Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bad Bad Hats [Kerry Alexander]

image by John Schaidler

Singer-songwriter Kerry Alexander left Minneapolis at age five, but familial relationships kept the cord attached—eventually drawing her back. As a teen, she learned to play covers on guitar. Interest in lyrical poetry dovetailed with retrospective love songs she now records.

Love Songs

...I do love writing love songs because I love love. They always start out as just feelings and emotions. In retrospect, a lot of songs deal with thinking back on a moment and wishing you could change it by saying something else or not saying anything at all. I think this album is sort of focused on past relationships I've had and reminiscing about things that were...1

What sets a lyric apart from a narrative poem is the outflow of a poet's heart, as familiar thoughts and emotions are projected through soulish space, then resonate in the souls of listeners. Esoteric songs can stir hearts subconsciously—adding to music's mystery. Suggesting that familiar sonic vibrations play a role. Human bodies are composed of seven octillion atoms, with spaces between every single one of them. Entirely unique subatomic symphonies resonating with love's perfect pitch.

Missing One Chord

Alexander read somewhere how the pop song Teenage Dream by Katy Perry leaves out the one chord:

Let's start by talking about the ingenuity of the harmonic content. This song is all about suspension—not in the voice-leading 4–3 sense, but in the emotional sense, which listeners often associate with exhilaration, being on the road, being on a roller coaster, travel. This sense of suspension is created simply, by denying the listener any I chords. There is not a single I chord in the song. Laymen, the I chord (one chord) is the chord that the key is in. For example, a song is in G but there are no G-chords.2

Bad Bad Hats' title track Psychic Reader also follows a similar kind of formula, Alexander said.

BBH Triforce

Alexander is primary songwriter of Bad Bad Hats' triforce who typically comes up with the basic song, then brings it to Chris Hoge and Noah Boswell who flesh it out. The lead track, Midway, makes a good A-side, and seems to be the intentional pop song. While the following track, Shame is an indie rock jam. The title track, Psychic Reader has good verses, but an amazing chorus melody which really stands out. And outshines Midway's chorus.

  1. [quoting Kerry Alexander] Weatherby, Lea. Exclusive Album Stream: Psychic Reader, Bad Bad Hats. Interview Magazine. 9 July 2015. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. (
  2. Editors: Woodworth, Marc; Grossan, Ally-Jane. How to Write About Music: Excerpts from the 33 1/3 Series, Magazines, Books and Blogs with Advice from Industry-leading Writers. 2015. London, UK: Bloomsbury. Print. p.306

GRRRL PRTY [Lizzo, Sophia Eris, Manchita]

image from Facebook

Lizzo of the hip-hop all GRRRL PRTY is a hard act to keep track of—she's moving too fast. In the middle of her formative years, her family moved from Detroit to Houston. In 2011, she responded to a friend invite, and busted a move to the Minneapolis indie scene. Where she co-led the electro-funk group Lizzo & The Larva Ink and co-wrote the song The New World Order. She then moved on to collectively co-found GRRRL PRTY, The Chalice, The Clerb, and Absynthe.

Both Lizzo and Sophia Eris are members of GRRRL PRTY and The Chalice, with the addition of Manchita completing GP's feminine triple threat. Lizzo featured rapper Sophia Eris on Batches & Cookies. Lizzo and Manchita co-rap on TBLIF 4. All three grrrl up for Wegula (a nerdy pronunciation of regular). Their farcical hip-hop graffiti is splattered with satirical double entendres. TBLIF 4 ends with apocalyptic industrial jibe:

It was interesting to hear Manchita's rap gain momentum in TBLIF 4. As the DJ's track looped, she got a feel for the sonic foundation her story would be framed on. Then rapped a few words, which seemed to represent the topic, and register with Lizzo. Then the duo exchanged a few words—it's official. Manchita started to impart inertia. Suddenly, it was as if a record needle fell into a groove. She broke into a steady rap, at times shifting into a fast-paced staccato. That's the cool part. Where ears need to listen or they're missin' the story.

The video for alt-hip-hop Batches & Cookies features a butter-coated male love interest. Lizzo collaborated with Lazerbeak from local Doomtree indie hip hop collective and Ryan Olson of Marijuana Deathsquads. The video goes with her début LIZZOBANGERS LP on the Totally Gross National Product label.

