Friday, June 26, 2009

Sonicbids Spotlight: Variety Lab

(Originally Published @

France-based quirky dance-pop act Variety Lab take their hip-shaking cues from '70s mainstream French pop hit influences known as "la variété" and modern engineering that causes an unprecedented contagion in the foot-tapping area. With songs that blossom out from boogie bass lines and soulful, sultry vocals into Zappa-esque guitars and back again, Variety Lab make pliant music that isn't limited to the electro-dance genre because their main objective is creating pop.

Without hesitation they draw influences from Tropicalia vibes and secret crushes on Frances Gall and carefully wrap their myriad influences into an assemblage of pop soldiers that arm their synths, horns, retrofitted keys and genre-spanning lead vocalists on their diverse body of work. At times singing their simplified philosophy on life ("We Should Be Dancing!") and at others cranking out a slow jam with careful attention to the proper portions of funk and groove, Variety Lab make tunes that always result in a desire to sing and dance along.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Interview w/ Portugal

This past Wednesday, I had a chance to sit down with the full outfit of Portugal. The Man before their sold out Southpaw show in Brooklyn, and talked about the new record, touring, costume wearing customs and a bit more. Portugal. The Man is on a high horse right now, having just finished a very successful set of days at Bonnaroo, playing for more people than they can count with their fingers and toes. Portugal have high expectations for The Satanic Satanist, considering this album is the best produced, and best rehearsed thus far in their career, and only see themselves going up.

You guys had friends produce your earlier records, but The Satanic Satanist was produced by big timers, Paul Kolderie, Anthony Safferie, and Adam Taylor.

John Gourley: They lucked out and became our good friends.

Zachary Scott Carothers: Now we're super close friends.

John: Yeah, They were pretty cool.

Zach: We were a little scared going in to the whole process but I think it was good for us to do demo's and actually write songs, which was something we'd never really done, so that was pretty awesome, and worked out pretty well.

I don't know if it's a secret, but I think you guys recorded two records, at once, or back to back?

Zach: Not really at once. There's some stuff that's laid down for a later one, but it's not quite done. John and Ryan went back in with Zoe over to Boston and worked a little more with those guys. The studio was really awesome. It was really cool.

What songs are you guys tired of playing if any?

Ryan Neighbors: All of them. (Laughs all around) No. Not true.

Zachary: Any time we get a little tired of song, we just switch up the playlist awhile, and the next time we're at practice we just revamp them add a different jam or a different feel.

How long did it take to actually make this special vinyl artwork?

Zach: They've actually been working on it awhile, and John's been talking about it forever, and we were all a little skeptical, because the way John explains things sounds a little bit impossible, and he kept talking about it, and he was drawing up diagrams and he was working with our buddy Austin Sellers. They totally came up with a way to make this whole thing doable.

Ryan: It's totally badass.

Zachary: We're really excited about it. It's pretty much the coolest packaging.

So do you have a different one for the CD and one for the Vinyl?

John: The main thing with vinyl was more the fact the last one we had done, on Censored Colors, it was too hard to mix the art and the affordability of it all anyway. It was just too expensive for people to buy, and that was something that Austin and I talked about a lot. And I guess he had just bought a record and it was 30 dollars and it was just fucked up you know?

You guys wanted to add more value to what you're doing?

John: Yeah, plus, CD's are kinda on the way out and it just made sense to do one last big thing.

Now, since you did this with The Satanic Satanist, the next project is gonna have to be a step above like Pandora's Box or something.

John: Yeah, I think that was the mistake in doing something like this. You kinda always have to step it up, and it would kinda be a mistake for us to not.

Zachary: Yeah nobody likes getting uh...

Ryan: UH... This sure is not as cool as the last one.

I was talking to Zach, about how you guys did Bonnaroo, and you played for more people, in a big place then you've ever played before. What do you guys kinda see happening in the future for your band?

Ryan: Hopefully that more often. (Laughs) Hopefully things keep improving.

John: Yeah, it was kinda proof this all wasn't an accident.

Ryan: We always want to climb up, not down.

Who choose “People Say” to be your single?

John: Um... I like that song. I talked to my dad, I talked to Heidi our publicist, and it just came down to it, it really came across for everyone. All of our parents really liked it.

Zach: Yeah we still listen to our parents.

I really like “Everyone is Golden”.

Zach: I really like that one too. I like that one a lot.

And “The Woods” is really cool too. When you write albums, it feels like everyone song could be a single. It wouldn't really matter which one you choose.

John: That's what I said. (Laughs) Just put all the money into everything.

I guess you'll have to see what happens with the iTunes charts. If they all sell out.

John : It's really funny to check that stuff out

Zach: We got some surprises.

John: With Churh Mouth, what do you think sold the most? I think it was “My Mind”.

Ryan: What sold the most from Censored Colors?

John: “Lay Me Back Down”. Yeah, if you have a music video that helps and brings in more plays.

Are there any music videos planned for this record?

John: Actually already done.

Zach: For “Do you”, our friend Ryan, is just a really awesome director, just does a bunch of really crazy graphic design stuff, and we've seen a bunch of his little videos.

John: I used to stay with Ryan all the time, and live with him and Austin. Austin does all of our art and graphic design stuff, so like five years ago pretty much came to Portland all the time, and just hung out with them, and it's kinda cool getting to work with them finally.

What's gonna be the theme of the video, because you guys kinda do weird things all the time?

Zachary: It's going to be a Sci-Fi Satanic Western.

