Live Review: Mahjongg @ the Talking Head (2009.04.28)


Mahjongg, Live in Chicago

Four men approach the stage- setting up a drum set, keyboards and a sound machine, the lanky lead vocalist straps on an electric guitar behind a standing microphone, setting a loop that skips like a broken VHS tape. So starts the captivating metamorphosis of Mahjongg.

Read the rest…

Album Review: Elvis Perkins in Dearland – S/T (XL Recordings)


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Doomsday

After many attempts to categorize the folk genre, I have found it impossible to pigeonhole such a broad spectrum of music. Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan may have paved the way for the male vocalist, but the breed of folk sound has evolved with popular taste.

In his first release since Ash Wednesday’s debut in 2007, Elvis Perkins released his sophomore album on March 10 2009, titled after his live band: Elvis Perkins in Dearland.  Although the record drops traces of indie folk rock influences, the singer-songwriter leaves plenty of room for the spoken word. His lyrics flow more in the form of poetry than verse-refrain, marinating in tender prose of allusion and symbolism:

Read the rest…

Live Review: Asobi Seksu @ Rock and Roll Hotel (2009.03.28)

asobi-seksu-1Photo credit: Fiz

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Asobi Seksu – Familiar Light from Hush (2009)

A few weeks ago, I loaded Hush into my media player and the delicate voice of Japanese Yuki Chicudate began to fill my bedroom with dreamy trailing synth and modest ruptures of rhythmic drum. Her lyrics were intricate and poetic—uttered in angelic speech, dominant but not overbearing. Tracks fluctuated between sedated, down-tempo melodies to avant-garde like that of Chairlift’s indie pop.

I pictured delicate rendition with composed deliverance, anticipating a show that could, quite possibly, trigger tears. Finally, I’m standing face to face with the foursome in a packed Rock and Roll Hotel in DC, but what’s to come in the live performance I am not prepared for in the least.

Read the rest…

One Track Mind: David Byrne & Dirty Projectors – “Knotty Pine”


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: David Byrne & Dirty Projectors – Knotty Pine

Time-honored new wave icon David Byrne (Talking Heads) joins forces with contemporary experimentalist Dave Longstreth, also known as Dirty Projectors, to release the recording “Knotty Pine” for The Red Hot Organization’s Dark Was The Night.

Read the rest…

Interview / Exclusive Audio: Sri Aurobindo

sri-aurobindo-andy-cookCheck our world premiere download of the first track off Sri Aurobindo’s upcoming debut full-length. Catch them live tomorrow, Jan 30th @ Sonar; they are up first on the Club stage at 9PM.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Sri Aurobindo – Nobody’s Child from the forthcoming full-length

Some address the genre of psychedelia as a treasure of the past- best left alone. Crucial individuals of Sixties counterculture set the bar for Rock ‘N Roll- that tripped out, feel good groove of peace and naked people. But just as other breeds have, this acid-rock can evolve too, and Sri Aurobindo (pictured right, credit: Andy Cook) are right on track. Scheduled to play the first day of our 1 year anniversary bash (Aural States Fest) this Friday night, Brandon Arinoldo, Danny Chenault, Mike Furniere, and Mike Romano met me on an icy Sunday night in Hampden to let us in on the soon to be released, self-titled album and what to expect at the show this weekend: conscious, free-flowing Bohemians spreading the good vibes of avant-garde psychedelia.

Aural States: How did you all meet? What’s the story behind your collaboration?

Read the rest…

Album Review / Audio: Deleted Scenes – Birdseed Shirt (What Delicate Recordings)


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Deleted Scenes – Fake IDs

Hailing from Olney, Maryland, Deleted Scenes’ second album, Birdseed Shirt, debuted just after the turn of the new year and seemed to be the talk of the town before it.  The latest “it” thing crowned by DC’s new media, Dan Scheuerman, Matt Dowling, Chris Scheffey and Brian Hospital lead off the album with distorted guitar and solid drums, developing the promising opener “Turn To Sand” into dirty buzzing alternative rock not dissimilar to Spoon’s foot stomping Gimme Fiction.  “Fake IDs” and “Take My Life” also drip wet with grungy reverb and catchy vocals that manage to flow one after the other while remaining unique amongst each other. Read the rest…

2008 Wrap-Up (Alexa) – A Personal, Anachronistic Best Tracks of 2008

Editor’s Note: Each of the writers from Aural States was given free-reign to make an optional year-end post, filled with lists, oped, whining, whatever…this is what one came up with:

2008 has been a life-changing year for me in many ways, especially music. I remember being very intimidated by any genre that pushed experimental or noise and now it’s what I live for. Every season, new styles come back around from previous decades: saddle shoes, bell-bottoms, and grungy flannel shirts. Our generation is the melting pot of the past. Can’t we say the same for music?

And with the rapid advances in technology it’s only getting better through sampling and digitally modified sound. I guess that is my biggest realization this year—If music is sequential and cumulative then every vibration is the offspring of this movement of time and each second is a new opportunity for the creation of sound. Everything is possible at the present moment. We may find some to be more pleasing to the ear, to the brain, but it is only natural that we embrace it. We must celebrate all that is euphonic and aural.

Here are my picks of the most important tracks for my 2008 (Ed Note: Some tracks are not from 2008, and we know that.  Thanks). Have a great New Year! Read the rest…

Review: Chairlift @ Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (2008.12.04)

Chairlift @ Triple Rock in Minneapolis, MN

Chairlift @ Triple Rock in Minneapolis, MN

Photo credit: Heidi Holzem

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3: Chairlift – Evident Utensil

I wait outside Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, observing a few peacoat-ed young crowded together in an attempt to light their Camel Filters, trying to distinguish hot breath from cigarette smoke.

I’m usually not that hyped up during the holidays, but DC in the winter is hard to resist—

bare branches woven with lights and red ribbon. There was just this warmth radiating from the historic synagogue that had an intense effect on the performances of the night.

From where I am sitting, I notice a string of translucent Papier-mâché bulbs that hang above the stage, changing from red to blue to yellow and back again, reflecting rainbow beams across an enlarged Star of David: all of it nothing short of an Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Yeasayer welcomes Chairlift on tour—that new indie-pop band from the Nano-chromatic iPod commercial. Read the rest…

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…

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…

Older Posts >