This week’s CityBeat features the announcement of the first several weeks’ worth of headliners for PNC’s MidPoint Indie Summer Series. The free, every-Friday concert series on Fountain Square again features an interesting array of out-of-town artists and Cincinnati music’s finest. The concerts begin June 3 with local Electronica duo You, You’re Awesome headlining a typically eclectic night of provocative sounds. It’s good prep for 2011’s MidPoint Music Festival this fall. The Indie Summer kick-off is your first chance to get MidPoint ’11 tickets — MPMFers can buy three-day passes at a discounted rate while they last at the events this summer.
Below, take a look/listen to the performers announced so far.
Friday, June 3
Cincy duo You, You’re Awesome’s joyous, danceable, vintage/modern Electro vibe — a mix of classic synth sounds, melodic samples, energized live drums and, in the concert setting, choreographed video projections — has earned the group industry attention and a following beyond city limits. YYA has released three EPs since emerging in 2008, along with some acclaimed remixes of other artists’ tracks and occasional single-track offerings, such as their Seedy Seeds cover for that trio’s latest self-curated “tribute” release featuring the group’s pals reinterpreting song from the new Verb/Noun album.
The twosome’s Indie Summer show will also serve as the release party for YYA’s much-anticipated debut full-length release. Check out YYA’s compelling way of incorporating visuals with their music in the below clip for the track “For the Queen,” a live-set staple and “unreleased bonus track” from the sessions for 2009’s You're My Superhero EP.
Joining YYA for the season opener is another duo, buzzin’ Brooklyn-based critical faves Javelin, who spice their beat-heavy brand of Electro with influences like old-school Hip Hop, ’80s R&B, ’70s Soul/Funk and even shades of World music. Javelin’s latest release is the 13-track, spaghetti western-inspired Canyon Candy, released April 16 on 10-inch vinyl for Record Store Day (download the release’s “Cowpoke” via Stereogum here).
Click here for a video profile of the duo from XLR8R TV's Tune in an Afternoon program or just listen to the clip below of “Off My Mind” from Javelin’s No Más album, the duo’s second full-length and debut for the David Byrne-founded World-music-lovin’ label Luaka Bop (here is a link to download the track for free)
Lydia Burrell — the name used by Kentucky-based producer Alexander Smith — rounds out 2011’s first Indie Summer bill. Smith released Lydia Burrell’s ambient, textural Electro/Indie Pop debut last year on Louisville’s Removador imprint, which was founded by My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James (who also provided some studio/production assistance to the project). Download album track “Ring” below.
Friday, June 10
The moment we knew the MidPoint Indie Summer shows were something special and unique for Cincinnati was at last year’s packed performance by Neon Indian.
Neon Indian was concocted by aspiring filmmaker and (at the time) part-time musician Alan Palamo as a side project. But the album he made by himself in his Austin apartment, Psychic Chasms, caught on big time and became a global sensation. Palamo went to Finland to write the material for Neon Indian’s follow-up album, which is due this fall.
Below, check out the cool official video for the Psychic Chasms track “Mind, Drips.”
Neon Indian’s tourmates Oberhofer — another “band” formed out of a solo D.I.Y. recording project — also perform June 10. Brad Oberhofer wrote and recorded the songs for the debut Oberhofer album in his parent’s basement in Tacoma as a teenager (not long ago — he's only about 20 now). When his folks’ house burned down, he headed to New York, attended NYU, became an intern at Matador Records and put together Oberhofer as a full band to spread his catchy, crafty, often expansive Indie Pop across the country.
Check out the Oberhofer song “o0Oo0Oo” below.
Friday, June 17
Chicago’s Maps & Atlases have played Cincinnati many times since forming in 2004. The band has developed and sharpened its progressive Indie sound over time, blending elements like soulful Folk and adventurous Post Punk. The band became blog and Indie press favorites with their self-released recordings (and EPs on the Sargent House label). The band’s buzz helped them sign with Barsuk for 2010’s Perch Patchwork, the band’s debut full-length.
Check out Brian Baker’s CityBeat feature story on the band from just after Patchwork’s release here.
Below is the music video for Patchwork single “Solid Ground.”
Friday, June 24
New York City’s Asobi Seksu began as Shoegazer disciples, gradually developing a more focused but no less atmospheric Indie Pop sound that mixes lush airy ambiance with hooky melodies. The band’s ethereal Pop has won them a worldwide fanbase and fawning reviews out the wazoo. The band’s latest album (and fourth overall), Fluorescence, came out this past Valentine’ Day on respected indie label Polyvinyl.
Below is the music video for 2009 single “Me & Mary,” which showcases the band’s peppier side.
Also performing June 24 is eclectic Detroit crew Prussia, which puts a dizzying slant on classic Pop song concepts (throwing in whatever other influences and techniques are within arm’s reach) without losing their original intentions. The band is part of Detroit’s new guard of music-makers that don’t possess the expected traits conjured when music fans hear the words “Detroit band.” That hasn’t hurt their local draw — the band was recently named Best Band in Detroit by Real Detroit Weekly.
The group’s new EP, Four For Attention, is a warm up for the imminent release of the Poor English LP and Electronic remix project, Prussia Goes to the Disco.
Below is Prussia performing “Great Lakes” for Michigan public radio station WDET.
Friday. July 1
Locals-done-good Pomegranates headline the first Indie Summer of July. The Cincinnati-based Indie Pop foursome has drawn national attention with its releases for Lujo Records and subsequent cross-country touring. The band’s best album to date, last year’ One of Us, was the Poms’ first for Afternoon Records and so far has been the album to garner the most acclaim for the group.
The band has been creatively tinkering with Pop song structure, as well as the surrounding sonics, since forming just five years ago. One of Us showed the stunning results of their experiments and experience — a truly singular, magnetic sound that is wordlessly emotive and uniquely infectious.
Listen to One of Us track “50s” below.
Friday, July 8
The final Indie Summer act announced this week is also the most unusual. Big Freedia’s hyper Electro/Hip Hop music and flamboyant performance style will turn Fountain Square into a seedy, grinding N’awlins Dance club. Freedia (a New Orleans resident) is the queen of the “Sissy Bounce” sound, a spin on the regional Hip Hop/club music genre known as Bounce which “features explicitly gay and cross-dressing musicians and themes.” (Freedia was born a man but identifies himself as a woman … or, more appropriately, a diva.)
Freedia has a couple of albums, a collaboration with the band Galactic and a few regional hits under her bedazzled belt; she's also attracting a growing cult following nationwide thanks blog/press coverage.
For a taste of what Freedia is bringing to downtown July 8, check the video for her song “Azz Everywhere.” And don't tell the CCV Freedia's coming our way. (WARNING: This clip is thoroughly NSFW clip.)
The rest of the lineups (the series runs through Sept. 2) will be announced in the coming weeks. Check citybeat.com and the official MidPoint website (as well as MPMF’s various social media pages) for the latest news.