GRRRL PRTY's info page reads:

GRRRL PRTY is a celebration of femininity and unsheathed swagger featuring three of the most innovative voices in hip-hop this decade. The spitfire poetess Sophia Eris, percussive hellion Manchita, and southern rapstress Lizzo defy ideals and create an undeniable gritty, unapologetic sound. GRRRL PRTY delivers a sizzling live show. GRRRL PRTY is infectious and leaves listeners feverish for more. You're invited to GRRRL PRTY. Get it.1
  1. Eris, Sophia; Manchita; Lizzo. "Info." GRRRL PRTY. Sophia Eris; Manchita; Lizzo, 22 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Biting Elbows [Great Guns]

Great Guns is an international film production company working closely with ad agencies across the globe. With its HQ in London, along with offices in W. Hollywood, China, Hamburg, Tokyo, Mumbai, Singapore, etc.

After viewing several GG productions, the purpose of their work becomes apparent. For example, a Russian music video features spectacular 007 point of view shots. As entertainment is used to stimulate and inspire the Communist masses. To condition mindsets as a form of propaganda, as one black-suited intelligence agent chases another across the wings of decommissioned MiG fighters. After the escaping enemy agent stole an exotic weapon used for instant teleportation. Black op intrigue at its best.

(...Einstein wrote, the more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks.)

If two electrons are initially vibrating in unison (quantum coherence) they can remain in wavelike synchronization even if they are separated by a large distance. Although the two electrons may be separated by light-years, there is still an invisible Schrödinger wave connecting both of them, like an umbilical cord. If something happens to one electron, then some of that information is immediately transmitted to the other. This is called quantum entanglement, the concept that particles vibrating in coherence have some kind of deep connection linking them together.1

Biting Elbows doesn't mind being upstaged by dramatic action sequences. If you're into the featured video, you'll probably like the ones linked below, including two other episodes of Insane Office Escape—fore and aft. Insane Office Escape 3 features masked superheroes blasting their way through business cubicles. In Dope Fiend Massacre, the lead vocal's arms are on fire.


  1. Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel. . New York, NY: Knopf Doubleday. Print. pp.60,61

Monday, September 21, 2015

Porter Robinson: Divinity [feat. Amy Millan] [ODESZA Remix]

NME: Interview: Porter Robinson

Gemcutters have many ways to cut, shape and polish gemstones. For example, leaving the face-up size unchanged while adding pavilion facets—reducing a stone's weight by 10%. The original gem remains, but now additional facets dazzle; sparkling with new beauty for beholders. Weight ≠ Sparkle. Digital remixes are like that.

Porter Robinson, Amy Millan and ODESZA all played key roles in embedding the new gemstone recut of Divinity into the music industry mountain—a classic alt-EDM combo.


Porter Robinson

Robinson realized the confinement of EDM as a portal of artistic expression, limited to generic elements. Ideal for the synchronization of bodily movement on the dance floor, but lacking sophistication for lyrics to resonate deeply in the hearts of listeners. EDM ≠ Art. Once he began to squelch conventional dance elements, the sonic transition developed naturally. A bird escaped its cage.

Robinson doubted that many DJs would listen. He decided to live adventurously on an island without EDM. A castaway entering the studio with a pioneering spirit to record the Worlds (2014) album. He told NME:

...the first priority I had was that I wanted it to be beautiful and emotional. That was my first goal. And I guess kinda in terms of throwing off some of the EDM stuff; it just came about naturally. Because I found that it was; they're trying to shoehorn it into a danceable format. Trying to shoehorn every song into dance was really just limiting in terms of expression. I was finding that I could tell the story a little better if I didn't make it have a [boom boom boom EDM intro] like a, you know, a dumb buildup...1

Amy Millan

Amy Millan likes to infuse country with rock, Wayward and Parliament (2006) revealed experimentation. In 2014, the sonic moves of digital grooves drew her into vocal collaboration on Porter Robinson's foundational mix of Divinity.


Sound engineering can make or break a song, which ODESZA proved by making Divinity sound awesome with a remix. Effectively highlighting Millan's honeyed vocals. The beauty and emotion that Porter Robinson set out to accomplish has been recut into a new sparkly gemstone.

  1. NME. Porter Robinson Interview: 'EDM is entertainment, it's not art'. YouTube. YouTube, 5 June 2015. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Image: Marine Bass/CERN

This San Francisco-based band is outer the ordinary as in space. The upper cymbal of the outspoken drummer's high-hat is riddled with 2 inch holes. Pan to the pink rhythm guitar that no one would rip off, then Ed will outplay most guitarists with it. Now pan to the short female Japanese bass player singing falsetto. Add a Star Wars-compatible lead guitarist, and you have Deerhoof.

