Kelly Knapp: How would you describe your music?
Laurel Sprengelmeyer: Some people call it experimental or art rock. I don’t even think it’s that experimental; I feel like I have a mixtape aesthetic, but I feel like it’s got it’s own consistency within that. I realize how I like to play sets and how I like my album to sound is based on the fact that I grew up super influenced by mixtapes. One song would be here, the net song would be there. I love consistent album aesthetics, but I feel like when I do my own stuff, I always like it to have that kind of variety.
KK: So it’s kind of varied but it still all fits together.
LS: It all fits together. It’s kind of like different paintings at the same show. I think it’s most important that each song has it’s own universe and it’s own world that’s really solid, because then they fit together. It’s not just a pastiche or random or cut and paste. Each song has to have it’s own little world, and then you just get to go from world to world to world. I like that. That’s what I want. That’s what I wanted the album to sound like.
KK: Anything else you want BestNewBands.com readers to know?
LS: I’m just really happy and touched (at) the way people have been responding to the record, because it’s not like in a trendy this-is-a-hot-new-thing way; people just seem to be listening really carefully – a lot of people – and getting what I was looking to do with it, and I just feel really happy about that, that people have been responding to things like that and just really taking the time to listen and get into it for the right reasons, which is just like that you love music. That’s been really awesome.
Read the rest of Kelly’s interview here.
“Sweet 17” - Dirty Beaches
Kelly also interviewed the one-man band known as Dirty Beaches aka Alex Zhang Hungtai - here’s some of their conversation:
Kelly Knapp: Your style is very evocative of early rock n’ roll and rockabilly, and definitely Elvis. Is this something that you’ve always gravitated toward, or what is it that attracts you to this style of music and performance?
Alex Zhang Hungtai: My background in music had always been very anti-performance, including bands that I used to play in. So when I started to tinker with the idea of creating a persona like rappers or Bowie, I looked into blues mythology, no wave, films, and my own experiences on the road. I found the perfect balance between what's real and fiction.
KK: Where did the name Dirty Beaches come from?
AZH: It comes from the lyric of a Montreal band Postcards. They have a song about a man standing before a dirty beach on some foreign terrain, and I loved that imagery. Stuck with the name since 2006.
KK: You’ve said that you’re more inspired by film, and your music is a very cinematic experience. Do you ever want to make films?
AZH: Yes, currently working on a short film.
KK: When you perform live, do you think in terms of assuming a character in a film? Do you have any routines before a show to get you into that mindset?
AZH: I watched a dance performance where the dancers were acting like animals. I knew this girl who is a really amazing dancer and while watching her rehearsals hanging out I noticed her legs were kicking a lot, like a horse. I think of that image a lot before I play. A woman and a horse.
Read the rest of Kelly’s interview here.
“Used to Be” - The Shivers
Liz Livengood reviewed the Americana band’s latest album, More.
Liz wrote, “Whenever I talk about music, I always come to this question: Where are the ‘great’ bands of today? You know, like the Beatles, or Led Zeppelin? The ones that wrote timeless music that spanned generations to still remain today? Well, I feel like The Shivers have the potential to be one of those greats.
“With solid songwriting and instrumentation, More pleases throughout. Each song sounds lovingly crafted and carefully played. ‘Irrational Love’ is catchy and peppy, but with slightly disturbing lyrics about cruel lovers and the fools who adore them. ‘Kisses’ slows it down for a satisfying ballad full of longing and quavering keyboards. Keith Zarriello’s vocals are gravelly and smooth almost simultaneously, bringing a great edge to all of the songs on the album.
“‘Used To Be’ is synthy goodness with affirming lyrics about how bad things used to be and how much better they are now. It’s a new wave-style song that sounds different than the previous tracks. I appreciate the versatility of this band/album. A lot.”
Read the rest of Liz’s review here.
“Givin’ In” - Robert Ellis
Lauren Novik reviewed the “dreamy” country songster’s newest album, The Great Rearranger.
Lauren wrote, “Summer’s kick-starting off on the right note - specifically with Robert Ellis’ dreamy country tunes, a little blue grass feel, and a whole lot of acousticly awesome tracks. The thing that immediately drew me to his music was his track ‘Givin’ In’- one listen to that lament-worthy intro and I was about to role play in a moth to a flame scenario.
“Though that particular track is slightly on the slower side, it’s got the whole beer (or in my case, chardonnay) in hand scenario, sitting on a porch, trying to freeze time so summer comes to a standstill.
“Those posting Craigslist ads for something a little lighter and more upbeat never fear- his tracks ‘Good Intentions’ and ‘Train Roll On’ both have some relaxing but upbeat elements to keep you entertained when you’ve gotten yourself irrevocably involved in a little summer sun-soaked afternoon.”
Read the rest of Lauren’s review here.
“Morning Thought” - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Claire Gallagher previewed a concert Thursday night in LA.
Claire wrote, “If you Los Angelenos need a great way to start your summer, head over to The Echo tonight to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. play live with supporting acts EMA and Oregon Bike Trails. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is touring for their new upcoming LP It's a Corporate World. You may have seen these guys play at SXSW or read about them in Stereogum's "40 Best New Bands of 2010." Whether you've seen them before or are still wondering if they have anything to do with Nascar (they're from Detroit, aka ‘Motor City’), you should definitely check them out.”
Read the rest of Claire’s preview here.
The Secret Sisters
“Tennessee Me” - Secret Sisters
“Stay Awake” - The Globes
“Airplanes” - Local Natives
Monica Christoffels shared some of her Sasquatch! Music Festival experience.
Monica wrote, “I spent most of Saturday wandering around to different stages, as so many other Sasquatch! attendees often do. After catching the tail-end of Pepper Rabbit’s performance on the Yeti stage, I went to watch The Secret Sisters on the Bigfoot stage. The two siblings from Muscle Shoals, Ala. put on quite the show, filling up the field with new and old fans alike. I loved how understated the Sisters’ music was - their 1950s-inspired country sound was a perfect fit for the crowd and the idyllic, sunny afternoon. … But I was drawn away to the Yeti stage, where a pop-rock act called The Globes was playing.
“This Spokane, Wash. quartet played a great (if somewhat short, but then again all the acts were on a strict schedule) set, packing the Yeti stage and surrounding food court area with plenty of new fans for The Globes. ‘Thank you so much for coming to watch a band you’ve never heard of,’ one of the band members said. ‘It really means a lot to us.’ After their show, the guys hung out and greeted fans at the Easy St. Records booth.
“By the time Local Natives hit the main stage, I’d found a decent spot on the sprawling hillside and made friends with some Montanans sitting nearby. In my notes, I’d written the indie/folk/pop quintet from L.A. was ‘so legit,’ and I’m pretty sure that observation was dead-on, for while Local Natives played its second song, ‘World News,’ before the band had even formally introduced itself, hundreds of concertgoers flocked to the top corner of the hillside for a flash mob dance party. Some other stand-out songs for me included ‘Warning Sign,’ Shape Shifter’ and ‘Airplanes,’ naturally. At the end of its set, the band announced it’ll be heading back to LA to record a new album; Local Natives will also play at Lollapalooza later this summer.”
Read the rest of Monica’s review here.