JUNGLE brings explosive modern soul to the El Rey Theatre

12/08/2017

Jungle live at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. 12/7/2017. (Photo: Rachel Ann Cauilan | @rachelcansea)

London-based modern soul collective Jungle closed off their United States tour in Los Angeles — and it was fire.

The seven-piece music collective played to a sold-out house of soul lovers at the El Rey Theatre on Thursday night. Their infectious live sound, infused with electronic funk and rhythmic percussions showed they know how to party.

Electronic duo Makeness opened up the show before Jungle took the stage. Their retro electronic synths, drumbeats and keys warmed the crowd up well; but the moment Jungle hit the stage, their big sound, sing-along verses and dance worthy songs set the whole crowd into motion.

So you come a long way
But you’ll never have me
Never have things for a normal life
It’s time, too busy earnin’
You can’t get enough

— “Busy Earnin'” by JUNGLE

Jungle’s self-titled debut album was released in 2014 with lead single “Busy Earnin'” topping charts in the UK and France. Keep up with Jungle at junglejunglejungle.com.

Check out more photos from their performance here.

Morgan Saint is Pop Music’s Next Big Act

12/05/2017

Morgan Saint is an artist I had the opportunity to see and meet last Wednesday night in Los Angeles, and little did I know this New York artist would be on her way to become pop music’s next big act.

“Exactly a year ago today, I was on a plane from New York to LA,” Saint explained to the intimate Moroccan Lounge crowd. “I signed with the team at Epic Records. To my manager, I owe everything to you,” she said in her heartfelt homage.

Morgan Saint live at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles, CA. 11/29/2017. (Photo: Rachel Ann Cauilan | @rachelcansea)

The singer has songs set to make her pop music’s next big act. Her infectious and tasteful production matched with a live guitar and drums were absolutely intoxicating against her vocals about love, broken relationships and friends.

“YOU,” the debut single from Saint’s 17 Hero EP is a “moody pop” hit that is both catchy and haunting with tight production, finger snaps and lyrics that cut deep.

“In my mind, what separates a simply catchy song from a song that has the ability to trigger emotion, is its depth and uniqueness both lyrically and sonically,” Saint told Pigeons & Planes. “I am attracted to music like that, because I think that it is not always easy to come by.”

Saint only has five songs off her debut and each song is already a standout. Embedded with a lot of heart and raw emotion, her songs chronicle the emotional highs and lows through anthemic pop songs such as “Glass House,” which Saint mentioned as her most raw single that takes a plea to “crash into me” and “f**king love me now.” “For God’s Sake” is another hauntingly bare track that speaks of the struggle to “just move on” from someone or to believe if “we [are] brought together by fate.”

Saint’s effortless set with songs played to a tight-knit legion of fans, supporters and her label family make it easy to see that her music is going to catch onto the world. With new songs on the horizon and an impeccable sense of writing and artistry, we’re more than ready for Saint to deliver on songs that make us feel a little something, but also take us away to musical euphoria.

“Hatred is not in my blood. Euphoria is what I feel in my dreams. Love is what I’m searching for.”

Saint made her debut at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on Friday, December 1st as part of POPSCENE with DJ Aaron Axelsen. Her 17 Hero EP is available now on Epic Records. Stay connected with Morgan Saint at morgansaint.com.

Indie pop band Cults put the Teragram Ballroom into a daze

11/22/2017

Cults live at The Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, CA. 11/7/2017. (Photo: Ken Ben Raymundo @welcometotheigloo | Writer: Rachel Ann Cauilan @rachelcansea)

Indie pop band Cults brought their synth pop melodies to the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles last Tuesday, November 7th and put the crowd into a daze.

Known for their breakout hit “Go Outside,” which first gained them the attention of fans worldwide, Cults has gone on to make more music since 2010, with the release of their third full-length album Offering in October of this year.

Founding members guitarist Brian Oblivion and singer Madeline Follin were accompanied by a full band with drums, bass, keys and synths on tour — and as mesmerizing as their music was with projected visuals as accompaniment, their live performance couldn’t have made me any sleepier.

