Monthly Archives: June 2015

Newly minted octobass premiers at Norway music fest

octobass3There are only seven octobasses in the world.

To even play the giant instrument, levers are installed on the side, which you use to help take care of the fretting your fingers would normally do. Standing on a stepstool is also required to play it. The sound an octobass can make is so low that it’s below the register of human hearing.

Andy Battaglia from Red Bull Music Academy Daily ran a story about the octobass, recently which made its appearance at the Only Connect Festival of Sound music festival in Norway.

The story explains that the first one was made in 1850. Considering that it’s now 2015 and only seven have been made, demand doesn’t seem too high.

octobass2This seventh one (above) is tremendous: It’s more than 12.5 feet tall. According to the story, the guts from about 12 sheep were used to make the strings. To further give you an idea of its size, “the tuning pegs are roughly the size of small salad plates.” This one is supported partially by the stool people use to play it.

The photo above also serves to successfully shrink the tall man standing next to it — at least he used to be tall.

During the festival, the octobass was used during an ensemble performance, which included a piccoletto violin, which creates extremely high sounds.

To hear its sound, check out this 2010 video from the Arizona Republic of a man playing an octobass at a museum. The vibrations caused by the bow visibly make the strings vibrate so deeply it looks like a slithering snake.

Visit Red Bull Music Academy on Twitter for more.


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Filed under Classical, Odd instruments, VIdeos

Remember when Caribou gave away a giant fish? We have a winner

In April, Caribou held a contest in which a colorful flying fish was going to be given away.

Dan Snaith, aka Caribou, explained how the winner was chosen:

We received over 500 emails from every corner of the world proposing myriad purposes for it – including an aeronautical engineering student who wanted to attach it to a rocket and fire it into space. 

But right from the first time we read it, one proposal in particular grabbed our attention, and after researching the logistics of transporting this gentle giant halfway around the world, we are proud to announce the winner today: 

Harry Marshall emailed us on behalf of a group of students at the Welsh School of Architecture, planning to help build a playground on the island of Koh Rong in Cambodia, together with non-profit organisation Friends of Koh Rong.

The Cambodian island of Koh Rong is certainly not the only island that is dealing with the effects of increased tourism but is one such example, where rapid change is presenting the local community with overwhelming challenges.

Friends of Koh Rong was set up in 2013 to help deal with exactly those problems through increasing ( the previously limited ) access to education, healthcare and increasing the community’s capacity to deal with the strain brought by more tourism:

“Our organisation aims to help in mitigating the negative impacts of the tourism industry, and to enable our beneficiaries to stand in the best possible position to benefit from the changes that have arrived on this island, their home.”

As tourist infrastructure has encroached on more and more space on the island, there is no place for the school aged children on the island to play. The playground, sitting next to the school set up by Friends of Koh Rong, will provide an area for the children to play and be safe. The creature will provide a centrepiece for the playground. 

Harry and his team are raising money to complete this playground right now with construction due to begin towards the end of July – right around the time the multicoloured creature, which is just now being crated up and in preparation for its transpacific journey, will arrive on the island.

You can learn more and support the Friends of Koh Rong playground project by visiting their Kickstarter.

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Filed under Synth, Synth pop

Tinashe wants to give you whiplash with “Cold Sweat”

Tinashe’s new video for “Cold Sweat” is as mind-numbing as it is sultry R&B. It features the singer contorting her body in fits and starts against a black background, and generally appearing possessed, but in a good way.

Via www.rap-up, Tinashe may be participating in the Janet Jackson dance tribute at the BET Awards. She’ll be on tour with Nicki Minaj starting in Dallas on July 17.

The “Cold Sweat” video was directed by Stephen Garnett. The song is off her debut, “Aquarius.”

If you haven’t yet, make sure to download Tinashe’s excellent free seven-song mixtape, which she recorded in her bedroom during her Christmas vacation last year.