Large Hadron Collider

Very few indie bands—if any other on Earth—could say they actually conducted sonic experimentation at the Hadron Collider. An introduction by physicist James Beacham preceded the experiment:

Thirteen trillion electron volts. That's the energy which the Large Hadron Collider smashes together protons—new, this year, 2015. Right now, a hundred meters below us, superconducting magnets just like these are doing the heavy lifting required to get these proton beams to bend around the twenty-seven kilometer tunnel and allow them to get us to almost the speed of light. And to thirteen TeV [teraelectronvolts], which is the highest energy that humans have ever used in a collider experiment. So what are we looking for? Things like dark matter, dark energy, super symmetry, quantum black holes, large extra dimensions... But really, we're just pushing the boundaries of human knowledge. We don't know what we're going to find at thirteen TeV at the LAC.

This is Satomi of Deerhoof, and I don't know what she's going to do...1

Each band member used their musical instruments—with GoPro's® attached—to sonically simulate the unpredictable chaos of quantum particle collisions at 13 TeV. Bending sound waves above CERN's 27km long proton beam bender.

The first stop of their La Isla Bonita Tour was recorded at the Baby's All Right music venue in Brooklyn, NY:

  1. Beacham, James; François Briard. Ex/Noise/CERN: Deerhoof vs. the Large Hadron Collider. YouTube, 18 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bully: Trying [Alicia Bognanno]

In Nashville-based Bully's A-side Trying, frontwoman Alicia Bognanno grinds her vocal folds to characterize a grunge/punk-inspired manifestation of raw youth angst. Gwen Stefani attitude is discernible. Tension, frustration and grinding characterize late teens in their struggle to overcome one identity crisis after another—most of us lived through it.

Bognanno dealt with the female side of the issue. Girls flipping through fashion magazines. Searching for the meaning of elusive beauty, which has been waiting patiently inside all along—to unfold before the world like a rose. Then a infamous feminine delay triggered self-analysis:

I question everything
My focus, my figure, my sexuality
And how much it matters or why it would mean anything1

During adolescence, if not before, kids, especially girls, will develop the classic imaginary audience. Believing she is constantly onstage, she becomes self-conscious, thinking everyone is watching her, that everyone believes she is obese or sees the pimple that she discovered with horror this morning. Walking down the corridors of the mall, she cannot avoid the floor-to-ceiling images of slender Gap models or Britney Spears—like mannequins displaying well-toned abs. It may be impossible for her to pass by a mirror or a shiny show window without stealing a glance.2

Said the Gramophone Pop Bully - Trying (MP3)

Bognanno's image is grungy and cosmetically conservative. Her conversational tone, approachable. New listeners discover a realist. In the studio, the band is no different. Their sonic approach is very analog; every track is recorded directly to tape, advocating uncompressed audio. Reel-to-reel dating back to the 1930s continues to be real to this day. Bognanno explained to The Seventh Hex how she prefers recordings that sound like live performances—indulging realistic fans. She personally engineered Bully's first vinyl LP, Feels Like. Capturing the edgy angst of teen spirit.

  1. Trying. Bully. Startime International/Columbia, 2015. CD.
  2. Girls Rock!: Fifty Years of Women Making Music. . Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. Print. p.122

Bully Tour Dates

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Low: No Comprende

Seattle-based Low has diminished the breakneck pace of the rock'n'roll dream. Even while their music is sped up to twice the tempo, vocals fail to ring like cheery chipmunks (one way to test for slowcore). Two full albums at double-speed could fit on the same vinyl LP without forcing analogue sound or stressing plastic microgrooves. Their latest A-side, No Comprende, is like that.

Bands flare up like flash fires to drift into obscurity like ashes, but Low has maintained a consistent moderate pace for two decades. So pushing harder and faster might throw off the chemical balance, or shift creativity out of place, adversely affecting the band's indie rock longevity. In other words, faster ≠ better.

Other titles through Sub Pop are The Invisible Way, Drums and Guns, and C’mon. Their latest single No Comprende is a perfect example of how a well-crafted slowcore single should sound. Notice how the matchstick refuses to quit.

