Mastodon's Brann Dailor Remembers His New York City Youth

Categories: Interviews, Metal

Photo by Travis Shinn, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
Progressive metal band Mastodon call Atlanta home, but drummer Brann Dailor is originally from New York. Born in Rochester, Brann grew up with parents he calls "hippies," who gave him a Celtic name (pronounced "Bron"), derived from a mythical king, Bran the Blessed. The king's story involves a magic cauldron, a talking severed head, and a troubled sister. It's the sort of stuff you might find in Mastodon's lyrics, or on their concept albums dealing with themes of death or grand quests.

These days, everything about the band — the scale of their music and their success — seems to be ever-increasingly colossal, as will be the size of the crowd likely to turn up for their SummerStage performance in Central Park on May 19.

More »

Remy Banks on Mixtape higher. and World's Fair: 'These Are Your New Jay Zs and Nases'

Photo by Zach Wolfe
Remy Banks
Brooklyn has the hip-hop classicism of Pro Era. Harlem gets the A$AP Mob's region-hopping. Queens' World's Fair can be seen as a compromise between new-school leanings and the pride that comes with New York City's heritage. That's not to say the six-member collective is some sort of unoriginal mishmash. World's Fair's lone album featuring all six members, 2012's Bastards of the Party (no relation to the 2005 gang documentary), features a sense of self-assuredness and general feel of fun. World's Fair may not have blown up to "Goldie" levels or assured everyone they're what New York's been missing — whatever the hell that means nowadays — but they're one of the city's more exciting acts, and definitely one of the most promising.

All hip-hop acts, especially those hailing from New York, have their knocks against them. World's Fair aren't an exception. Their particular hurdle is that they're not like the other collectives. There's no capo, no A$AP Rocky or Joey Bada$$ to easily identify as the face and ambassador of the group. It's a notable element that's missing, but not necessarily a fatal one.

But on May 11, Remy Banks is the star. He's hosting a listening party in the Lower East Side's Elvis Guesthouse for his mixtape higher., due out May 18. Banks, named after his father's favorite drink, Rémy Martin (although he admits he's more of a Hennessy guy), isn't completely in star mode, even though the basement room's green-and-blue spotlight is clearly on him. Recognizable by his wiry frame and the tufts of hair poking out of his Yankees cap, he swings around from the back of the venue to the entrance, passing out daps without prejudice, impishly shooting the shit with some friends and making full use of the bar.

More »

Beijing's Chui Wan Find Global Voice With New Self-Titled Album

via Facebook
Chui Wan
Some words defy easy translation. Take experimental psych band Chui Wan's name, which is inspired by ancient Daoist existential philosophy.

"It means different things give different sounds, and there's lots of sounds, and there's sound in everything," explains Nevin Domer, who is originally from Baltimore, and who is the COO of Chui Wan's label, Maybe Mars Records.

Today, Domer is our translator, and he's joined the band after they decamped to an Italian restaurant in Beijing next door to Maybe Mars HQ, which in turn sits above a music venue and was deemed too noisy for the interview. Some words — though few in this conversation — need no explanation: "Exploration!" yells bassist and singer Wu Qiong, answering a question regarding inspiration for the new album.

More »

Long After 'The Adventures of Pete & Pete,' Polaris Start a New Journey

Photo by Henning Ohlenbusch
Nineties Nickelodeon cult favorite The Adventures of Pete & Pete wasn't your average kids' show. From 1993 to 1996, Pete & Pete dazzled young'uns and grown-ups alike with a unique wittiness, maturity, and friendly surrealism in Wellsville's fictional suburbia. Whether it was a cardigan-wearing Iggy Pop expressing his distaste for canoes, or an inanimate, demonic bowling ball fighting for the siblings' affection, Pete & Pete remains an original not only in children's television, but for the medium as a whole.

To score such a unique world, show creator Will McRobb enlisted Mark Mulcahy, then frontman of the Connecticut college-rock band Miracle Legion, to write the show's jangle-pop theme, "Hey Sandy." More work followed, and Polaris, as Mulcahy's in-house, Miracle Legion–hybrid band came to be known, eventually penned twelve songs over the show's run, matching Pete & Pete's timelessness with its soundtrack. After the show's cancellation, Music From the Adventures of Pete & Pete saw a proper album release in 1999, becoming a treasured gem for the show's fans as Mulcahy continued on as a solo act.

More »

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds Spread Their Wings on 'The Weather Below'

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Aviva Klein
Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds
Sister Sparrow — the nom du stage of Arleigh Kincheloe — wears the pants in the band. Literally. It wasn't until the singer donned a pair of jeans that she came into full possession of the powers that now fuel her both onstage and in the studio with the six members of the Dirty Birds.

Calling on a gig day in Syracuse, New York, Kincheloe speaks frankly about her musical and personal evolution. She and harmonica-playing brother Jackson were raised in the Catskills, and though she was was singing onstage with their musician parents by the age of eight, confidently fronting her own six-piece funky soul band was a different story for Arleigh.