For audience members who have followed the band for years and know their songs by heart, I’ll cut them some slack. But for those of us who came with an open mind and vaguely know their breakout single, their performance could be seen as unexciting as the band hardly showed any movement, interacted with the crowd, or stepped away from their microphones and instruments as to do their job and play their songs. (They did sing a happy birthday to Madeline which was sweet.)

I’ll give it to the Cults though: they’ve got some good music and great recordings, but I’d pass on seeing their live show again.

Jaymes Young wants you to “Feel Something” on tour with Oh Wonder

10/23/2017

Jaymes Young’s moody electro-R&B sounds feel perfectly familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

“Girl I get stoned on you / Rubbing my bones on you,” he sings in pleasant, clear-cut vocals to a vibing electronic drumbeat. “Nothing else burns like you / Ripping my shirt off you.”

With the ability to blend alternative rock, electronic pop and soul all into one, the Seattle-born artist’s moody sentiments on love and relationships are incredibly raw and carefully crafted. With a background of growing up in Seattle and residing in Los Angeles, that scenery seems to fit Young’s music perfectly: his clear-cut vocals are tinged with emotional vulnerability; his production is lush and tight, giving steadiness to his synth pop melodies; and his songs blend elements of upbeat synth percussions and tender pop to heartfelt lyrics.

Young made a stop at the Fox Theater in Oakland to open up for British pop duo Oh Wonder on their Ultralife World Tour last Thursday night — and it’s just a matter of time before the world catches onto Young.

With a liking to Coldplay meets Iron & Wine and Death Cab For Cutie, Young’s music is perfectly textured and catchy. It’s moody and raw, vulnerable and deliberate. The singer-songwriter and musician began writing at the age of 14 and received the attention of critics with his Dark Star EP in 2013. With his debut album Feel Something released this past June, Young has been pushing his music out to listeners new and old.

Watch his performance of “Stoned On You” during his set at the Fox Theater in Oakland below:

You can keep up with everything Jaymes Young and purchase his debut album Feel Something at jaymesyng.com.

Company Of Thieves reunite for 10 years of “Ordinary Riches” at The Troubadour

10/07/2017

Frontwoman Genevieve Schatz of Company of Thieves performs live at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, CA. 9/30/2017. (Photo: Ken Ben Raymundo | @welcometotheigloo)

“It feels like we never stopped,” guitarist, cofounder and cowriter Marc Walloch of the indie rock band Company of Thieves said to me in an interview on Saturday.

The Chicago-born trio, made up of singer and founding member Genevieve Schatz, Walloch and bassist and keyboardist Chris Faller, reunited this September to play a slate of shows nationwide to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album Ordinary Riches. They ended their 12-show run with a hometown show in Los Angeles at the Troubadour Saturday night.

After being on hiatus for three years, the band spent that time discovering their own solo careers — Schatz released a solo EP Show Your Colors in 2013 and Walloch released Through The Seasons under the moniker Spill. As the band quickly became a favorite among the Chicago indie rock scene, only then to be discovered by Wind-Up Records in 2009 with a follow-up release Running From A Gamble in 2011, the band’s legacy and music has stayed.

“We would run into each other around town and see each other at shows and realize we missed playing,” Schatz said.

To kick off their reunion, the band released their newest single “Treasure” — their first release in six years — earlier this summer. Read More

OCS (AKA Thee Oh Sees) Team up with Ty Segall and Shannon Lay for 2 Shows Benefiting Coalition on Homelessness

10/06/2017

If you are like me, the year 2017 has often left you asking yourself what more can I do to help out locally, nationally and beyond. With everything going on in the world, we all need to pitch in where we can; after all we are in this together. That sentiment is definitely not lost on SF’s fantastic community of musicians. Legends OCS (Thee Oh Sees, Oh Sees) have joined forces with friends Shannon Lay and Ty Segall to raise money for some of California’s most vulnerable people. These special shows are set for December 17th and 18th at The Chapel, but tickets go on sale today (10/6) at noon and they will move fast. (Get your tickets here)

Thee Oh Sees have recently made some lineup changes now thrilling crowds as Oh Sees, but for four shows (two in LA and two here in SF) they are OCS, a unique lineup for a great cause. The band features John Dwyer, Brigid Dawson, Tim Hellman, Paul Quattrone and Tom Dolas. And as a special treat, they’ve added a stellar string section featuring Heather Lockie, Eric Clarke and Emily Elkin. Thee Oh Sees have always been a can’t miss show, but in December we are being promised a bit of a departure with a mellow set while supporting our city.