Oh So Slowcore

In 1998, bandleader Alan Sparhawk told QRD Magazine the chintziest label given to Low was slowcore:
I hate that word. The most appropriate is anything that uses the word minimal in it, but I don't think anybody's made one up for that.1
Minimal indie rock fits, but so does the indie rock subgenre slowcore as a type of anti-hardcore (or anti-genre). While minimal music actually relates general aesthetics, styles and techniques which frame the subgenre. Classification then details the movement as a particular subdivision of indie rock. Listeners use genres to find music—like a card catalog. Sparhawk may scorn the label, but his original intention was slow, sonically stripped indie music:

Of the bands grouped into sadcore and slowcore classifications by critics in the early '90s, none were slower—or perhaps sadder (though Red House Painters might win that contest)—than Low. The band's roots lay in a live prank pulled off by guitarist/founder/singer Alan Sparhawk's pre-Low band Zen Identity, in which the band performed a set of excruciatingly slow, sonically stripped, low-volume songs to a grunge/alt-rock-hungry audience. Reaction notwithstanding, Sparhawk liked the musical result and formed Low to carry out this vision. His wife, Mimi Parker, took a brush-and-stick approach to a drum kit consisting of a floor tom and a single cymbal. Bassist John Nichols rounded out the lineup...2

Slow tempo inspired his vision, and with that characteristic slowness came the music press's appropriated subgenre label—searing like a branding iron. Low shoots slow-mo spitballs in the same classroom with Galaxie 500, Codeine, American Music Club, Red House Painters, Seam, Idaho, Karate and Nina Nastasia. For example—thanks to the subsonic association—Codeine fans are made aware of other protracted bands, including Low. So the inherently ambiguous genre label is two-edged. Helping potential fan$ taste test sonic categories first at YouTube, MySpace and SoundCloud. While the same label might also stereotype a band, failing to accurately represent the particulars of their sound. Right about when that shifty little slowcore label receives contempt from both artist and fan.

  1. Low interview from QRD #14. QRD Magazine. October 1998. Web. Accessed: Sept. 16, 2015.
  2. Gimme Indie Rock. . Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur. Print. pp.177,178

Low's Tour Dates

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Interview: Stella Goshtein

orig. image by Yonatan Birenbaum, assisted by Adam Cohn

Radio EPGB (a venue which hosts local musicians) plays a role in establishing indie music in the coastal city of Tel-Aviv. Becoming a local hub for non-commercialized alternative sounds. One common bond the city's diverse gathering of genres seems to share are electronic musical elements. But Bill and Murray quickly grew out of the local scene to tour other countries, and opened for artists like Gary Numan, according to Indie Rock Cafe.

Could you share some details about how the band evolved? Which might include influences of the Tel-Aviv indie music scene, as well as changes that marked the bands evolution. How does the bands current style reflect local musical influences?

I first met David when he was playing with his band LeChuck. After some digging i found out that he has a long past of forming in different bands and solo projects and that he is actually a well known figure in the Tel-Aviv underground music scene (ED, the Good band and more..).

I felt like there's a good chance for an interesting musical collaboration and contacted him. We started bringing songs for home rehearsals and very fast started playing small shows and recording our stuff. We decided we want to approach our music in a different way then we used to and brought a drum machine and a keyboard. We both come from Rock music and Rock bands so it was very refreshing to work with very specific sounding machines. After a year or so we decided to add a drummer to the band, to give our shows some power and enrich our sound. Ran Jacobovitz was the perfect match. He is a big 80's fan, big snares and shiny hooks. Living and performing in Tel Aviv, we did not yet come across a band that plays the kind of music we play but there are many good band that might have inspired us in subtle ways.

Indie Rock Cafe Best New DIY Music of 2015 Vol VII Rabbit Hole (MP3)
Indie Rock Cafe Best New DIY Music of 2015 Vol VII The Silence Grows (MP3)

Rabbit Hole, the title of your latest EP, is an excellent indie track which I found featured at Indie Rock Cafe. Another is The Silence Grows, which also resonates. What is the meaning behind each of these two songs? For example, are there any particular ideas or events which inspired them? How have underground music fans responded to your new songs during live performances?

Thanks, Rabbit Hole's lyrics are about a feeling of extreme confusion as a result of trying to make sense of things and eventually realizing that the only way to stay sane and functional is accepting the paradox that reality is surreal and you might as well just step in to the rabbit hole and see what happens.

The Silence Grows tells the story of an irresistible force between two elements, a force that is indifferent to pain, anger and heartbreak, the kind that, over time, mutes everything and leaves nothing but a deafening silence.

