TOPS are a four-piece band from Montreal deliver a raw punk take on AM studio pop. Their new record, Picture You Staring, is a lush array of timelessly crafted songs. Picture You Staring gathers strength through intimacy. Self-written, recorded, produced, the record is the result of 12 months spent holed up in Arbutus Records’ Montreal warehouse. This album contains 12 impeccable examples of pop craftsmanship that will reward repeat listeners. David and Jane met in middle school, but didn’t stay in touch until they reunited in Montreal where they’ve been collaborating since 2009. Unintentionally initiating a pop music scene in Montreal, their strange homemade recordings have gained an international following. In 2011 they joined Riley Fleck and started jamming at the loft space La Brique where they wrote and recorded their first record, Tender Opposites. TOPS continue to engineer and produce their own records and make their own videos in collaboration with fellow artists and filmmakers. In opposition to commercially driven pop music, TOPS pursuit lies in creating moving songs that succeed earnestly, disregarding trends and myth-making. Since the release of Picture You Staring in September 2014 TOPS have done multiple tours of the US, Europe and an extensive tour of Japan. They’ve also released six music videos for the record, which range from highly conceptual to animated comedic meditations on life and death to lush choreographed dance. This fall they embark on a headline tour of North America with Los Angeles based artists Puro Instinct. They are currently working towards completing their third album. [Arbutus Records]
Sounds like: Beverly, Fear of Men, Mr Twin Sister
Tuesday: Little May
A dark tangle of raw lyrics, honest and haunting melodies and voices upon voices upon voices; Little May represent a new generation of songwriters. Undefinable and expansive, Little May's sound is created by age-old friends Annie Hamilton, Liz Drummond and Hannah Field, who in 18 short months have acquired almost two million Soundcloud plays, three million Spotify streams and whose debut EP has made its way into the ears of fans and tastemakers far beyond their Sydney home. Since releasing their debut single "Boardwalks," the outfit have been making waves internationally, topping Hype Machine three times, sitting comfortably in the Australian community radio Airit charts as well as receiving high rotation on Triple J. [...] Wowing crowds and selling out shows on their recent 2015 tour, Little May have played the Great Escape Festival, a string of shows across the UK, Ireland and France, in addition to Southside and Hurricane Festival in Germany and Best Kept Secret in the Netherlands. Joining arguably one of the strongest festival lineups, Little May performed at Bonnaroo Festival as well as Gentlemen of the Road, where they joined the likes of the Flaming Lips, Alabama Shakes and Mumford & Sons. With an impending slot at Reading Festival, Leeds Festival and Electric Picnic, Little May's ever-growing résumé of mesmerising shows proves no sign of slowing down. [...] Enormous fans of Aaron Brooking Dessner and The National, it was a career-defining moment when Aaron agreed work with the band. During April and May of 2015, Little May made their way to Hudson in upstate New York and began recording their debut album with Aaron. "It was a dream of ours to work with Aaron Dessner. We are so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to make this album with him, and Jonathan Lowe, who engineered and mixed the album. Aaron captured the heart of what we are about, and we couldn't be more thankful," Little May say about the experience. Recorded in the main hall at Future Past Studios -- a converted nineteenth-century church in Hudson, New York, the unique setting helped capture an intensity now trademark of Little May's music. With the remainder of the album completed in Aaron's garage in Brooklyn, New York set the visual soundtrack for this unique experience, as documented in the accompanying video for their single, "Home." If the first half of 2015 is any indication, Little May's spotlight is going to be a bright one.
