearing in our heads.

AS: Your style has really focused and matured through each of your releases. How do you feel you have progressed and changed as a band from your first album to the present?

IH: I don’t know. I don’t know if matured is the right word. We look at each record as an individual art project so we are always able to change and the next release may sound really hasty and loose, so I’m not sure if maturity suits us yet. We’re still a young band.

AS: You are only playing a handful of dates at the beginning of this year. What are your plans for the rest of the year? Are you planning on touring more, taking time off or going into the studio?

IH: All of those. We are working on more dates now and we’re recording new material so we’ll have some sort of release and tour this year and hopefully some time off too.

AS: What, if anything, do you have in mind (themes, songs) for your next release and future projects?

IH: Our next record is going to be a coming-of-age story about loss and redemption. No, I’m just fucking with you. We don’t know yet but we’re working on it.