Since we perform quite a lot in Tel Aviv we think our audience is probably happy to hear some new songs evey once in a while.

Bill and Murray: Rabbit Hole

Stella Goshtein's whispery vocal on Bill and Murray's latest expresses a woman testing her footing in a tunnel to the unknown; cavernous reverb captures the metaphor. Life reaches valleys of decision; surreal at times, as hearts and minds adjust to new challenges—even trials. The album cover seems to trace a circling path superimposed over a grainy Middle-Eastern sky.

Stepped into the rabbit hole
Just to see where the tunnel goes

The Radio EPGB located in Tel Aviv started as a hidden place with very limited PR. The idea was to create the perfect venue that would become a hub for underground and indie electronic music and a place for an eclectic mix of listeners in search of great sounds.—Ariel Klachkin (co-owns Radio EPGB)

Indie synth music is well-represented by Bill and Murray's previous track, Something to Fear. The band emerged out of Tel-Aviv's indie rock underground, at venues like —literally situated underground and nestled with an old synagogue. Facilitating Independent Music's disownment of formulaic generic commercial pop to remain a leading venue for the local indie scene. And like CBGB, EPGB features many up and coming local bands—who share the basement stage with popular local DJs. Frequently indulged by a modern manifestation of beatniks who don't wear French berets, but continue to defy convention like their bongo beating brothers of the early 60s.

For young people, American popular culture offered a medium through which to distance themselves from the parent generation and the norms of the establishment. One can speak of rebellion in a series of phases: the rock'n'roll rebellion of the 1950s, followed by the beatnik rebellion of the 1960s, culminating in the flower power revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Likewise, the interest that dates from the 1980s in urban underground cultural media such as rap, hip-hop, and graffiti can also be seen as an example of youth rebellion.1

  1. The Americanization of Europe: Culture, Diplomacy, and Anti-Americanism After 1945. . New York, NY: Berghahn. Print. p.132

Bill and Murray Tour Dates

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Oh Wonder: Heart Hope

orig. image by Mike Lee Thomas
Josephine, co-writer for London-based songwriting couplet Oh Wonder, layers the honey sweetness. While Anthony lays down the rich texture for their alt-pop hit, Heart Hope, which helped them become an in-demand band, loved for their monthly tracks. Using SoundCloud for song send-offs, the two exploited the subscriber mindset of social media. Fans depending on digital events to break the monotony of life; the weekly television series, now, the scheduled music release. Since technology allows musicians to write/record/release all in a day, it is only a matter of time before more good songwriters schedule just-recorded releases of full singles straight out of their home studios. This suddenly famous DIY-duo has proven the inevitable. New listeners become intimate with tracks incrementally, while the immediacy of fresh releases quickly builds interest for tours—attracting spontaneous fans to venues. Embedded audio players become digital middlemen.

Placed above a piano is a handwritten bucket list, of sorts. A little list of goals, it contains a series of aims that Gucht and West set out to achieve as a career. One aims to be in-demand songwriters, respected for our art. And that's how Oh Wonder started - as an exercise in songwriting.1

Realizing the quality of their music, Oh Wonder, should no longer wonder why they are suddenly in-demand; after being written, that phrase became a decree. If a song resonates hope deep within the heart of its listener, a deposit is left. We need a britpop message of hope deposited there. Beautiful songs resonate in the spirit even more than in DNA. Which may help explain why a growing fan base is all ears for songs which lead to record deals and world tours. Contributing to the surreal enchantment of sudden fame which now occupies the imaginations of the twosome. By virtue of instinct and intuition, they defied cerebral music; bypassing minds to target hearts where hope resides.

  1. Milton, Jamie. Interview: Pinch, punch, first of the month: Oh Wonder. DIY Magazine. Sept. 1, 2015. Web. Accessed: Sept. 3, 2015.

Oh Wonder Tour Dates

Oh Wonder

1. Livewire (03:23)
2. Body Gold (03:04)
3. Technicolour Beat (03:00)
4. Drive (03:16)
5. Lose It (03:49)
6. Landslide (03:28)
7. White Blood (04:17)
8. Without You (03:44)
9. The Rain (02:54)
10. Dazzle (03:07)
11. All We Do (03:34)
12. Midnight Moon (03:30)
13. Shark (03:07)
14. Heart Hope (04:09)
15. Plans (03:55)
Copyright © 2016 Indiessance