Sounds like: Novo Amor, Sarah Winters
Wednesday: Shannon & The Clams
The American West. America’s America. It was here in three very different worlds that Shannon and the Clams were spawned. From the dark redwood forests of Oregon emerged Cody Blanchard: singer and guitarist. The dusty walnut orchards and vineyards of northern California gave us Shannon Shaw: singer and bassist. Out of the lonely dunes of California’s central coast shambled Nate Mayhem: drummer and keys. These three talented visual artists were drawn separately to Oakland, California and it was there that the Clams began playing house parties and grimy clubs. The band was forged in the anachronistic remote communities of the west, in some strange mixture of computer show and country fair; their music is some odd alloy of The Last Picture Show and The Decline of Western Civilization. The pioneer spirit of western life is all over this band: pushing into the unknown, blazing their own trail, creating their own destiny, with the accompanying canyon-esque loneliness and untamed joy only truly known by those with the courage to pull up stakes and head off into the big empty sunset. Gone by the Dawn, the newest Shannon and the Clams album, is their best work to date. The music is complex, the lyrical content is emotionally raw and honest, and the production is the strangest it’s ever been. The album was written as one member was recovering from a serious breakup and another was deep in one. The lyrics reflect it, and the entire album is dripping with sadness, pain, and introspection. Shannon and Cody have not written generic songs about love or the lack of it. Instead they have written about their very own specific heartbreak, mistreatment, and mental trials. The emotion is palpable. On Gone by the Dawn the Clams have DARED TO BE REAL. They’ve exposed their true emotions, which is what's most moving about the album. People are scared to be so real. Society does not encourage it. Folks remain guarded to protect themselves from being mocked, punished, and becoming outcast . The Clams have opted to forgo the potential tongue-clucking finger-waggers, and have instead had the artistic courage and audacity to splay their pain and struggles out for all to hear. We are lucky to hear them get so damn real. For Gone by the Dawn, the Oakland trio hooked up with studio wizard and renaissance man Sonny Smith to record the album at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco. Best known as the driving force behind San Francisco’s beloved Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith uses his refreshing production techniques to create an engaging sonic landscape without compromising the Clams’ signature Lou Christie-meets-The Circle Jerks sound. The Clams have evolved: their skills are sharper, their chops are tighter and weirder and they’ve added new instruments to to the mix. A whole new dimension of the Clams has emerged. In the West everything is big. The mountains are towering, the rivers broad, the deserts vast, the canyons deep, and the emotions huge. The Clams have painted themselves into a massive landscape of sound and desolation. Gone by the Dawn is monumental; immense, magnificent, and unforgettable. Shannon and the Clams have pioneered their way into a lonesome land where the past still lives in the long shadows of a hot afternoon, where whispering spirits follow high along canyon walls, and if you sink your fingers into the dusty hard-packed earth you pull out hands smeared with blood. [Hardly Art]
Sounds like: Nobunny, Dead Ghosts
Do you love R&B music? Who doesn't. Join DJs TIIIIIIIIIIP and Slamdunkapher for a night of dancing and grooving to the biggest R&B hits of our time. Guest DJs include Sophia Eris, K. Raydio, Micamaryjane.
Alex Uncapher, aka Slamdunkapher, grew up in Eau Claire, WI, and graduated from the Center for Digital Imaging Arts In Boston, MA. Alex’s main focus is on striking conceptual images barely on the verge of reality. Alex’s event work showcases his young, fun, and fast paced lifestyle. Alex currently resides in Minneapolis, MN and is working for a variety of clients in the area.
Friday: TELEKINESIS | SAY HI
When it came time to make the fourth Telekinesis album, drummer/songwriter/principal architect Michael Lerner found himself in a predicament that will sound familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in the lore of rock bands. In just under five years, he had released three fantastic records—Telekinesis! (2009), 12 Desperate Straight Lines (2011), and Dormarion (2013)—each more ambitious than the last. He had toured all over the world, shared stages with great bands (Death Cab for Cutie, Portugal. The Man, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo’s The Both), and enthralled fans of his infectious, ebullient power pop. [...] Though Lerner is a drummer with a strong affinity for loud electric guitars, he found himself irresistibly attracted to the powerful atmospheres stirred up by the gorgeously inorganic sounds and simple arrangements of these wildly disparate inspirations. A new idea began to take shape, as did a somewhat obsessive collection of old synthesizers and drum machines. Lerner dedicated himself to learning the intricacies of antiquated keyboards with names like the Roland JX-10 (the very model Angelo Badalamenti used to compose the music for Twin Peaks), the Teenage Engineering OP-1, the Moog Sub Phatty, the Elektron Octatrack, and even a Speak & Spell. “If you buy a guitar,” observes Lerner, “people always say ‘oh, there’s a song in that guitar.’ That’s how it was for every piece of equipment I acquired over the last two years.” Finding the songs was one thing; making sense of the elaborate technical requirements that would allow him to sync the multiple generations of machinery with digital recording software was another. There were plenty of easier ways to go about the process, sending MIDI versions of the vintage sounds and letting a computer do the heavy lifting, but that would have missed the point. There was joy in getting his hands dirty; part of the process was to invent the process. It took months of diligent effort (“pulling my hair out, for real”), but when the literal and figurative dust settled, what emerged looked and sounded like a legitimate breakthrough. The previous three Telekinesis LPs had been recorded fast, on tape, in professional studios with accomplished producers—Chris Walla on the first two, Jim Eno on the third—at the helm. This new one had been painstakingly assembled by Lerner alone, working without a map, using an entirely unfamiliar palette of sounds, and discovering an entirely different tonal vocabulary in the process. And though the total running time is a tidy 33 minutes, it had taken what seemed like forever to get there (hence the album title).
