Bjork

Post Election Playlist
November 16, 2016 1:43 pm

 

It’s been exactly one week since the outcome of one of the craziest elections America has ever witnessed.

The beasts have lovingly curated this playlist to help get us through all of the intense emotions – from shock and disbelief to sadness and anger – we’re going through.

Though we live in troubled times, we are all in this together. Let this playlist help us to remember not only that, but that we should never stop fighting hate with love.

P.S. Trump. Look behind you. We’re not going anywhere.

donald trump bernie sanders

BRAIDS – A Return To Form?
August 14, 2015 2:21 pm

To this day, BRAIDS‘ 2011 debut “Native Speaker” remains nothing short of extraordinary. The album ranges from tender and minimal to loud and crass, sometimes within a single song. The tracks are layered with complex drumming patterns and guitar riffs that melt together with electronics to create a uniquely hazy and ambient soundscape. At the forefront is Raphaelle Standell-Preston, whose vocal gymnastics have justly been compared to those of Icelandic pop legend Björk. Now, four years later, how are they holding up?

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In the spring of this year, we saw the release of their third album Deep In The Iris. It has received praise for being a slight return to form, after their more electronic and minimal second full length release Flourish // Perish. It’s BRAIDS’ first album to be recorded outside of Canada, seeing as the band felt that they needed to clear their heads after months of recording Flourish // Perish in a windowless garage in Montreal. The album was recorded in various remote spots across the US, including a cabin in the desert of Arizona.

This new adventurous approach to the writing and recording process has clearly had an influence on the band’s overall sound, though not as much as you might think. It is indeed refreshing to hear them using more live instruments again in songs such as “Taste” or “Warm Like Summer,” but the magic of their first release hasn’t entirely been recaptured for me. Many of the songs on Deep in the Iris were written around the same time as those on Flourish // Perish, and this still shows clear as the band still relies more on electronics than I would like. Nevertheless, I do agree with the band’s own statement in an interview with HungerTV that this album is more “uplifting, cathartic, and aggressive” than the previous one. If I had to choose three words to describe what I liked about BRAIDS, it would probably be those!

A key element that has always remained consistent in all of BRAIDS’ music are Raphaelle’s vocals. She continues to use her voice in unexpected ways, and the crass honesty of her lyrics is always refreshing. Deep in the Iris has been greatly sold on the fact that it is their most lyrically explicit release to date. Its subject matters are darker and more topical than the band’s previous releases. This is most noticeable in their single “Miniskirt,” which is perhaps also the most aggressive and cathartic track on the album. (“I’m not a man hater / I enjoy them like cake / But in my position I’m the slut / I’m the bitch / I’m the whore / The one you hate”) As always, Raphaelle is not afraid to swear or be sexually explicit, so it’s great to hear her take the issue of rape culture and slut shaming head on.

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For me, BRAIDS’s latest two releases haven’t been as gripping as Native Speaker (the ultimate highpoint being the song “Glass Deers”). Songs like Miniskirt are still a clear indicator that they are capable of great things, and I hope they’ll continue to build on this in their next release.

Governors Ball 2015 Rocked NYC
June 17, 2015 7:43 pm

Governors Ball kicked off on Randall’s Island last weekend, bringing back the best outdoor music festival in New York, and my personal favorite time of year. Although the sky was filled with clouds letting down a light drizzle, droves of music fans continued on their quest across the RFK Triborough bridge in search of the booming music that could be heard all the way in Harlem. The bridge offered a sneaking glimpse of the Main Stage while walking towards the festival grounds, empty beer cans and bottles littered about on the way, the first sign of the free wielding party atmosphere that Governors Ball always delivers on.

The first act I encountered was GorgonCity, who brought an intense energy to the Gotham tent. The crowd bounced up and down with their hands in the air as they played their biggest single to date (and a new personal favorite) “Ready for Your Love.”

Charlie XCX delivered a powerful performance on the Honda stage, proving herself as one of the most intriguing pop artists today. While most artists would be happy to let their background dancers carry the show, Charlie matched her vocal prowess with some amazing dances moves, even rapping Iggy Azalea’s verse in “Fancy.” Charlie closed the set out with an excellent version of “Boom Clap” which had the crowd singing along to every word, but ended on an even more powerful moment, asking the crowd to join her in a feminist call for recognition of “pussy power.”

Chromeo came back to GovBall for a second time, this time blasting songs out from the main stage. They played their newest songs before breaking into a Vampire Weekend cover, teasing the crowd before delivering the full thing. They then broke into “Bonafied Lovin”, moving the crowd with their sweet beats under the hot summer sun. The undeniable party anthem “2 Step” followed, leading the crowd to a 2 step dance party at the end of their set.

The crowd for Odesza swarmed out of the Gotham tent late in the afternoon, spilling into the field behind it as their booming beats flowed out. A cloud of smoky haze arose as the set continued and they played their hits “Say My Name” and “All We Need.”

