Since the dawn of Electronic music in the ’60s, one of the consistent difficulties with the genre has been that the idea of a composition or an entire record is often more interesting than the execution of the idea.
It would seem that Sigur Ros is at least tangentially aware of that circumstance because the Icelandic quartet seems to have found the proper balance of conceptual cool, ephemeral frippery and solid musicianship over the past decade and a half. This is the band, after all, that invented its own language on its debut album, 1997’s Von, and initially left all of the songs on 2002’s ( ) untitled.
That is conceptualism on a grand scale, but Sigur Ros has typically been more than equal to the task of making a soundtrack every bit as fascinating as the airy framework that underpins it.
After a brief flirtation with a slightly more tangible Pop song structure on 2008’s Meo suo i erum vio spilum endalaust, Sigur Ros returns with Valtari, which sees the band bringing strings and electronics back to their rightful place in its sonic forefront. While Valtari revisits the chilly ambient atmospherics of Sigur Ros’ early work, the band folds in dashes of Meo suo’s Pop ethic and ethereal operatics courtesy of a beautifully utilized girl’s choir.
The album’s first single, “Ekki Mukk,” takes Brian Eno’s aggressively Ambient stance while “Rembihnutur” soars with an expansive crystalline magnificence that could pass for Radiohead or U2 in an experimental moment while “Dauoalogn” swells like a contemporary hymn rising to the arched ceiling of a grand Electronic church.
If Meo suo i erum vio spilum endalaust was Sigur Ros’ Saturday night dance party, Valtari is their Sunday morning confessional.
(The following Sigur Ros video is NSFW due to nudity, including shots of Shia's LaBeouf.)
Last night, Cincinnati's Walk the Moon hosted an album release show at New York City's Mercury Lounge in honor of their full-length debut for RCA Records. To promote the record on a bit of a wider scale, the quartet also performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. The band played its signature tune, "Anna Sun," which has been named "song of the summer" two years running and, therefore, deserves a ranking on the list of all-time songs of summer.
WtM's appearance on The Late Show also elicited some nostalgia from the host. Letterman introduced the band as "from the Queen City, Cincinnati, Ohio … home of Oscar Robertson and your Cincinnati Royals." Lettterman grew up in Indiana and has talked about his affinity for Cincinnati (and, particularly, its sports teams, including our one-time NBA franchise) frequently.
After the tune, Letterman seemed to enjoy the group so much, he joked with them, "Now wait a minute — during your song, we made some calls and we've arranged for you guys to move from Cincinnati and live here at the YMCA."
Walk the Moon killed it. Look ma — no face paint?! Here's the video:
Indie Funk Pop greats of Montreal's live show is like Prince and the Spiders from Mars doing Mummenschanz, and it's so entertaining, everyone should see the band live at least once in their lifetime (even if you hate all music, the band's theatrical presentation is something to behold). If you still need to cross "see of Montreal in concert" off of your bucket list, tonight's the night. The band performs at Covington's Madison Theater at 8 p.m. with Yip Deceiver (a side project of oM's Davey Pierce and Nick Dobbratz's) and Brooklyn "Pscychedelic Soul, Island Romance Pop, Space Rock" quartet Chappo. Tickets for the all-ages show are $15.
The headliners are touring in support of its latest album, Paralytic Stalks. Here's the official music video for the track, "Spiteful Intervention."
• Tonight at the basement Ballroom at the Taft (a great place to see a show, if you haven't yet), Punk-to-Metal veterans Corrosion of Conformity headline a night of sludgy modern Metal madness. The show features opening acts Torche, Black Cobra and progressive Salt Lake City-based Math Metal ensemble Gaza.
Click here to read a little more about Torche, then enjoy the Floridian band's video for the track "King Beef" below.
• If you're a little short on funds, Fountain Square has a great free show this evening. The 7 p.m. "American Roots" concert features two of the area's finest Americana acts — Magnolia Mountain and Wild Carrot (with its back-up crew, The Roots Band).
Click here for even more live music events in Greater Cincinnati today.
Local RCA Records recording artists Walk the Moon surprised fans today by announcing that they have teamed with video service VEVO to premiere its new, self-titled album, which hits stores this coming Tuesday. The album is being premiered as a "series of officially unofficial videos, hand-made, band-made by yours truly without a film crew or a budget."
Check out the full Walk the Moon album below (in playlist form).
Over the past dozen years, Beth Ditto and Gossip have finetuned their lo-fi Indie Rock presentation into a wild pastiche of fist-pumping Punk, funky Soul/Pop and Indie Dance Rock, with a stage component that blends campy theater of the absurd with thrift store chic. Ditto and guitarist Nathan Howdeshell have never forgotten their Arkansas roots but have masterfully absorbed the musical zeitgeist of their Northwest environment and assimilated it into their broad range of oddly complementary influences, particularly on their 2006 breakthrough Standing in the Way of Control and their 2009 hit Music for Men.
