Preoccupy My Brain Tour
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Lola’s Room; Portland, OR
If you find yourself witnessing an excessive amount of hair flipping, spastic jamming, and a uniform of tie-dye and Vans, you’re most likely at a King Shelter show. The foursome commanded the small stage in Portland on Tuesday night with a natural ease and exuberant presence. The Southern California-based group coined the term “salad rock”, best described as a combo of surf/indie/grunge/pop music.
Opening the night with their playful track, ”LuvSub”, the bond of the group was clear from the start with their youthful energy that couldn’t help but put a smile on your face. The night started on a lighthearted note with the theme of failed love and cheery guitar. The vocalist, Taylor, is extremely animated and entertaining to watch as the consistent pang of emotion emerges with each quivering lyric. King Shelter accomplishes a truly organic sound that doesn’t forced when on stage.
The three guitarists Taylor, David, and John bounced spastically along the stage during the majority of the set, colliding into each other, and at one point, dismantling a few speakers and tripping up cables from Adam’s drum set, all in the end brushing it off like it was a normal occurrence.
Their set had a few micro guitar jam sessions sprinkled in that let their more grunge-rock side come through with shouty vocals and heavy drums and guitar, and some more hair flipping. The tracks “People Change” and “Failure” was a genuine, blunt portrayal of their sassier, emotional sides. The trembling, imperfect vocals mixed with their surfer-edge guitar aesthetic is what differentiates this group among other cookie cutter indie-rock out there.
The group played a new track titled “Everything Hurts” they introduced: “To David, R.I.P., man”, which was a lighthearted, comedic track despite its title. Ending the show with the catchy track “Holy Ghost” brought their fun-loving demeanor full circle. These guys have an automatic, natural likability and edge that oozes West Coast cool. They know how to have fun and how to command a room with their versatile sound that keeps listeners engaged.
Descending from the country of Poland, Brodka (Monika Brodka) broke out into the music world after winning the third season of Polish Pop Idol in 2004. Having already released three previously acclaimed albums, Clashes is her first album released in English; while studying classical music as a child, Brodka also listened to death metal and grunge bands which significantly influences her sound. Haunting and dramatic instrumentals accompany her delicate vocals throughout the entirety of the album, nailing the juxtaposition of uniting dark and soft elements.
Her strong orchestral and avant-garde approach to music is what differentiates herself among current pop artists and the genre as a whole. Her vocal style is similar to the likes of Lana Del Rey and Radiation City possessing a romantic, whimsical voice that seamlessly slows from one range to the next. This is one of those albums you must be in the mood for to truly appreciate her point of view and musical elements where sinister, melancholy sounds meets chaotic alternative.
The California band Yellow Red Sparks exude a fresh new
perspective on the indie-folk genre. The duo, Joshua Hanson and Sara Lynn Nishikawa, emit a joyful and quirky vibe that immediately caught my ear from the start;
they don’t hesitate to embrace a full range of instruments making them sound
much bigger than themselves.
Yellow Red Sparks takes the core of the classic folk genre and runs
with it to make it their own in this EP through elements of an upbeat and
whimsical ambiance that is contagious. Paired with the lightness of their
music, comes with some seriously melancholy and heart wrenching lyrics.
The lighthearted first track “I Want My Knife Back” is a fun
introduction to the album as it encompasses their signature care-free energy.
There is true emotion, hardships and life struggles being discussed that are
all juxtaposed cleverly with their overall exuberance. The track “I’m Fine” is similar in theme and
is one of the only tracks where I clearly hear the voice of Sara throughout,
while most vocals seem dominated by Joshua.
The tracks “Seven Seas” and “If I Get It, Then You’ve Got It” is
a perfect example of the bands mastery of the depressingly beautiful theme of
love lost through the dramatic musical composition and somber lyricism. Other
slower tracks like “New Fangs (Darkling)” oozes of a classic love song that
highlights the vocals of Joshua paired with the acoustic guitar.
“Violet” is blunt and quirky love song framed in a haunting,
bitter light lyrically that contrasts perfectly with the joyous guitar and
percussion. Unexpected beachy-esque guitar riffs throughout the album added a
unique flare to their folk sound, especially in this track.