John: He's just so fucking good. He comes up with the weirdest things.

Zachary: Lots of glowing neon, and acrylics, props in this video, are fucking crazy. One of our friends designed the costumes. Weirdo face paint.

Who are you going to tour with, in the next coming months?

Ryan: I don't know if we know for sure yet.

Zach: We're going to Europe and we're just by ourselves, playing some festivals, kinda doing our own thing. When we come back here, we're doing a headliner, but we're not totally sure who we're bringing out.

Are you guys still working with Equal Vision records?

Zach: This next record is going through them.


Originally Published @

Dirty Projectors have risen to a new level on their latest, which is full of free-spirited, genre-melding rebellion. The effort opens with reverb-drenched, distorted guitars that pulse along with the afrobeat-spiced rhythms. One of the album’s finest points, the single “Stillness Is The Move”, finds Amber Coffman cooing with the gusto of an R&B diva backed by slow-jam percussion. Sampled claps and smacks, oscillating synths and traditional strings join the guitar scuffing, palm muting and berserk blasts of fuzz that meander through unpredictable acappella sections to verses soaked in jazz-influenced bass lines and Mexican guitars. This combination of total shreddage and siren-like female vocals will captivate listeners from any horizon.

Tracklist For Bitte Orca:

01. Cannibal Resource
02. Temecula Sunrise
03. The Bride
04. Stillness Is The Move
05. Two Doves
06. Useful Chamber
07. No Intention
08. Remade Horizon
09. Fluorescent Half Dome

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pictureplane's 'Dark' Electro-Dance Debut

(Originally Published @

Pictureplane, the alias of Denver-based performance artist Travis Egedy, has readied his debut full-length, Dark Rift, which will be released via Lovepump United August 4. In the past, Pictureplane has remixed Crystal Castles, HEALTH and Thieves Like Us and collaborated with Beirut's Zach Condon. His own '90s-inspired house collection is a tsunami of synths, an expansive, psychotropic jamfest. See for yourself when Pictureplane packs dancefloors in your town this fall. Egedy will celebrate his forthcoming record by taking his mixture of aggressive noise and neon-lit house on the road along with HEALTH in September.

Tour Dates For Pictureplane:
09/09 - Los Angeles, CA - The Troubadour*
09/10 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill*
09/11 - Portland, OR - The Works (Time-Based Art Festival)*
09/12 - Seattle, WA - Vera Project*
09/17 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry*
09/18 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle*
09/19 - Toronto, ON - Wrong Bar*
09/20 - Montreal, QC - La Sala Rossa*
09/21 - Providence, RI - Club Hell*
09/22 - Allston, MA - Harper's Ferry*
09/24 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom*
09/25 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church*
09/26 - Baltimore, MD – Sonar*

* with HEALTH

These United States 'Touch Everything'

(Originally Published @

Grimey psych-folk crooners These United States will celebrate nearing their 500th live show with a spate of July dates and the announcement of a new album, Everything Touches Everything, which is scheduled for release September 1 on Colorado-based label United Interests.

Though the last 18 months have been quite a whirlwind for the DC-based band, who released two albums—A Picture Of The Three Of Us At The Gate To The Garden Of Eden and Crimes within mere months of each other last year, they have taken it all in stride. "[It's been] quite a ride, the best of times and the worst of times, and yet, [it's] all just chopping wood," frontman Jesse Elliott tells CMJ. "[It's] just the daily chores, nose to the grindstone. We've had the benefit of not too much attention or unwieldy kinds of love so far, so we've done it slowly but surely, for ourselves and those close to us. This summer should put all that to the test."

And that it will, because this summer TUS will be touring with established rock 'n' roll, folk-jam and indie colleagues Dr. Dog, Phosphorescent, Red Cortez, Deer Tick and Dusty Rhodes. And then they release their newest collection in the fall. Elliott feels the new record is "not so much a change as just part of the natural evolution... Bigger sound, a little bolder, unabashed, unashamed about our hearts this time around, feeling like the world's going down the shitter, and so what've we got to lose? And at the same time, [we] can't think of any other time in modern history we'd rather be alive... Everyone's playin' for keeps. That's our biggest influence: a world gone deliciously mad. We're right there in it."

Tour Dates For These United States:
06/19 - Chicago, IL - Taste of Randolph St. *
06/27 - Brooklyn, NY - Prospect Park ( Celebrate Brooklyn) **
07/01 - San Francisco, CA - Hemlock Tavern ***
07/02 - Berkeley, CA - The Starry Plough
07/03 - Big Sur, CA - Mother Hips' Family Hipnic
07/04 - Quincy, CA - High Sierra Festival
07/05 - Quincy, CA - High Sierra Festival
07/07 - Visalia, CA - Cellar Door ***
07/09 - Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex ****
07/11 - St. Louis, MO - The Luminary - Center For The Arts
07/12 - Louisville, KY - Forecastle Festival
07/23 - Bridgeport, CT - Gathering of the Vibes Festival
07/24 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom *****

* With Dr. Dog
** With Dr. Dog and Phosphorescent
*** With Red Cortez
**** With Dusty Rhodes
***** With Deer Tick

Tracklist For Everything Touches Everything:
01. I Want You To Keep Everything
02. Will It Ever
03. Everything Touches Everything
04. Night And The Revolution
05. The Secret Door
06. Conquest And Consequence
07. I'm Gonna Assemble a City
08. Good Bones
09. The Important Thing
10. End
11. Good Night Wish

Full Screen This Mother-($%#$%&)!!!