Monday, September 28, 2009

The XX

XX is the debut album for The xx, a South West London quartet who aren’t even old enough to drink in United States. The four 20-year olds met at Elliott School in London, whose notable alumni include Hot Chip, Four Tet and dubstep producer Burial. The band consists Romy Madley Croft on vocals and guitarist, Oliver Sim on vocals and bass, Baria Quershi on guitar and Jamie Smith on sampler.

The album's opening number is a 2 minute instrumental prelude into this dreamy pop album. The song is reminiscent of something you’d hear on a Pure Moods CD commercial with its new age guitar riff, tribal drum beat and chanting. “VCR” begins with a toy xylophone melody which is quickly joined by a down tempo guitar rift. The album’s second single “Crystallized,” is undeniably the album’s stand out track; commencing with a gradually increasingly high pitch “oooh” sound which becomes almost uncomfortable until interrupted by an arpeggio of guitar chords. “Islands,” is the most upbeat track of the entire track which offers some sort of hope for love.

“Fantasy” is a sensual, yet disconnected reverb heavy track that seems to serve no real purpose other than an introductory to the sultry “Shelter.” The only thing perpetual about “Infinity” is Sim’s persistence in pleading Oliver to “give it up.”Oliver repeatedly refutes with a soft, almost desensitized “I can’t give it up.” The last track entitled “Stars” begins with a heavy bass line which seems like it’s going to go in the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.” After a few strums, the beat is abruptly consumed by a sequence of three piano notes which play over and over throughout the song.

This overtly sensual and slow-strummed album encompasses a theme relating to relationships, feelings, and love, and has become a personal favorite. I look forward seeing The xx when they open up for Friendly Fires at the Mohawk on Thursday, November 19. You can buy your tickets at the door.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back to the drawing board, literally.

I used to have my own comic strip in my hometown newspaper and in the college paper at Texas Stae. I kind of stopped drawing for a while because when it becomes a job it often isn't fun anymore. Anyhow, I've decided to start drawing again. I'll upload NEW and old in the coming days.

Monolith Festival-Sunday


The sun radiated through the early morning clouds and light drizzle for the majority of day two at Monolith, which hosted a crowd sporting more neon than an American Apparel display window.

Rahzel, virtuoso beatboxer and former member of The Roots began his routine at the Esurance (Main) Stage at 2 p.m.

A line of almost 40 people long formed outside the Woxy Stage set up in an interior room of the venue’s lower deck, in hopes of catching indie-electro duo Neon Indian---which filled to capacity 30 minutes before show time. The band originally hailing from Brooklyn recently re-located to Austin. They are scheduled to play an ACL after show at Emo’s and Fun Fun Fun Fest.

During that time, garage/prog-rock group Monotonix of Tel Aviv, Isreal rocked in nothing but 70’s short shorts and chest hair at the Southern Comfort Stage. The setup was one which took place within the audience. Even before finishing the first song, singer Ami Shalev stage-dove into the crowd and gauchely crawled and climbed on enthused hipsters. Banned in several venues around the world including Flamingo Cantina located here in Austin, the trio are notorious for their over the top antics which include setting things on fire, beer spitting, climbing on bars and over-zealous interactions with fans.

Following the energetic performance we sat down with guitarist Yonatan Gat, singer Ami Shalev and drummer Haggai Fershtman.
CC: What’s the origin of name Monotonix?
HF: Too long to describe it, it’s a very complicated story.
YG: When Haggai went to art school, when he was a teenager, everybody thought he was retarded... It’s just his lip went to the side a little bit. And he would say the same thing over and over again and everyone would say “you are very monotonic” and then we added the “x,” because he couldn’t say ‘x’.
HF: This is the real story.
YG: It’s the first time we tell anybody.

CC: How did you snap out of it?
YG: He got a chicken bone stuck in his throat once and Avi gave him the Heimlich and ever since he stopped being a “retard.”
HF: Monotonix! Monotonix… I could say the ‘x’.

