“Jersey City” - Hilly Eye
Kelly wrote, “Hilly Eye has a clear vision. That vision is to rock. The visionaries are friends Amy Klein on guitar and vocals, and Catherine Tung on drums and vocals. [...] Catherine keeps the beats while adding to the harmonies, but it’s the sheer amount of proficiency Amy has that allows her fingers to fly up and down the neck of her guitar that is the most impressive thing about this band. She plays it like she owns it, and sings with screams like battle cries wrought with the imperfection of honesty.”
Read the rest of Kelly’s review here.
photo credit: Claire Gallagher
“þú ert sólin" - Olafur Arnalds
Claire wrote, “Arnalds' sound was like chocolate and peanut butter; like peanut butter and jelly; like Andrew Mercer and Danger Mouse--things that you wouldn't except to go together but do wonderfully. He fuses neoclassical, traditional instrumentals with electronic, modern beats, resulting in a technically beautiful, rich, and exciting new sound. [...] The show was one to get lost in. I scanned the room to watch the audience every now and then, and everyone was seemingly hypnotized by the display of musicianship on stage.”
Read the rest of Claire’s review here.
“Fool On The Hill (feat. Phonte)” - Trackademicks
Rebecca wrote, “For State of the Arts, he mostly showcases what’s becoming his signature style, glistening synths over smooth beats, the sonic equivalent of a full sun spilling its glittery diamonds into the ocean. Fall into the feather-soft sound of ‘Fool on the Hill,’ featuring sharp verses from both Trackademicks and Phonte (formerly of Little Brother and current member of The Foreign Exchange). [...] A couple of accelerated, hard-edged tracks plopped awkwardly in the middle of the album—’Quit Yo Job,’ featuring Kid Sister, and ‘Score’—venture away from the mellow vibe and towards an electro-pop energy. It’s a strange shift, enough to make you wonder if you’ve accidentally skipped to an entirely different album.”
Read the rest of Rebecca’s review here.
“Throw Me Overboard” - The Hope Trust
Laurel Kathleen reviewed The Hope Trust’s sophomore album, Light Can’t Escape.
Laurel wrote, “The Hope Trust's sophomore effort is more of an improvement on existing themes than anything else. The songs are well crafted, and the choruses are catchy enough to fit the demands of pop without being too repetitious or simple. [...] This album definitely proves that the band is interested in continuing their journey as artists, and I can't wait to see what direction they strike out in next.”
Read the rest of Laurel’s review here.
photo credit: Laurel Kathleen
“Grandfather’s Gun” - Slang Chickens
Laurel Kathleen also caught Slang Chickens at The Echo, where they’ll be playing every Monday - for free - all throughout February.
Laurel wrote, “Slang Chickens is the kind of band that makes you want to start a band. Taking a very generous definition of ‘alternative,’ the SoCal quartet combines alt-country, punk, post rock, and pop in ways that seem to redefine the very boundaries they are exploring. [...] The lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist fell to the ground in a frenzied solo, and the lead electric guitarist unselfconsciously marched up to the first brave row of the audience, shredding for their enjoyment as much as his own. It was the opposite of cocky - more like a genuine interest in sharing their music with the crowd.”
Read the rest of Laurel’s post here.
“Bells Ring” - Empress Hotel
On Wednesday, Daniel Kohn chatted with Micah McKee of Empress Hotel about the band’s latest, self-titled EP. Here’s some of their conversation:
Daniel Kohn: What makes this EP so unique? How does it capture your sound in the manner you wanted?
Micah McKee: This EP, like the entire project Empress Hotel is completely unorthodox. We always had a plan but it has manifested itself in unexpected ways. The songs on the EP have a strange, fun feel--largely because we intentionally put ourselves out of our element, trying things that we never had the guts or desire to ever try. We only wanted it to sound unique in comparison to our own experiences in the first place, so it sounds genuine.
DK: What was the writing process like for the EP? Who does most of the writing?
MM: The writing process usually involves Ryan and I in a bedroom, and most of it can be attributed to cigarettes, coffee, donuts, microphones, synthesizers, a computer, a guitar, and a notepad. We need to buy more pens though. We run out of pens.
Read the rest of Daniel’s interview here.
“Long Live the Fallen World” - Young Galaxy
Kristina Villarini recently caught up with Stephan Ramsay of Young Galaxy, aka “the smartest band you’ve never heard of.” Here’s a sample of their conversation:
KV: What is the dynamic of the band?
SR: It's based on doing justice to the idea of the music. It sounds a little pretentious, but I'm in my mid-thirties now, so I have specific reasons for doing things. If I think about trying to compete with the Arctic Monkeys... That depresses me. I don't want to compete with those bands. That's not where my head is at. I want it to be an art project and let different types of media become a part of it.
KV: But very few artists see music as art, honestly...
SR: It's important to be honest, even if you have a lot of ambition. I'm disappointed too by musicians. I thought I would have a lot of philosophical and high-concept conversations about this art form. The truth is, a lot of musicians are just looking to seduce the audience and make some money. Young Galaxy is not really popular in the Top 40 sense, so I think we get to have an agenda that's about being as creatively fertile as possible. I don't hear a lot of people talk that way. For us as a band, we hit a point where you can either be more popular, or be more creatively rewarding. It's about articulating the kind of artists we want to be and the way we perceive ourselves is very important.
Read the rest of Kristina’s interview here.