Check out new song “The Fool” by OCS for a taste of what you can expect in December:

Joining OCS is Ty Segall with a special acoustic set. It’s impossible to talk about the heyday of SF Garage without Thee Oh Sees or Ty, making this a dream show for most fans. It is crazy to me that I wrote two paragraphs about a show and I’m only just mentioning Ty Segall. His charisma, song writing and deftness on the guitar are legendary. Add to the lineup Shannon Lay who has her own rock-solid garage rock bonafides in addition to an amazing new album (seriously go listen to Living Water) and you have a show that only a fool would sleep on.

It’s all for a good cause and you can get in for just $25 (plus fees). This is a unique experience and you can get your tickets here.

Photo courtesy of OCS.

Photos: An Astronomical Evening with Sufjan Stevens and Co. at Fox Theater

07/31/2017

Words by Christine Javier
Photos by Leticia Molina

It was a stellar Friday evening at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California, United States, Northern Hemisphere, on planet Earth. The sold-out crowd was in for an out of this world performance of Planetarium, a galactical project by Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and James McAlister, whose summer tour only spanned across four days in four cities.

Show opener, Thao Nguyen (of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down) has been touring as a solo female artist and multi-instrumental musician. She’s got that folk rock, southern vibe from her early roots in Virginia being a first-generation Vietnamese-American. Her guitar influence came from being surrounded in her bluegrass upbringing, and her impressive finger-picking style evolved throughout the night from guitar to mandolin and banjo. Thao and drummer Jason Slota got the crowd started with “Fear and Convenience” and “Kindness Be Conceived.” Her fourth and newest album A Man Alive marks “Departure” as her latest hit––combining her distinct vocal wails and high pitched mandolin riffs as she explores the relationship with her long absent father. While it’s certainly true this theme is a common tribulation especially amongst Asian-Americans, it’s Thao’s striking style and dedicated activism that pulls her up as she continues to rise amongst other female indie folk pop artists.

The supergroup consisting of Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner (guitarist, notably known from The National), James McAlister (percussionist), and Nico Muhly (composer) soon graced the stage for a breathtaking performance of Planetarium. Support came from three trombonists, a violinist and, and a viola player. While Sufjan Stevens needs no introduction as a singer and songwriter, this collaborative concept album transcends an intergalactic voyage of outer consciousness.

Each planet explores various astrological, mythical and scientific themes tied to its ruler and how it relates to our experimental human awakening. It can feel slightly escapist tying their song “Venus”––being the goddess of love in mythology––and relating it to remembering our first sexual experiences. “Jupiter”––with the most moons and scientifically known as a failed star due to its elements resembling the sun in our solar system––is deemed as “the loneliest planet” which rules expansion, travel and the characteristics of a Sagittarian’s competitive quest to the top. “Language can stress reality, and reality is a social construct” Stevens says as he jokes with the audience about quantum physics and the voyage of mind expansion.

Learning about the intricacies of knowing thyself and how we are affected by the planetarium is the ultimate journey towards your self healing––i.e. your sun is who you came to be on this planet and how you deal with things daily, your rising is your higher self, who you are becoming and how others perceive you and how you present yourself to others, while your moon sign is how you deal with your inner emotions behind closed doors. With Stevens’ lighthearted stage presence and artistic creative endeavor for Planetarium (originally performed live in 2012), Dessner, McAlister, and Muhly gave a touching two track encore with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and a Bowie tribute of the classic “Space Oddity.” This is Ground Control to Major Tom, may you find your meaning and continue to protect our best planet that we get to stand on, Mother Earth.