This band has the ability to take the mundane, every-day problems
of relationships and life and create an exciting, unpredictable whirlwind of
sounds revolving around pure jubilation. There is an honest and genuine
component to them that makes their music naturally relatable and lovable.
Release date: October 16th, 2015 Run time: 21 minutes Rating: 5/5
Track listing: 1. I
Want My Knife Back 2. Seven
Seas 3. If I
Get It, Then You’ve Got It 4. I’m
Fine 5. Violet 6. New
My musical journey in 2015 revolved around some serious bad ass
girl power while also uncovering my newfound love for bluesy-rock and soul
music from the likes of Alabama Shakes and Nathaniel Rateliff who have become
my new favorites. And, with a new year, comes with the top go-to party jam; I
mean, who could deny the pure, sick joy that came over you when “Trap Queen”
came on, no matter where you were.
This was definitely the year of Miguel for me – his album Wildheart was one of the most played
full-length albums by me this year, clearly, since I had to put more than one
of his songs from the album on my list!
Happy New Year and cheers to more good music in 2016! Check out my playlist below!
Queen” by: Fetty Wap 2. “Don’t
Wanna Fight” by: Alabama Shakes 3. “Pretty
Thoughts” by: Alina Baraz 4. “waves”
by: Miguel 5. “Old
Thing Back” (feat. Ja Rule & Ralph Tresvant) by: Matoma, The Notorious
B.I.G 6. “Here”
by: Alessia Cara 7. “The
Hills” by: The Weeknd 8. “Got
It” by: Marian Hill 9. “Gooey”
by: Glass Animals 10. “Lampshades on Fire” by: Modest Mouse 11. “Coffee”
by: Miguel featuring Wale 12. “Watch My
Back” by: Basecamp 13. “Lean On”
by: Major Lazer 14. “Hotline
Bling” by: Drake 15. “S.O.B”
by: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 16. “The
Blacker The Berry” by: Kendrick Lamar 17. “Falling
Short” by: Lapsley 18. “You Know
You Like It” by: DJ Snake, AlunaGeorge 19. “Reelin” by: Iration 20. “Roses”
by: The Chainsmokers, ROZES
UK rock band, Lower Than Atlantis, has re-released their 2014
self-titled album with a new deluxe edition. Titled Lower Than Atlantis:
Black Edition, the deluxe album includes 15 bonus tracks with
fresh new songs, live sets, and four covers. The album is a spot-on portrayal
of the groups overall musical growth and versatility. The two discs showcase
the true evolution and experimentalism of the bands signature punk rock sound.
The raw, aggressive vocals from Mike Duce, guitar from Ben Sansome and Dec Hart, and percussion
elements from Eddy Thrower, are incorporated and manipulated in different ways that
haven’t been heard before on their previous albums.
The first disc containing their 2014 album can be summed up as
controlled chaos – the good kind. Lower Than Atlantis has their sound down to
a science; it is a perfect balance of energetic, catchy vocals and heavy
electric guitar flare that weave together a recipe for a classic punk pop rock
vibe. The first track “Here We Go” shows their
mastery with the electric guitar in constant sync with Duce’s smooth,
meets angsty vocals providing just the right level of a commanding, yet
The track “English Kids in America” tells the story of the bands
personal and professional journey as they packed up their lives in the UK to
pursue their musical dreams in the United States. This track embraces the theme
of the entire album which revolves around finding oneself and enjoying the ride
despite the challenges. Lower Than Atlantis naturally emits a strong sense of
nostalgia, lyrically. The band continually expresses the internal struggle of
wanting to hold on to one’s youth, reminding us all to live in the moment
making their overall message relatable, genuine and respectable.