Tinashe – Amethyst

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Filed under Free download, Hip-Hop, New Music, Pop, VIdeos

Mas Ysa releases the tempo-jumping dance song “Arrows”

Canadian composer Mas Ysa today released a new song, “Arrows.” Thomas Arsenault, aka Mas Ysa, says this about the synthpop creation:

“Arrows is sort of a Euro club banger, but also a very personal love song. It comes out of me wanting to make a universal, club-ready track but unwittingly giving into emotion.”

His debut “Seraph,” named for a type of angel, is out July 24 on Downtown Records and was created in Arsenault’s home studio over a year. More of his music can be found at Mas Ysa on Soundcloud.

Arsenault also explained how sounds like clapping and flutes affected him personally.

“Thematically, there’s a lot of Catholic guilt and shame. I don’t set out to use specific sounds, but looking later at the pallet of choirs, clapping, castanets, flutes—I’ve realized that they are just comforting to me. I think that comes from going to church and coming from very large and close Ecuadorian and French-Canadian families. I don’t actively reference any culture’s sound or instruments, when I noticed later they were all over the place.”

Mas Ysa on tour :
6/26 Millvale, PA – Mr Smalls Theater *
6/27 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop *
6/28 Ferndale, MI – The Loving Touch *
6/30 Covington, KY – Madison Live *
7/01 St.
Louis, MO – Firebird *
7/02 Lincoln, NE – Vega *
7/03 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge *
7/05 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge *
7/07 Vancouver, BC – Electric Owl *
7/08 Seattle, WA – Neumos *
7/09 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios *
7/11 San Francisco, CA – Phono Del Sol *
7/13 Los Angeles, CA – Bardot #
7/14 Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory *
7/15 Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar *
7/17 Austin, TX – Red 7 *
7/18 Dallas, TX – Club Dada *
7/19 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s *
7/21 Atlanta, GA – The Earl *
7/22 Ashville, NC – The Mothlight *
7/23 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall *
7/24 Philadelphia, PA – Voyeur *
7/25 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair *
7/27 Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right ^

* w/ Tanlines
# Free School Night! w/ Phantoms, Corsica Arts Club & Fort Lean
^ RECORD RELEASE PARTY w/ Wish, Michael Baharie & Kelsey Lu

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Filed under New Music, Synth pop, Tour Dates

Portsmouth’s Lady Lamb finishes tour | New Hampshire

Lady Lamb shows off embroidered fan art in Portsmouth, N.H.

I recently saw indie folk-rock artist Lady Lamb in concert in Portsmouth, N.H., but not before I spoke with her on the phone for N.H. Union Leader. From what I remember, Lady Lamb (Aly Spaltro) was big into her Maine roots, loves her time alone, and has a deep affinity for the universe. Good thing I asked where she was born: The one and only Portsmouth. Read my story in the link:

Portsmouth’s Lady Lamb finishes tour Wednesday | New Hampshire.

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Filed under Indie folk, Indie Rock, My work at Union Leader

Thundercat’s rolling bass drives “Them Changes”

Thundercat is back, this time with the retro-soul gem “Them Changes.”
Singer, producer and bass player Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) is known for working with Flying Lotusthundercat bass and Suicidal Tendencies. Bruner has also made a recent appearance on Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly,” but his resume includes working with Erykah Badu’s “New Amerykah” in 2008. He’s been collaborating with Flying Lotus since Bruner’s first album, 2011’s “Golden Age of Apocalypse,” which Flying Lotus produced.

Thundercat’s new single “Them Changes” channels slivers of Kool and the Gang’s romantic vocals and the easy-living piano of Hall and Oates and modernizes it into a new version of smooth R&B funk.

It’s an infectious hit, and its bumping and rolling bass lifts you off the floor.

Via Rolling Stone, Thundercat’s new mini-album, “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam,” which Flying Lotus co-produced, is out June 22. Thundercat is on the Brainfeeder label.