More »

Tanlines Leave Bedroom Pop Behind in Favor of a New Sound on Highlights

Photo by Columbine Goldsmith
In the opening lines of "Slipping Away," the first single from Tanlines' forthcoming sophomore record, Highlights, Eric Emm's plaintive vocal rings out over an exuberant bassline akin to the Cure's "Close to Me": "Was I running backwards? Was it all just a dream?"

Emm's lyrics could easily be a reference to the whirlwind in which he, along with bandmate Jesse Cohen, began their career as Tanlines. Situated in an already buzzy scene full of Brooklyn bands with an electronic bent and a slightly nostalgic take on indie pop, their breakout EP, Settings, was a succinct, six-song statement in a sea of idiosyncratic remixes for like-minded bands such as Glasser, Au Revoir Simone, El Guincho, Memory Tapes, and Telepathe. There was even a split single with Salem. Circa 2010, Tanlines and their contemporaries were a who's-who of newly minted bedroom composers, and yet as these acts began to release full-lengths and fads in genre changed, many of them were relegated to Where Are They Now? status.

Tanlines, it seems, are not content to fade away.

More »

Hot Chip Find Inspiration in 'Orchestra of Synthesizers' and D'Angelo-esque Grooves

Photo by Steve Gullick
Hot Chip
"I'm only really at the beginning of talking about this record," says Hot Chip's lead singer, Alexis Taylor, of Why Make Sense? (due out May 18). "I don't really feel like I know what's going on in terms of New York — or this album."

Taylor has frequented New York for years as the frontman of the electronic five-piece, alongside members Joe Goddard, Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, and Felix Martin. Earlier this spring, Taylor was in town DJ'ing at the MoMA, but was even more thrilled to be catching Björk's MoMA exhibit and Carnegie Hall performance the following day while he was in town.
"I'm interested to hear her in concert playing [Vulnicura] — I haven't actually listened to the album yet," said Taylor, visibly excited about the Icelandic singer's recent output. "For the exhibition, I'm really interested in her costumes. I know she worked with Bernhard Willhelm, who I really like. I don't really know what it's going to consist of."

More »

Your 33 Black Angels on Glamour: 'The Better You Know Us, the Worse You'll Think of Us'

Categories: Interviews

Photo by Winnie Cheung
Your 33 Black Angels
The first rule of Your 33 Black Angels: Don't reveal any personal details. The second rule: There are no rules. Or is that the first rule? Either way, though neither is an actual rule, the psych-pop outfit takes the people out of the equation to concentrate on what is created, and does it in a non-hierarchical, all-ideas-are-welcome fashion, like some hippie, Borg-style collective. In a world of celebrity, where people are lauded and made wealthy and powerful for creating nothing, eliminating the person, the personal, and, most of all, the persona as best you can is a refreshing ideal. In the end, what's created is the only thing that basks in the glow of the spotlight.

"We're a little difficult in that we try not to reveal too much personal information," admits guitarist and singer Dan Rosato, almost apologetically. "The subject of the band and the music and the record is more important than any of our personal information."

More »

Full-Moon Fever Fuels Esperanza Spalding's 'Emily's D+Evolution'

Photo by Holly Andres
Esperanza Spalding
The full moon approaches, and change is nigh for Esperanza Spalding.

"I may be a lunatic," she says, "because I definitely notice the difference before a full moon. I can't sleep and I get all jittery. I get all wargh-arghhhhhh!" This comes out as a big, long scream, more soulful than scary. (It's still a little scary.)

So it's no wonder that her newest project, "Emily's D+Evolution," was an inspiration of a nocturnal shade. "This idea of Emily came to me in the middle of the night," she continues, "right before my birthday, when there was a full moon. I saw these little vignettes playing out in my mind. The music sound[ed] nothing like what it does now, but I got about ten song ideas, right there and then."

More »

Jessica Hopper Compiles Greatest Hits for Her First Collection of Rock Criticism

Photo by David Sampson
Jessica Hopper
In the opening pages of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, out May 12, the prolific music journalist and editor (and former Village Voice advice columnist) Jessica Hopper dedicates her book to "those that came before," "those that should have been first, and all the ones that will come after." Already in its third printing, Hopper's debut collection is a well-curated compilation of essays spanning the chronology of her career.

Memorable moments include Hopper's critique of the "myopic songs that don't consider the world beyond boy bodies, their broken hearts, or vans," in "Emo: Where the Girls Aren't." "Us girls deserve more than one song," she writes. "We deserve better songs than any boy will ever write about us." Readers will also find an oral history of Hole's seminal album Live Through This, an in-depth deconstruction of Lana Del Rey, and a confession of adolescent poserdom, in addition to an array of reviews, profiles, and critiques that will make you reconsider the way you listen to, think, and talk about music.

More »