Sunday, February 13, 2011
Talk about a happy alternative. I had originally planned to see Javelin down at Glasslands on Friday, but upon arriving, I learned it was sold out. So I trudged over to Brooklyn Bowl, figuring the massive place would still have room. Thankfully, it did.
I fought my way through the crowd in time to see part of Dinosaur Feathers. The Brooklyn group had just returned from a jaunt to California and were happy to be back. It was an exuberant set, full of multi-part harmonies - although they often were yelps - and a gaudy, piercing synth. That particular instrument was a bit much, overpowering the mix and obliterating more subtle melodies.
Check out their free EP here and their Daytrotter Session here.
I saw headliners Beach Fossils at the Seaport in what feels like an eternity ago - the weather was much warmer, for sure. That set was a jangly, open-air affair, but I found the record a bit too cold, the reverb swallowing everything. "Daydream," with its incessant guitars, was a highlight, but I kept the rest of the songs at a distance.
Thankfully, their live performance is a much more vibrant affair. Singer Dustin Payseur's precise guitarwork and restrained vocals are the band's melodic centerpiece, but the drummer and (shoeless, neckless) bassist were what propelled them to a head-nodding groove. While there's a certain homogeneity in the band's palette, it created a cohesive mood.
And for the last few songs, the band rocked out, dancing around the stage and flailing at their instruments. Payseur slowly unwound his mic and leapt into the crowd, shattering the detachment.
Beach Fossils has a new EP coming out. Grab two older tracks at RCRD LBL.
Rest of the photos after the jump.
Friday, February 11, 2011
The Weekend In Dance: Ewan Pearson, A-Trak, The Twelves, Mister Saturday Night, Blkmarket, and Azari & III
A-Trak, known as one half of Duck Sauce and for being Kanye's touring DJ, will be playing at Lavo, a restuarant and bar. Resident Drek Martinez also plays. Not suer how admission works, but more info here.
FIXED's JDH and Dave P are going strong this week, bringing in the Twelves for a party at Good Units at the Hudson Hotel. Tickets here.
Saturday's stuff after the jump.
Good times as always at the Bunker last week. Ovum boss Josh Wink was on hand, taking over at the front room, but we were mostly in the back, checking a Delsin Records showcase. As usual, things were pitch black and moody, but I've been there so often that it's starting to feel like home.
Rest of the photos after jump.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Some sad news: Activision Blizzard has canceled the long-running Guitar Hero series, citing declines in the "music genre" (not to mention the music industry). The Journal has the company's stock numbers, which don't look great, but the publisher was still the top video game publisher in North America and Europe. Two huge titles from the Blizzard division boosted the company last year, but this cancellation speaks of the eroding interest in what has been a five-year marathon. In the end, Guitar Hero seemed to be supplanted by the more innovative Rock Band series, which sought to mimic real musicianship in its third installment.
I had many fond memories playing Guitar Hero 2 during college. I started out not knowing that you could hold down the "frets" while strumming, causing me to promptly fail "Message in a Bottle." But I eventually wised up and it was quite a thrill to beat "Free Bird" on Hard. Sadly, I would become more of a Rock Band fan when it was released, although I never did manage to beat "Green Grass and High Tides" on Expert.
Perhaps this decision will prompt some fans to pick up real guitars (from experience, I can say they aren't easy - I've since switched to trying to relearn piano), but we'll always have the memories.
Head over to DUMBO record shop Halcyon at 57 Pearl Street tonight at 7 pm to catch free DJ sets from Bea Tricks and Tamur Agha. You can also catch a stream of the show at dailysession.com. It's all part of a twice-monthly series called the Bandwagon. More info on today's show at Resident Advisor.
Monday, February 07, 2011
Last fall, Drew Norton set off to change the way music videos are made.
The filmmaker, whose credits include work for Phantogram and Micachu & the Shapes, was inspired by the emergence of British singer Darwin Deez, who used a green screen to catapult his single “Radar Detector” up the charts.
Norton reasoned that a green screen and some technical expertise provided a flexible template for up-and-coming bands, giving them a platform with the potential to go viral.
He saw the upcoming CMJ Music Marathon as an ideal opportunity to test out the theory, and rented out the Seaside Lounge recording studio in Park Slope, setting up Kino Flo lights and draping green on the walls. He dubbed the project Green Screening.