On A Joyful Noise, Gossip’s fifth and finest album, the band and producers Mark Ronson and Brian Higgins have crafted a set that blends a soaring Gospel vibe with a slamming Indie Rock foundation and accessorizes it with bristling Dance Punk and washes of Electronic atmosphere.
The opening salvo of “Melody Emergency” finds Ditto warbling with Kate Bush’s intensity and Lene Lovich’s chirp while Howdeshell cranks out glammy chords worthy of Marc Bolan and drummer Hannah Blilie nails down the perfect groove. The trio immediately veers into should-be-a-mega-club-hit Dance Pop territory with the dramatic and anthemic “Perfect World,” a track that Madonna would embrace but could never pull off, and the funky Electropop novelty of “Get a Job.”
With typical bravado and style and an impressively evolving maturity, Gossip push the aptly titled A Joyful Noise in a dozen different directions while maintaining a firm grip on their own malleable sonic identity.
Our Brian Baker says, "Landreth’s swampy yet razor sharp slide guitar riffs are as singularly identifiable as a fingerprint and as beautifully impressionistic as a Monet watercolor," while none other than Eric Clapton said Landreth is "probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also is probably one of the most advanced." (Read more from Brian about Sonny here.)
Landreth is touring behind Elemental Journey, the guitarist's first all-instrumental album. Check out his guitar-duet with Joe Satriani, "Gaia Tribe," below.
• Catchy Indie Pop crew Wintersleep plays a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The Canadian rockers (who, in 2008, won a Juno Award, which I believe is like a Grammy except made of Canadian bacon) just two days ago released their new album, Hello Hum. The show starts around 10 p.m. with local Pop/Rock foursome Damn It To Hell, which recently put out its first release (click here to listen).
Here's Wintersleep playing the new album track "Nothing Is Anything (Without You)."
• On Thursdays, Fountain Square presents two different concert series specials. At noon, it's Acoustic Thursdays for downtown lunchers and anyone else who wants to hear some good music sans electricity (well, they do use SOME electricity; PAs usually require it, unless it's an old fashion wheel-and-crank system). Today join Lauren Houston and Jim Pross on the Square at lunchtime
Then, at 7 p.m., it's time for the popular Salsa on the Square. Dance the night away with Stacie Sandoval's Grupo Tumbao. And don't worry if your moves are a little rusty; dance instructors will be on hand to lend their support to your two left feet.
New local Country band Jeremy Pinnell and The 55s — featuring Pinnell, the former frontman for The Light Wires, The Brothers and The Sisters and other local favorites, back on the mic — has started a new weekly gig at The Avenue in Covington, one of the rising venues on the local scene for area original bands.
The 55s hold down the fort every week for Honky Tonk Thursdays at the bar. The shows are free and kick off at around 9 p.m.
Here's a clip The 55s did for The Emery Sessions, a fantastic live performance video series shot at the historic Emery Theatre in OTR, with visuals handled by renowned local photographer Michael Wilson (he also took the photo above) and audio manned by Pop Empire's Cameron Cochran (who also plays lap steel with the 55s and co-helms the Sessions). Here they are performing the song "Back Home."
A few weeks ago, CityBeat was honored to premiere the music video for Ohio Hip Hop artist (and occasional CityBeat contributor) Ill Poetic's Cincy-focused music video for his new track, "Gone." Today, Ill Poetic is allowing us to show you something very cool first — a behind-the-scenes mini-documentary about the shoot titled "A Piece of Our Soul in the Road." I'll let Ill Po explain:
A couple weeks ago, we premiered the video to my song “Gone” on Citybeat.com. The response we received for the song & video was more than I could’ve hoped for. I got so many phone calls, texts, FB messages, blog & YouTube comments from old friends and family, other artists & musicians, and fans in general. And not just the typical “That shit was tight, son” comment. You guys gave me the real feedback. I feel like we all got to reminisce about the people and places we loved, some of whom didn’t make it this far with us (hence the title “A Piece Of Our Soul In The Road”).
The process of making and debuting this video in Cincinnati was pretty unique and made for a lot of new memorable experiences. So David Damen (co-director of the “Gone” video) and I got together to make a small documentary on the filming & debuting of this video, featuring commentary from Mr. Dibbs, and footage from the actual shoot and debut. And in tradition of the video online debut, we’re premiering this Behind-The-Scenes Look again with Citybeat, entitled “A Piece Of Our Soul In The Road”.
From the shoot at Divebar with Mr. Dibbs, to the debut at “Selectas Choice” Dance Party last month with Rare Groove, Pillo & Apryl Reign, this whole process was just fuckin’ amazing. I hope you enjoy the mini-doc as well as the OG song and video.
