Amid the torrent of last week's Freak-Weekin', Ponychasin', St. Vinnied music coverage, you'd be forgiven if you missed the news about local dance-rocking indie troupe Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes: They celebrated the release of their Kid Tiger with a show at Exit/In and a 24-hour Livestream of them chilling with Nashville pals. In her pick for the aforementioned release show, contributor Jewly Hight described Tiger as being full of "hooky, synth-laced, tautly arranged dance-rock songs."
Among those synth-laced dance-rock songs is the four-and-a-half-minute "Sun Goes Out," for which Ellsworth and his Lakes have a brand-new video. Directed by local musician/photo-and-video man Joshua Black Wilkins, the clip (which debuted Friday via Esquire) features footage of a young lady dancing around on inline skates while jamming to a cassette — ostensibly a Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes cassette, but I'm only seeing Kid Tiger available digitally, on vinyl or as a CD, so it must be a bootleg. Anyway, watch above.
Miniature Tigers seem to be undergoing a subtle, long-game transformation. All four of their LPs — including the forthcoming Cruel Runnings, appropriately recorded in Jamaica and slated for release May 27 — could be filed broadly under the heading “indie pop.” But the quirky, guitar-based pop numbers of 2008’s Tell It to the Volcano and 2010’s Fortress (see a sampling above) gave way to the gleaming, libidinous electro-pop of 2012’s Mia Pharaoh, which, in addition to an exceptionally silly title, sported a lead-off track by the name of “Sex on the Regular.” Runnings (get a taste after the jump) sees the Tigers pushing the needle even further down the sexy dance-pop dial, with big patches of New Wave, R&B and straight-up bubblegum pop peeking through on songs like “Used to Be the Shit.” And in millennial-friendly fashion, it’s not without its irony-tinged nostalgia: “Our love was warm, like a VHS tape of Aladdin,” sings frontman Charlie Brand. “Now our love’s so cold, laserdisc of Cruel Intentions.” Bear Hands and Total Slacker also appear on tonight’s bill.
Tonight's show at The High Watt starts at 9 p.m. and costs $12. If you're in the mood for something a little [pop] punkier, The So-So Glos will play The End (see Itoro Udoko's pick here). Also, New Wave founding father Gary Numan will play Mercy Lounge; read staffer Adam Gold's interview with Numan here.
So the moderately anticipated Lady Gaga SXSW keynote speech was a disappointment yesterday. And not just because Gaga didn't make her entrance into the about-halfway-full, sterile downtown Hilton ballroom dressed like a pig roasting on a spit, as she did for her junk-food sponsored SX gig at Stubb's BBQ the night before. (Instead, she hit the hall dressed like a modern-day Marie Antoinette in what looked like a puffy wedding gown fashioned out of lace and down comforters, with platinum dreadlocks to match.) The speech was disappointing because it wasn't a speech at all, but rather a run-of-the-mill Q&A with former MTV News and current Fuse News guy John Norris.
Aside from whatever time went in to designing and garbing up in that outfit (which made the singer look like a head floating in a cloud of crumpled wrapping paper from Crate & Barrel when shown in close-ups on the video monitors), Gaga really didn't have to put a whole lot of time and effort into preparing for this, which is even more of a letdown in light of Dave Grohl's job-well-done when he did last year's keynote, or Bruce Springsteen's orator's masterclass the year before — both those guys clearly put a lot of thought into their speeches. I wanted to see something as special and unique as that; I can watch a softball interview with Lady Gaga anytime. And was it ever a softball interview, with Norris — who, with his frosted, swooping, Vintage Bieber hair, looked unintentionally more ridiculous than his Q&A subject ever intentionally has — gushing and truckling at every aspect of Lady Gaga's very existence, in between bouts of Terry Gross-style naval-gazing, opining and anecdote-sharing. (We don't care how many shows YOU saw at the Roseland in the '80s, John.)
Friday is when SXSW starts to find its rhythm, the streets flooding with the largest crowds they're going to see, lines stretching for a block apiece and audiences reaching fever pitch at show after show. It could be that the biggest news item of SXSW Friday was that perpetual troublemaker Tyler, the Creator nearly incited a full-on riot.
But for your old pals at the Cream — who caught Against Me!, Reigning Sound, Fucked Up, Obnox and Protomartyr, among others — the best trend was that everywhere we turned, we saw a little bit of Nashville.
Well, the headline of SXSW Thursday may very well have been Lady Gaga’s Doritos-branded showcase at Stubb’s, for which “she was carried onto the stage trussed to a horizontal pole in black underwear, looking like she was a pig roasting on a spit.” Which sounds like it was … lovely. But there are great shows and weird, special moments tucked in every corner of SXSW, and among them yesterday were top-notch sets from Dum Dum Girls, Real Estate and Potty Mouth, a poignant moment from OFF! frontman Keith Morris, and a collaboration between The Midgetmen, Melissa Etheridge and Diarrhea Planet.
Yes, that last part is true.
In honor of the anime classic Akira showing midnight this weekend at The Belcourt, here's a video of clips set to Kanye West's "Stronger," with the vintage Kanye video below for comparison. As music-vid homages go, it sure beats this one.
You may recall that 88:88, the 2012 album from purveyor of evocative electronic soundscapes Matt Pusti, aka Makeup and Vanity Set, grew out of a collaboration with filmmaker Joey Ciccoline. Pusti's initial brief was to score Ciccoline's sci-fi short, but the characters' world took on a life of its own and evolved into a full-length album, a movie for your ears that began where the film left off. Earlier this week, Pusti and Ciccoline announced that they're working together on a new project, but this time, the creative relationship is reversed. The forthcoming Makeup and Vanity Set album, Wilderness, revolves around a dystopian backstory in which a brother tries desperately to find a cure for his sister's mysterious illness. Working with screenwriter Daniel Shepherd, cinematographer Blake McClure (whose work you've probably seen in many places, but most definitely on Comedy Central's Drunk History shorts), and an enthusiastic cast, Ciccoline is turning the story into a film, Eidolon.
88:88 was made with zero budget, and turned out to be pretty impressive. To make the Eidolon/Wilderness project as rich and immersive as possible, they've launched a Kickstarter to fund production and release costs. There are some sweet incentives on offer, ranging from copies of the finished product and associate producer credits to actual software files from the production. If you ever wanted to learn how MAVS puts a track together, or how Ciccoline composites his effects shots, here's your chance to go straight to the source. The campaign runs through April 11, shooting begins in May, and the album and film are slated for release in the fall.
Sadly, the biggest news of SXSW Wednesday was a terrible late-night car accident that reportedly left two dead and 23 injured near The Mohawk on Red River. Thankfully, Team Cream and all of our Nashvillian associates remain safe and sound, but our thoughts are with those affected.
NPR's showcase at Stubb's on Wednesday night served as a sort of a de facto kickoff for the week's big-name events, with a bill that would seem curiously incongruous were it not for the fact that all five acts have one thing in common: NPR loves to sing their praises. Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, art-pop star St. Vincent, R&B songstress/erstwhile chart-topper Kelis, post-punk Brits Eagulls and noise punks Perfect Pussy graced the Stubb's outdoor stage before a Lone Star-swilling crowd, some of whom were wearing hats and scarves in the face of 50-degree weather.
In anticipation of the show, the Scene talked to Numan via email about the legacy of his signature hit, struggling with depression, the musical inspiration that’s seen him through, the aggressive nature of his must-see stage show and more. See the full interview after the jump.
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