Norton used the website Kickstarter to raise just over $6,000 to fund the project, dangling goodies like mix CDs and other exclusives to donors. Thanks to the effort, he was able to shoot each band for no charge, while still managing to feed himself.
The end result was three video cameras and a battalion of helpers, including David Berman, Jake Kader, Michael Tai, Roy Nowlin, Zandy Mangold, James Wall, Matt Bockelman and Georgia Howe. The team completed interviews and photos shoots with each band.
By the end of production, each band will have an electronic press kit, a goodie bag of audio, visual and written content that publicists and labels pitch to music bloggers and critics. Although Norton had initially pitched the package to labels for a fee, they balked at paying for anything, leading him to pursue a more egalitarian method of financing through Kickstarter.
“People don’t understand how important they are,” says Norton, referring specifically to videos. “They don’t find you on MySpace, they find you on YouTube.”
Despite the early setback, the bands were surprisingly punctual and reliable, with only three of the scheduled 31 not making it. Fueled by booze and the frenetic energy of the week, the result was over a terabyte of recorded material, and limitless possibilities, thanks to the green screen.
“It exceeded expectations in so many ways,” says Norton. “It was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever been a part of.”
Requests for video themes ranged from the ridiculous - a donkey sticking its head into a bowl of chocolate and shooting lasers out of its eyes - to the even more ridiculous. One band wanted to get shot out of a volcano, fly through the sky and eventually land on a “ginormous” private yacht.
Since that autumn week, Norton has been deliberately moving through footage, having released videos from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Soft Black. He expects to spend most of the next year editing footage, and the Brooklyn band Friends is slated to have the next video.
Norton grew up in Reston, Virginia, a planned community with a man-made lake near Washington D.C. Although it was envisioned to be a suburban paradise by urban developer Robert E. Simon, the town had issues with congestion and even endured an Ebola virus scare in 1989.
“He’s called it the biggest failure of his career,” says Norton, although Reston has since attracting companies such as AOL and Sprint Nextel to move into nearby office space.
Still, Norton knew that he didn’t want to follow the path of many of his fellow students, who went to nearby schools like the University of Virginia, James Madison University or Virginia Tech.
With encouragement from his father, who told him to expand his perspectives, Norton went to New York, still remembering the moment when he arrived, traveling up the West Village, along the Hudson River.
“It took my breath away, immediately,” he says.
Norton attended New York University, studying Spanish American Literature and Interwar European Politics. His interest in film came later, post-graduation, when he began working as a production assistant.
He worked at Michael Schrom and Company, doing commercial and television work, but his immediate passion was always music videos.
From the onset, Norton made it clear that his project would be a labor of love, rather than work. Although he had explored some collaborations, Green Screening is currently free of third parties, aside from the uniforms of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
“I think I would take a sponsor, but they would have to be unobtrusive and really care about young new music,” he says.
But for now, he’s managed to keep moving forward, although his focus on Green Screening means that he doesn’t have the time to take on paid projects. And while he’s hopeful that some angel investor will suddenly appear, for now, he’s committed to soldiering ahead on his own.
“I like the fact that everything will be given away for free,” he says. “I don’t want to get rich off other people’s material.”
Videos and mp3s courtesy of Green Screening and Drew Norton.
MP3: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - "Simple Girl (Live at Green Screening)"
MP3: Soft Black - "Lions (Live at Green Screening)"
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
|Citigroup's 399 Park Avenue and EMI's 150 Fifth Avenue, via PropertyShark|
As the month turned over, Citigroup wasted no time in taking control of EMI. The move came as a surprise to former owner Terra Firma, which was expecting to default on its debt before ceding control to the bank. During the takeover, Citi wrote off $3.5 billion of EMI's debt, leaving it with $1.9 billion, but the improved balance sheet is unlikely to change the label's next step: being sold to the highest bidder. NPR compares the label to a house burdened by a subprime mortgage.
As far as potential buyers, Warner has been seen as the frontrunner, even as it considers selling its publishing division, which could, in turn, finance a bid for EMI's back catalog, the most lucrative part of the label. Another contender is BMG Rights Management, a partnership of Bertelsmann and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR), which has considered buying before.
Either way, the future of the EMI looks precarious.