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The nostalgia crowd for Death from above 1979 was thin at this years Governors Ball, not matching last years turn out for The Strokes.  But despite this, Sebastian Grainger and Jesse Keeler continued to pummel their instruments, unleashing a sonic barrage across the crowd.

The backdrop of the stage shimmered in the wind as Florence + the Machine took the stage, the sun setting to the right of the stage, making for a perfect setting for an epic festival set. The band started the set with “What the Water Gave Me,” an apt choice as the Hudson River quietly flowed to the right of the main stage. Florence took time between each song to tell the crowd how excited she was to be there, mentioning how she was actually performing with a broken foot, but you could never tell the way she ran and danced around the stage. A Buzz Lightyear ballon took off over the crowd as they broke into their third song “Shake It Out,” the stage lights holding the audience captive in a way they haven’t all day. By the fifth song, every chorus was an endless call and response from the crowd, like hits “Sweet Nothing” and “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.” Florence stopped for a moment when she saw an audience member holding up a handmade sign asking for a “hug?,”  quickly replying “crowd surf up here and you can get your hug!” A girl in a purple dress instantly floated over the crowd, taking the stage to collect her hug from each member of the band, awestruck as she did it. It was this happy atmosphere that the band held through the entire set that made this one of the best shows of the evening, when they ended their set with a rousing version of “The Dog Days Are Over.”

St. Vincent drowned the crowd in the thick reverb of her guitar at the Big Apple, showcasing her skill as one of the heaviest players in rock music currently. Synchronized dancers blast off 80’s inspired dance moves behind her, adding to her rock aesthetic. Throwing her guitar into the crowd on the last song, the excellent “Krokodil,” St. Vincent showed off her punk rock side.

My morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket
played to an ecstatic crowd, delivering their pure guitar driven rock against the dark night sky. Looking like a cross between Allan Ward and Jimi Hendrix, lead singer Jim James picked away at his guitar precisely, performing a medley of the bands greatest hits including “Big Decisions,” “Compound Fracture,” and ending the set with a excellent version of “One Big Holiday.


Drake
hit the stage to the opening beats of “Legend” off of his new album, working from the moment of his headlining set to cement his legacy at Governors Ball. The stage was decorated in a jungle theme, pulled directly from his recent tour with Future, who had performed earlier in the day. With an unbound confidence, Drizzy ran through a setlist of his greatest hits, including “Crew Love,” “The Motto,” and “HYFR.” He even took time to turn the lyrics of his songs to reflect New York City, calling out “all those Brooklyn girls who like to take it slow.” Hopefully he makes good on his teaser of an OVO Festival in New York City sometime soon.

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Overall the festival was more crowded and fast paced than last year, barely giving the audience a second to catch their breath before the cant-miss performances from some of the biggest names in music. with additional art installations and plenty of spaces to find a wide array of food and an easy place to use the bathroom, GovBall continues to prove itself as one of the best festivals in the country, providing a comprehensive festival experience while just across the river from the nonstop grind of Manhattan.

Governor’s Ball Is Whatever You Want It To Be
June 15, 2015 2:20 pm

Last weekend’s Governor’s Ball music festival was fantastic. Everyone expects amazing music and exotic, quirky foods, but something very unique to this event is the attitude and the ambiance that can only be found on Randall’s Island. Governor’s Ball is admittedly not Coachella, the fashion week of music festivals, or EZOO the strange, beaded, bedazzled, acid trip of music festivals,  but it does have a distinct look of its very own, and that look is- whatever the hell you want it to be.

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While there was undeniably an abundance of flower crowns (myself included), FLASH tattoos and glittery accessories, we also saw sturdy workman boots, beautiful summery gauze dresses and every different look imaginable from the street savvy festival goers, to the artists themselves. You do not have to be a California hippie waif or a zonked out, neon pink, molly-popping tween. You can be either, or both, or anything in between.

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Florence Welch looked like a 70s flower child while Liz Nistico from HOLYCHILD was wearing an all white ensemble with bright and electric Sephora-esque eyeshadow and lipstick. The ladies of Clean Bandit wore black and white leotards with beautiful cascading skirts, Charli XCX channeled her inner animal (100% zebra print), Marina Diamandis wore a bright purple latex body suit, and Bjork was dressed like a butterfly. No one cared that there was a guy walking around all day with a 50ft flag that said “MORE BASS”, drunkenly waiting for DEAMAU5, the exact same way nobody cared that every sad girl in the tri-state area put on their best pout and flower crown for Lana Del Rey.

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This spirit was expressed in the lineup as well. Each headliner championed a different genre- hip-hop, electronic, pop and even old man country rock (I’m looking at you Ryan Adams). I personally have never experienced a better or more diverse crowd at another festival. The east coast’s answer to Coachella is not as large or as acclaimed, but maybe those factors work to its benefit. Where the expectations are not so rigid or expected and the lineup is so diverse and inclusive, every niche is welcome and every freak flag is flown. Governor’s Ball is easily the highlight of the NYC summer experience, and I cannot wait to see what it has in store next year.SONY DSC