The tracks “Criminal” and “Ain’t No Friend” highlight their pure
punk rock sound through Duce’s grungy vocals paired with the booming electric
guitar and drums. There is also a contrasting vulnerable side in the tracks:
“Words Don’t Come Easily” with a soft intro coming from the acoustic guitar
that crescendos to an unexpected punch of electric guitar and bass to remind us
of their signature rock roots. “Emily” is a similar, lighthearted track with a nostalgic pop rock
Lower Than Atlantis captures the aura of young rebellion so
effortlessly which isn’t a surprise considering the bands influence from
blink-182 that is reflective in the care-free tracks: “Stays The Same,” “Live
Slow Die Old” and “Time.”
Each track on the two discs are thoughtfully placed in order to
accurately tell their story. The last track on the first disc titled “Number
One,” belts out determined vocals with lyrics of hopes for the future. The
album concludes on an optimistic note as it leaves the past behind, ending with
the future at the fore-front of their minds that may be suggesting a potential
The second disc is a collection and representation of the bands
musical maturity as they incorporate more experimental sounds that veer to a
softer indie-rock influence with some jazz and soul sprinkled in for the hell
of it. However, the group still proves they haven’t abandoned their roots or
youth in the humorous tracks “Sewer Side” and “Superhero.”
The live lounge covers are one of the most unexpected and
exciting elements on the album. The influence of the live environment
highlights Duce’s true vocal talent. The track “Real Love” is a duet with a
female artist that is an impressive showcase of Duce’s raw vocal ability. His
voice is vulnerable and naked as it is complemented by the soulful saxophone.
Alternate versions of the popular tracks: “Here We Go” and “Ain’t No Friend” to
name a few, possess a fresh acoustic, almost reggae-inspired flare that highlights
the simplicity of the guitar and vocals.
The deluxe album Lower Than Atlantis: Black Edition is
a truly well composed documentation of the bands musical journey and overall
maturity. The thoughtful compilation and versatility of song decisions is
successful and will dub to be a timeless collection of pop punk rock music.
Release Date: November 20, 2015 Rating: 4/5
CD 1 1. Here We Go 2. Ain’t No Friend of Mine 3. English Kids In America 4. Criminal 5. Words Don’t Come So Easily 6. Emily 7. Stays The Same 8. Live Slow, Die Old 9. Damn Nation 10. Time 11. Just What You Need 12. Number One
CD 2 1. Get Over It 2. The Reason 3. I’m Partying 4. Superhero 5. Sewer Side 6. Real Love (Live Lounge Performance) 7. Am I Wrong (Live Lounge Performance) 8. Strong 9. Wish You Were Here 10. Everybody Wants To Rule The World 11. A Thousand Miles 12. Here We Go (Alt Version) 13. English Kids In America (Alt Version) 14. Words Don’t Come So Easily (Alt Version) 15. Ain’t No Friend (Alt Version)
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Crystal Ballroom; Portland, OR
Written by Kelsey Rzepecki
Portland could not get enough of Electro Pop duo, Chreub, delighting us all with a long set last Thursday that went into the early morning. The night started with the bass-heavy Hippie Sabotage as the ballroom emerged into a vibrating, up-beat atmosphere playing all of their hit songs including ending their set with the timeless track “Your Soul”.
It wasn’t long before the signature eclectic 80s pop inspired sound of Cherub emerged, automatically heightening the mood. The crowd was
pleasantly surprised, opening with their popular “XOXO”. These two are a definite crowd pleaser as they possess a kind of genuine, fun energy that permanently radiates off the stage.
Their tracks “Work the Middle” and “Tonight” emitted their more
vulnerable, romantic side as you could feel the charismatic, fun-loving vibe. It is clear the two deeply appreciate their fans as they made sure to take minimal breaks between songs in order to keep the dance party going.
It got a little more sensual with their hip-hop inspired “Freaky Me, Freaky You” track with slow, heavy bass as the crowd started coupling up to find a dance partner. During their set, Cherub easily covered all of their hits from their various albums and then some, making for some seriously satisfied fans.
The fans knew what had to come next as Cherub took the stage for
their encore with their hit “Doses & Mimosas” that was the climax to a
phenomenal show. Suddenly the crowd became disoriented as our care-free, fun bubble burst and there we were, back in reality. If you have the chance to check them out touring near you, I would urge you a thousand times, yes!