CC: Where have you performed and what are your favorite and least favorite venues?
HF: Austin is one of the best!
YG: Austin is fun. We played good shows at a place called the Mohawk, we played SXSW. One of the venues we don’t like is Flamingo Cantina because we’re banned from there.

CC: How much lighter fluid do you go through in a tour? Usually you light your drums on fire.
AS: Depends. Sometimes if it’s too crowd, we can’t use the lighter fluid. We have to talk to the venues, fire is sensitive issue.

CC: What kind of access do fans have to your music?
HF: Combination of many things. Record company… iTunes, Myspace.. We have a Twitter that someone we don’t know is doing.

CC: Someone you don’t know is tweeting for you?
YG: We have a fan twitter.
HF: Yeah, he’s twittering! Haha…

CC: Israel is pretty far away. Do you have a US home base?
AS: We have friends that we love, they love us and we see them while we’re touring. But home is where the heart is, like Frank Zappa’s song.
Quite the opposite of their crazy, raucous stage personas, the trio was reserved yet charismatic. They are scheduled to play Emo’s (outside) Friday, September 25. You can buy tickets HERE!

Check out this amateur video we got of them at Monolith!

The Glitch Mob dropped dope beats on the Esurance stage while one of this year’s most anticipated acts Passion Pit rocked the Southern Comfort stage. The pavement slab in front of the stage vibrated and shook throughout the set, especially during the dance-y number “Sleepyhead.”

MSTRKRFT canceled their appearance at Monolith due to an untimely illness. Replacing them on the main stage were French alternative rock band Phoenix. They opened up with "Lisztomania,” the first single of their upcoming album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. In spite of the slow start, the band had the entire venue dancing with their jaw-dropping performance.

Concluding the evening were experimental-progressive rockers The Mars Volta. They commenced their powerful set with “Inertiatic ESP,” off their 2004 release De-Loused in the Comatorium. Their stage set featured an array of psychedelic colors and patterns on the rock wall behind them. They ended with “Wax Simulacra,” the first single off their fourth studio album The Bedlam in Goliath.

Monolith Festival-Saturday

The third annual Monolith Festival was this past weekend at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado. The two day fest was undoubtedly a hipster’s wet dream with acts such as Girl Talk, Passion Pit, Phoneix, M. Ward, Of Montreal, and Neon Indian to name a few. Despite a downpour of intermittent showers and temperatures in the upper 40’s on Saturday, indie-fans congregated for what has to be the biggest catalog of indie acts at one venue.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart played at the Southern Comfort stage amidst steady rainfall. In spite of the low temperatures and cold rain, they remained ardent and even joked that they were the ‘Rains of Being Pure of Heart.’

Ok Go played on the larger stage sponsored by Esurance. Mid set, Damian Kulash stepped over the railing into the rain with his guitar and told the crowd that this would probably be the only time they’d see him literally playing in the rain.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen crooned tracks off the You & Me album on the upper level Southern Comfort stage. Almost like lightning the mellowed-out crowd broke into a dance at the start of “The Rat,” the hit single from the band’s debut album Bows + Arrows. Following The Walkmen on that stage was iron-masked DOOM, whose set up took longer than 30 minutes due to technical difficulties.

After a raging set, the masses made their way towards the main stage where Girl Talk, aka Greg Gillis remixed and mashed up samples ranging from Missy Elliot to Flashdance to the Jackson 5. Rain poured heavily throughout the set while presumably over 100 fans crowded Gillis on stage.

Ending the evening were the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. While the audience had thinned out to almost a 3rd of the seating due to weather conditions, the confetti, extravagant stage d├ęcor, and Karen O’s multi-color bell sleeve romper were more than enough to rock the house. Among the songs played were "Heads Will Roll," "Zero," and “Maps.” The encore was "Y Control.”

Here’s some amateur video we got of the YYY’s performing Black Tongue:

All photos courtesy of Mary Rehak. Go here to see more shots from the festival. We'll have a recap of Sunday at Monolith up shortly...