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Album Picks: Melody's Echo Chamber, Chris Cohen, The Soft Pack, Lavender Diamond, Plus Albums Out Tuesday

Posted by Billy Gil, September 25, 2012 04:30pm | Post a Comment
Album Picks:
 
Melody's Echo ChamberMelody’s Echo ChamberMelody’s Echo Chamber
 
My favorite new band out right now is Melody’s Echo Chamber, whose enchanting self-titled debut is a study in ebullient dream-pop perfection. The story goes that Melody Prochet hooked up with Aussie psych-rock greats Tame Impala, calling on the band’s Kevin Parer to beef up her beauteous, French-pop-inspired arrangements with the kind of soaring sonics employed by that band. What comes out is indeed a perfect marriage. It’s one of those records where the cover perfectly captures the mood: mysterious, colorful and ethereal, you get lost in the folds of this record and don’t want to come out. Fans of Broadcast and Blonde Redhead, take note. The only downside is that aside from a few strong standouts, like the garage rocky opener “I Follow You” and lush (and Lush-esque) “Endless Shore,” the record blurs together. No matter — for fans of this kind of thing, you won’t know where the time has gone. As with like-minded peers A Sunny Day in Glasgow, the emphasis is more on album as experience, following dissociative dream logic in which melodies and arrangements are allowed to meander and linger and flow into one another in a singular happening. In a word, divine.
 
 
Chris CohenChris CohenOvergrown Path
 
Chris Cohen is one of the great underappreciated guitar players of our generation — listen back to Deerhoof records from when he was in the band for proof of his and John Dieterich’s insane riffery and interplay. Since leaving that band, he’s spent time with projects such as Cryptacize, but now on his first solo album and John Cale Paris 1919 moment, we get to see what a strong singer, songwriter and arranger he is, as well. “Monad” opens the album with the sort of skewed guitarwork that will make early Deerhoof fans squeal, but that quickly fades into a brisk, smart soft-pop track punctuated by splashy drums, not unlike one of Yo La Tengo’s more ornate songs. Cohen packs his intricate guitarwork into skilled compositions, such as the Latin-psych vibing “Caller No.99,” in a way that was never as apparent in his flashier Deerhoof contributions. Though his voice is unremarkable, its nice-guy pleasantness carries listeners swiftly through mellow but tricky compositions, avoiding the sort of fussiness that could have resulted with punchier performances. By the time you arrive at the sweet “bum bum bum bums” of the irresistible “Optimist High,” you’re floating on a cloud of contentment and ready to follow Cohen just about anywhere. Overgrown Path is really the perfect fall album, cozy and warm and subtly, almost magically, life-affirming.
 

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Local Stuff: New Albums Coming From The Fresh & Onlys, Lavender Diamond

Posted by Billy Gil, June 29, 2012 01:14pm | Post a Comment

The Fresh & OnlysSan Francisco’s The Fresh & Onlys have announced the title, Long Slow Dance, and tracklist for their new album, as well as tour dates for a West Coast tour. For anyone who loved 2010’s Play It Strange, and there were plenty of us, the news of a new album from The Fresh & Onlys is exciting stuff. From the sound of “Yes or No,” they’ve ditched a lot of the reverb for a more straightforward shimmery rock sound. I say all the better; “Yes or No” is the best thing I’ve heard from them yet, unafraid to hide its gorgeous melody in the garage. The album comes out Sept. 4 on Mexican Summer.
 
 

Tour dates:
 
07/21 San Francisco, CA Phono Del Sol
08/05 Big Sur, CA Woodsist Fest / Henry Miller Library
09/05 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room *
09/06 San Diego, CA Soda Bar *
09/07 Los Angeles, CA The Echo *
09/08 San Francisco, CA The Independent *
09/09 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst Atrium *
09/11 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades *
09/13 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios *#
09/14 Bellingham, WA The Shakedown *
09/15 Vancouver, BC The Media Club *
09/16 Seattle, WA Crocodile *
 
* = with Terry Malts
# = with Grass Widow
 
 
Tracklist: 
 
1. 20 Days and 20 Nights
2. Yes or No
3. Long Slow Dance
4. Presence of Mind
5. Dream Girls
6. Fire Alarm
7. Executioner's Song
8. No Regard
9. Euphoria
10. Foolish Person
11. Wanna Do Right By You
 
 
 
I’m a huge fan of L.A.’s Lavender Diamond. There are few artists you can say are truly “special,” and Lavender Diamond and their frontwoman, Becky Stark, truly are. This week they released the first song, “Oh My Beautiful World,” from their upcoming new album, Incorruptible Heart, due Sept. 25 on Paracadute. On releases like Imagine Our Love and The Cavalry of Light EP, Stark and co. constructed grandiose folk-rock songs that relayed a disarming, unforced naivete. “Oh My Beautiful World” has glorious harmonies, sounding somewhat like Stark’s other musical project, The Living Sisters, but producer David Fridman (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) ups the girl group quotient with big “Be My Baby” drums and acidic breakdowns partway through. I never would have thought to pair Fridman with Lavender Diamond, and I can’t wait to hear what else they come up with.
 

 
Tracklist:
 
1.     Everybody's Heart's Breaking Now
2.     Dragonfly
3.     I Don't Recall
4.     Just Passing By
5.     Teach Me How to Waken
6.     Come Home
7.     Forgive
8.     Light My Way
9.     Oh My Beautiful World
10.  Perfect Love
11.  Everybody's Song
12.  All The Stars
 

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Interview with Rock Photographer Alissa Anderson - Part 1

Posted by Miss Ess, March 4, 2010 05:40pm | Post a Comment
devendra banhart

Devendra Banhart - Benicassim Festival - 2005

Alissa Anderson is one fabulous rock photographer! She has dedicated herself to chronicling the likes of Vetiver, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Neil and Pegi Young, Michael Hurley, Vashti Bunyan, Papercuts, Conor Oberst, Espers, Lavender Diamond, CocoRosie, Tussle, Citay, and bunches of other musicians currently making the scene, taking candid live shots, as well as promotional stills and also shooting multiple album covers . She has born witness both here in San Francisco and across the world to one of the most vibrant and exciting music scenes ever, and has documented it all for our visual pleasure. I recently interviewed Alissa to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and her peak artistic moments. Because there are so many photos (some exclusive!) in this interview, there will be two parts. Part Two is right here!