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Filed under Funk, Retro Soul, Soul

Neil Young addresses GMO labeling, “media trolls” in latest statement

Rock musician Neil Young issued a longer statement today after a statement June 17 regarding Donald Trump’s use of Young’s song “Rockin’ In the Free World,” during Trump’s announcement he was running for president.

Young also set out to clarify a photo that circulated yesterday in various media outlets in conjunction with the statement.

In this much lengthier statement, Young doesn’t mention Trump’s name, and also doesn’t mention Bernie Sanders, the presidential candidate he appeared to endorse yesterday. He did mention Vermont today, though, and its decision to allow GMO-labeling.

Neil-Young bwAccording to the Associated Press, Vermont is first in the nation to pass a law that requires food which contains genetically modified organisms to be labeled as such. The story also adds that companies could be fined up to $1,000 a day for each unlabeled item.

Young also mentions his latest album The Monsanto Years, in which he says he aims to bring to light the damage done by “self-serving misinformation coming from corporations and their media trolls.”

“Freedom of choice is meaningless without knowledge,” he says. Young’s statement ends with a verse from “Rockin’ In the Free World.”

The full text is below:

Yesterday my song “Rockin’ in the Free World” was used in an announcement for a U.S. presidential candidate without my permission.

A picture of me with this candidate was also circulated in conjunction with this announcement but It was a photograph taken during a meeting when I was trying to raise funds for Pono, my online high resolution music service.

Music is a universal language. So I am glad that so many people with varying beliefs get enjoyment from my music, even if they don’t share my beliefs.

But had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate – I would have said no.

I am Canadian and I don’t vote in the United States, but more importantly I don’t like the current political system in the USA and some other countries. Increasingly Democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests. The money needed to run for office, the money spent on lobbying by special interests, the ever increasing economic disparity and the well-funded legislative decisions all favor corporate interests over the peoples.

The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling is proof of this corruption, as well as the proposed trade deals, which would further compromise our rights.

These Corporations were originally created to serve us, but if we don’t appropriately prioritize they will destroy us. Corporations don’t have children. They don’t have feelings or soul. They don’t depend on uncontaminated water, clean air or healthy food to survive. They are beholden to one thing — the bottom line.

I choose to speak Truth to this Economic Power. When I speak out on corporations hurting the common man or the environment or other species, I expect a well-financed disinformation campaign to be aimed my way.

Such is the case with the reaction to my new album The Monsanto Years, which covers many of these issues. I support those bringing these issues to light and those who fight for their rights like Freedom of Choice.

But Freedom of Choice is meaningless without knowledge.

That’s why it’s crucial we all get engaged and get informed.

That’s why GMO labeling matters. Mothers need to know what they are feeding their children. They need freedom to make educated choices at the market. When the people have voted for labeling, as they have in Vermont, they need our support when they are fighting these corporate interests trying to reverse the laws they have voted for and passed in the democratic process.

I do not trust self-serving misinformation coming from corporations and their media trolls. I do not trust politicians who are taking millions from those corporations either. I trust people. So I make my music for people not for candidates.

Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World.

– Neil Young

Take a listen to the song, via YouTube:

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Filed under Neil Young, News

Torres, Garbage in mammoth tour

torres pic

Singer-songwriter Torres (Mackenzie Scott) will head out on tour with ’90s Garbage this summer through October. Torres is fresh off the release of her album “Sprinter” and its fiery single of the same name.

Garbage has one of THE alt-rock hits of the ’90s with “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.”

Put these two groups together and you have a mammoth rock tour.