Outside Lands Summer Pairing Series this Week

07/26/2017

For those hungry for a taste of Outside Lands, this week the Summer Pairing Series kicks off. The pared down series features half as many events as the previous year, though offers enthusiasts plenty to be excited about. This Friday, Harmonic Brewing — the newer Dogpatch brewery — partners with Nombe Ramenburger, offerings guests dishes like Teriyaki Stout Ribs made with Harmonic’s Cold-Pressed Stout, avocado fries with serrano aioli, and Japanese poutine to be paired with of the brewery’s offerings on tap. Starting at 5pm, the free event will also feature live funk music from The Joe Cohen Show.

For those foodies seeking the more refined offerings Outside Lands, on August 4th, Rootdown Wine Cellars will pay a visit to Sorrel for a Tasting of Tomatoes, Rosés, and Nouveau Reds. Chef Alex Hong is planning a seven-course dinner that pays homage to tomato varietals from Bay Area farms, celebrating the fruit in its peak season, and will complement it with bright summer wines. Mike Lucia of Rootdown Wine Cellars, a boutique winery, will pair his Healdsburg Rosés and Nouveau Reds with each course and a soundtrack that features Outside Lands hits and headliners from the past 10 years. Reservations must be purchased in advance and are $95 per person; $48 for wine pairings and reservations can be made at 

 

 

Photos: At Burger Boogaloo 2017 Punk Legends Steal the Show

07/11/2017

Words by Farren Jecky, photos by Pedro Paredes-Haz

Oakland’s Burger Boogaloo is now in its eighth year running. The garage punk fest is located in leafy Mosswood Park, just beyond the industrial sprawl, the docklands and the tent cities of downtown. It’s different out here, as the locals will tell you, the heat is a little more intense and the glittering bay seems like a distant dream, the place has grit.

When I arrive Personal & the Pizzas are busy blasting through their set. It’s as good a start to the weekend as any. Three dudes who look like they lost it all in some shady Vegas deal churning out raw, crude tunes like the Ramones’ sleazy uncles.

Speaking of the Brudders from Queens, they’re a major touchstone for the tone of the weekend. Their synthesis of buzzsaw guitars, fifties harmonies and comic book slogans has become the practical blueprint for a lot of modern punk.

However, as I stroll the grounds I come across some people fundraising for DIY venue 924 Gilman and I’m reminded of a time when the Bay Area was known for an entirely different strain of punk rock.

The flyer is old school, black and white, overtly political, it shows some kids raising the Gilman sign in echo of the famous Iwo Jima soldier photo.

Not to get too nostalgic but it is interesting that in the current climate the one thing missing here is any palpable sense of rage. Perhaps people are still reeling, or still too comfortable, or maybe punk has just become jaded in its old age. Its cultural power diminished. I honestly don’t know but I do catch myself longing for a hardcore band or two, some fury to cut through the haze of beer, pizza and perpetual adolescence. Still, these are just momentary reflections on the state of the culture, a critic has to talk about something after all. But it would be churlish to be too negative when people are enjoying themselves this much. Read More

Berkeley’s Toro Y Moi Honored with “Chaz Bundick Day” and “You and I” Music Video

06/29/2017

The city of Berkeley has named June 27 “Chaz Bundick Day” in order to recognize Bundick of Toro Y Moi’s creative contributions to the city’s art and music.

Although born in South Carolina, Bundick, who recently changed his name to Chaz Bear, moved to Berkeley and made himself at home here (quickly becoming the Bay Area’s pride-and-joy within indie music circles).

Known for his chillwave music, Toro Y Moi has released music since his first Body Angles EP in 2009 and debut record Causers of This in 2010. His most recent work was 2016’s live album Live From Trona and this March’s collaborative album with jazz-duo The Mattson 2 in Star Stuff.

Today, Bundick released the new song and video for “You and I” off his upcoming July 7 album Boo Boo.

It seems to be a bright year for the 30-year-old singer, songwriter and record producer. With his own Company Record Label and knack for graphic design, Bundick’s creations are something to take notice of.

Check out the chill new single from Toro Y Moi titled “You and I,” below.

You can purchase Toro Y Moi’s album Boo Boo on July 7 through Carpark Records. Keep up with Chaz Bear at http://toroymoi.com and his socials @toroymoi.

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