Pay close attention to the score behind this documentary to get an advanced listen on some of the upcoming music from the EP. “Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement” EP is dropping this Summer.
Without further ado, we give you A Piece of Our Soul in the Road. (For those with prudish bosses, NSFW — salty language.)
If the early onset of mugginess hasn't already, Riverbend presents a great concert tonight to get you ready for the summer, as The Beach Boys bring their 50th anniversary tour — featuring Brian Wilson on stage with fellow Boys Mike Love and Al Jardine for the first time in decades — to Cincinnati. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $21.50-$91.50.
The band is rounded out by members Bruce Johnston and early guitarist David Marks, as well as several auxiliary players, many from Wilson's flawless solo band. The Boys have been playing shows that have lasted close to three hours (with an intermission), performing songs from throughout their career, including big early hits like "Little Deuce Coupe" and "409," as well as Pet Sounds cuts like "God Only Knows" and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," a couple of deeper album cuts (like "California Saga: California," a Jardine song from 1973's Holland album), songs from their new album, That's Why God Made the Radio, and "Kokomo," one of their worst tunes and also one of their biggest.
Here's one of Wilson's mini "teenage symphonies for God," "Heroes and Villains," which has also been performed on the tour. Read our interview with Love and Wilson here.
• If you like your music a little darker, all-female "Garage Goth" troupe The Black Belles are playing a free show at The Comet in Northside. The band's self-titled debut full-length came out last year on Jack White's Third Man Records and the group even collaborated with Stephen Colbert on his 7-inch single for Third Man, "Charlene II (I'm Over You)" (the Belles performed the song with Colbert on his show). Local rockers The Lions Rampant are also on the bill for tonight's free, 10 p.m. show.
Here's the video for the Belles' second single off their eponymous debut, "Wishing Well."
• Also on the "free, high-quality live music" tip — tonight's "American Roots" concert on Fountain Square. The every-Tuesday events spotlight local partakers of the various strains of Americana and Roots music. Tonight, it's a little bit Country, a little bit Rock & Roll, as local Kelly Thomas and the Fabulous Pickups and The Kentucky Struts join forces. They should be comfortable sharing a stage — Thomas and Ky. Struts frontman Todd Lipscomb perform together in the trad Country project, The Tammy WhyNots.
The show runs from 7-10 p.m.
On this date in 1949, American musical icon Hank Williams made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 25. It was the beginning of a very difficult relationship.
Even though things soured, Williams' Opry debut was a career-defining moment. The singer/songwriter wowed the crowd so much, he was called back for six encores (the encores ultimately had to be halted so the rest of the show could go on).
Williams' reputation for heavy drinking put off the Opry initially, but as his star continued to rise — boosted by the success of "Lovesick Blues" (recorded at the Herzog studio here in CIncinnati) — the Country music institution finally relented and invited him to perform.
Williams continued to make Opry appearances over the next three years, but he was banished in 1952 for his alcohol-related issues. Hank died just a few months later, in January of 1953 at the age of 29.
Over the past eight or so years, Hank Williams' grandson, Hank III, and other supporters have participated in a campaign to have Williams posthumously reinstated to the Grand Ole Opry. CityBeat also lent a hand, promoting the "Reinstate Hank" campaign during a tribute presented by the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation in honor of Hank's historic recording sessions in Cincinnati (Herzog studios was located where CityBeat and the CMHF headquarters now reside). Check a clip below.
The reinstatement campaign has yet to work and seems to have lost some steam. But click here to learn more about the attempts to right such a ridiculous wrong.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a June 11 birthday include the least hirsute (ironically!) member of ZZ Top, drummer Frank Beard (1949); Soft Rock god with Air Supply, Graham Russell (1950); guitarist/singer of Southern Rock group .38 Special, Donnie Van Zandt (1952); Flaming Lips drummer-turned-guitarist Steven Drozd (1969); and Heartless Bastards singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom (1977).
Though she and her band are currently based in Austin, Tex., Wennerstrom grew up in Dayton before relocating to Cincinnati. As Wennerstrom has grown, matured, changed and become more confident, so has her band's music. After releasing her first two albums, Wennerstrom headed to Texas and retooled the band, adding two different musicians also from our area — Jesse Ebaugh and Dave Colvin — who joined Wennerstrom in Austin. Since then, the Bastards' albums The Mountain (a more earthy, less balls-out effort) and this year's Arrow (a great combination of everything the band does well) have continued the trend of each successive HB album drawing the group higher praise and more fans.
A happy 35th b-day to Erika. We miss you here in Cincy. Below, check out an interview and acoustic session recorded for American Songwriter.