Say Hi is Eric Elbogen. He lives in Seattle, WA and has been making records since 2002. His ninth, Bleeders Digest, is a record about vampires and the sequel to Say Hi To Your Mom’s Impeccable Blahs. Vampires. Does there exist a species more mysterious, slandered, glorified and misunderstood? The answers to all of those questions and more. Tonight. In this bio. It was 2006 when we last checked in with vampire biographer and dad-joke comedian Eric Elbogen (he’s mostly been devoting time to his slacker-guitar / synth-pop ‘band’ Say Hi). Back then he’d taken his exposé deep behind the trenches of post-Buffy vampire life (death?) with his record Impeccable Blahs. There, he found a culture ripe with individuals as complex, moral, stupid and romantic as their human counterparts. They just happened to get their sustenance from drinking blood. But that was before the complications the Twilight series introduced. Suddenly, things were different. Garlic wasn’t really a thing any more, mirrors couldn’t be relied upon to not have reflections and, gasp, apparently the cloud cover of the Pacific Northwest was enough to give them a we-can-now-walk-around-in-the-sunlight loophole? Let’s just say things didn’t really sit quite right with the vast majority of blood suckers. They rebelled. Subtly at first. But, before us humans knew it, they’d infiltrated the very fabric of our society.
Join us for the best Halloween party in town. This party will overtake The Mainroom and The Entry, with ☁ (Cloud) + DJ FooLProoF, DJ Espada + Mike 2600, DJ Smitty + Roy Freedom (and host Ian Rans) holding it up in the Mainroom, and Likehell, Bruise Violet, Busey and Blackbird Bridge in The Entry. Make sure you have a costume planned--there will be a costume contest, photobooth, and over $1000 worth of cash prizes throughout the night. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 day of show, and $20 at the door. Doors are at 8, and entrance is subject to capacity--so come early, guys and ghouls.
Sunday: Here We Go Magic
Here We Go Magic is an indie rock group which formed in Brooklyn New York, United States in 2008. Originally the solo project of singer/songwriter Luke Temple (vocals, guitar), the band has since expanded to include Kristina Lieberson (keyboards), Michael Bloch (guitar), Jennifer Turner (bass guitar), and Peter Hale (drums). Developed over a two-month period of stream-of-consciousness recording in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Luke Temple’s self-titled debut under his new moniker Here We Go Magic is a remarkable departure from his signature singer-songwriter material. Luke recorded the album at home using analog synths, a cassette 4-track, and his trusty SM-57 mic, coloring the sound with warmth and creating textures you want to wrap yourself in. Later in 2009 Temple expanded the project into a fully fledged band with keyboardist Kristina Lieberson , guitarist Michael Bloch , bass guitarist Jennifer Turner and drummer Peter Hale. The second album Pigeons was recorded surrounded by mountains in Catskills, New York in the fall of 2009 and was released by Secretly Canadian on June 8, 2010. [Last.fm]
Sounds like: Le Loup, Daniel Rossen, Papercuts
Blog by Gina Reis