Check out a live version of “Sprinter” on WFUV:

Watch the video for Garbage’s gorgeously sad “Only Happy When It Rains”:

TORRES Tour Dates (new dates in bold):

Thu. June 25 —Allston, MA @ Great Scott

Fri. June 26 —New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge

Sat. June 27 —Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle

Sun. June 28 —Washington, D.C. @ DC9

Tue. June 30 —Durham, NC @ The Pinhook

Wed. July 1 —Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

Thu. July 2 —Chattanooga, TN @ Rhythm & Brews

Wed. July 22 —New York, NY @ Terminal 5 w/ Courtney Barnett, Speedy Ortiz

Fri. Sep. 4 — Doreset, UK @ End Of The Road Festival

Sun. Sep. 6 — Vlieland, NL @ Into The Great Wide Open Festival

Tue. Sep. 8 — Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso

Wed Sep. 09 — Koln, DE @ Degebaude 9

Fri. Sep. 11 — Brussels, BE @ Beursschouwburg

Sat. Sep. 12 — Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik

Sun. Sep. 13 — St. Galleen, CH @ Palace Theatre

Mon. Sep. 14 — Milano, IT @ Circolo Magnolia

Tue. Sep. 15 — Munich, DE @ Strom

Thu. Sep. 17 — Paris, FR     @ La Maroquinerie

Mon. Sep. 21 — Bristol, UK @ Louisiana

Tue. Sep. 22 — Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute

Wed. Sep. 23 — London, UK @ Scala
Tue. Oct. 6 — San Diego, CA @ Humphrey’s Concerts By The Bay w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 7 — Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater w/ Garbage
Thu. Oct. 8 — Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre-Los Angeles w/ Garbage
Sat. Oct. 10 — Las Vegas, NV @ The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas (Boulevard Pool) w/ Garbage
Tue. Oct. 13 — Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 14 — Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre w/ Garbage
Thu. Oct. 15 — Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom w/ Garbage
Sat. Oct. 17 — Chicago, IL @ The Riviera Theatre w/ Garbage
Sun. Oct. 18 — Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theater w/ Garbage
Mon. Oct. 19 — Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 21 — Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre w/ Garbage
Fri. Oct. 23 — Westbury, NY @ The Space at Westbury w/ Garbage
Sat. Oct. 24 — Brooklyn, NY @ Kings Theatre w/ Garbage
Mon. Oct. 26 — Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre w/ Garbage
Wed. Oct. 28 – Thu. Oct. 29 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club w/ Garbage

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Filed under Punk-rock, Rock, Tour Dates

Telekinesis debuts “A Future World” on Seattle’s KEXP

telekinesisTelekinesis’ new song, “A Future World,” comes as Benjamin Lerner’s settling down into spousal bliss and reassessing life’s priorities.

According to a press release:

“I went down to the basement,” Lerner recalls, “and started playing the same chords I always play… I just felt like I’d exhausted everything I knew. I was not excited at all. I just could not make another power-pop album.”

“A Future World” could not be considered power pop, that much is true. It lays heavy on the side of synth-pop but with plenty of bright heart.

The song debuted on Seattle’s KEXP today, and the link includes a trailer to the new album, “Ad Infinitum.”

Telekinesis, otherwise known as Benjamin Lerner, has been making music since 2009 with a self-titled debut. This will be the band’s fourth album.

The new album by Telekinesis, “Ad Infinitum,” is out Sept. 18. The band is going on tour with Say Hi in October in Washington with a possible European tour over the winter.

Check out their much different sound on “Power Lines” from 2013:

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Filed under New Music, Synth, Synth pop

Listen to Harrison Brome’s darkly glum “Fill Your Brains”

On Harrison Brome’s debut song “Fill Your Brains,” which debuted at The Fader on June 15, his wavy, shaky vocals recall the Black Keys’ blues drawl, but that’s where the similarities end.

The video is full of little spotlights from lit cigarettes and streetlights, further adding to the desolation, even though the people in the video at first seem to be having a good time. It begins to seem clear that they’re depending largely on the booze and the blunts to get through the night.

Watch the video for “Fill Your Brains” below:

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Filed under Blues, New Music, Rock