Singer/songwriter LOREN, at only 15 years old, is rebelling against the stereotype of cliche teen pop. Her style is inventive and refreshing; but most respectably, it’s individualistic. She embraces an indie pop sound that pairs seamlessly with her soft vocals.
A single off of the EP, “Broken Telephone”, is a charming example of
her youthful point of view – a story of a typical mean girls vs. outcasts
scenario. Free spirited guitar and drums emit a light and care-free sound despite the angst of the story being told through the lyrics. The hint of subtle angst in her lyrics mixed with lighthearted pop creates the perfect recipe for describing the high school challenges of growing up; good and bad.
LOREN’s EP provides a relatable and genuine perspective on the frustrating and awkward first love experiences in the tween years of life. The track “Love Birds” is a prime example about young love and growing apart with a duet with male singer, KRISTO framed as the significant other. The track “Echo” is similar in storyline, but channels a
more whimsical, alternative sound showcasing LOREN’s experimentalism.
LOREN’s influences include Sia, Florence and the Machine, and classical artists Bach and Chopin which explains the musical range she embraces using dramatic classical aspects of string instruments as heard in the track “Runaways”.
“Foreign Love” is one of the most eccentric tracks on the EP along with “Echo” which highlights her vocal talent through vulnerable, moody lyricism. Being young to the music industry, there’s no question LOREN can only grow more talented as an artist as time goes on.
Release Date: October 23, 2015
Run time: ~13 minutes
3. Love Birds
Sudden Suspension embodies the infamous punk-pop teenage angst driven genre as the boys keep it real and uncensored through emotion filled lyrics along with the signature whiny vocals paired with electric guitars and plenty of drums. Their EP titled There’s a Bigger Picture Here, is a bluntly honest documentation of the day-to-day life struggles and emotions felt by anyone who has ever grown up as a hormonal teenager.
The group tells it like it is embracing their badass, spunky attitude channeling the notorious punk-pop sounds with sad vocals and a bold dose of irony especially through the catchy track “We’ll Always Have Each Other” consisting of a repetitive chanting of the line “…just don’t forget to pretend that it gets better than this…” written from the perspective of first person, as if he were talking to himself about the lessons he will learn.
With the genre usually appealing to a younger demographic, the young bandmates possess a mature, realistic grasp on reality and are anything but naive about the world. The track “As Good as It Gets” is like an ultimate smack in the face of reality expressing the importance of looking out for yourself and to not rely on anyone to save you. The lyrics and vocals come out genuine and possess an ironic tone almost mocking his own stupidity in realizing his mistakes but also growing from them.
“Eventually” is one of the more brutally honest and vulnerable tracks on the EP. He accentuates each verse, taking one pang to the heart and ego after the next – it is like he is reading a passage out of his own diary; and he very well could be.
The other tracks titled “Cheap Seats”, “Footsteps”, and “Back Roads” all kind of speak for themselves with the ongoing theme of moving forward, growth and learning. Although the group is predictable in this regard, they thrive on their positive message and embrace it wholeheartedly.
The group has a strong perspective that resonates with many people and this album. This EP serves as an ode of hope and skewed positivity venting out all the misconceptions and challenges we all have to fae. This band has more than likely just begun its growth and
popularity and no doubt will continue to grow their following of fans.
Released June 16th, 2015
Run Time: ~16mins
1. Where I Left It
2. As Good as It Gets
4. We’ll Always Have Each Other
5. Cheap Seats
7. Back Roads
Mandolin Orange Show Review
Doug Fir Lounge – June 10th, 2015
The humble duo Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin who make up the band Mandolin Orange, charmed the crowd last Wednesday night with their constant comical banter back and forth with the audience. The two embody a style and sound blending new and old traditions of the folk- bluegrass genre that is multigenerational, proven by the diversity of the audience.
Opening with an older song, “These Old Wheels”, set the tone of who they are as artists as the respectable silence spread quickly amongst the crowd. Their experienced instrumental ability was the true showcase of their talents and performance. Frequent instruments were swapped out thoughtfully for each song as the fiddle made a dominant debut as the fan favorite. Andrew went in for a lengthy jam session, facial spasms aligning with each note as sporadic yells and whistles were hollered out from the crowd.
The set continued with songs from their newest album, Such Jubilee, which was released last month. The song “Little Worlds” began as Emily and Andrew matched in unison flawlessly, their musical chemistry clearly mastered. A frantic violin solo from Emily erupted as well as more yelps and screams from the crowd. They ended track after track by cracking a joke and conversing with the audience that was refreshing, immediately lightening the mood to break the trance of their melancholy lyrics.
Emily gave the crowd a fair warning about the sad set that was to come, introducing the next track as a classic Nashville style song called “There Was A Time,” possessing a country-like twang about a bitter love ending. Subtle murmurs of the crowd singing along with the lyrics could be heard throughout the night.
The instrumentally savvy duo could practically play in their sleep, as both Emily and Andrew kept their eyes closed while singing, taking care in each note with the facial expressions to match, embracing the music and sounds coming from the fiddle, guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and violin especially through the songs “Turtledove & The Crow” and “Hey Adam”.
With little breaks between songs, “Rounder” began and was described as a cowboy style song as Emily swapped out her acoustic guitar for an electric, switching up the sound. The saddest part of the set was yet to come through the song “Blue Ruin” as she explained how it was written and dedicated for the children lost in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown. Somber sniffles could be heard from all around as everyone listened respectively in silence.
Refusing to believe the night would end on that note, Mandolin Orange emerged for their encore, not even after five minutes turning the night around to heighten the energy. “Here’s a song about Whiskey…” Emily announced, as they emerged with their fun tracks “Waltz with Whiskey” and “One More Down.” They were a complete mood changer, ending on a high note with rambunctious dancing and a free-spirited sensation in the atmosphere. Mandolin Orange possess an effortless flair in their ability to incorporate a range of classic folk string instruments that is timeless. It was a night for appreciation of quality musicianship and simplicity of classic roots of folk music.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
Crystal Ballroom; Portland, OR
A big “Howdy Ya’ll!“ came from the voice of Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known as Shakey Graves, as he introduced himself with a friendly toothy grin to the audience on Wednesday night. The Pacific Northwest was granted a little dose of Southern Hospitality that night as the historic Crystal Ballroom was transformed into a sweaty, funky folk love fest. Strong scents of incense and body odor were the recipe for a lively audience with
nothing but smiles.
The singer-songwriter from Houston, TX has deemed himself to be more of a one-man show, but tonight he was accompanied by another backup guitarist and drummer beginning with lengthy guitar jams. The familiar track “House of Winston” began to play as constant foot stomping vibrations from the floor heightened.
The unexpected presence of the accompanied band helped to add a heavier rock n’ roll element compared to his otherwise more acoustic sounds of most of his music – especially in the upbeat track, “The Perfect Parts.” Shakey Graves also did a decent job of balancing his set out by slowing it down with mellow, romantic tracks such as “Proper Fence” as he recalled an anecdote of young love he found at the age of seventeen.
The charisma and musical ability was impossible to ignore in the slower, more sensitive songs like “If Not For You” while the quirky “Pansy Waltz” was a classic portrayal of Shakey Graves’ pure originality. You could see his spastic facial expressions and delicately flailing arms moving to the beat of the music; Alejandro’s signature raspy wails sounding just as perfect as if you were playing him from your own speakers.
Covering the majority of tracks off his most recent album, And The War Came, the absence of Esmé Patterson was the missing link in the nights set alongside Shakey Graves in delivering a wholesome performance. During their popular duet in “Dearly Departed,” the audience failed miserably trying to pick up the slack, singing along with her verse in the song. It was unfortunate as they both had recently performed together just days earlier at the Sasquatch! Music Festival.
The show concluded with a stripped down encore of the hit “Hard Wired,” a prime example of Shakey Graves’ genuine style as a musician. The night was a celebration of enjoying being alive filled with an explosion of heart-pumping, toe-tapping dancing. Shakey Graves oozes a hauntingly beautiful, rugged and raw element through his music and showmanship that is truly one of a kind.