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Kali Uchis – Drunken Babble Mixes 90s Rap with 50s Soul

01/13/2014

Kali Uchis, a singer, songwriter, and rapper based in Virgina by way of Colombia–is different. She’s not sticking to a dress code: from one video to the next, you’ll find her dressed in flatform sneakers with a bandana tied in the front, or showing off her mid-drift with a schoolgirl’s pleated skirt. And as puzzling as her appearance may seem, it’s even more surprising that her style brings to mind a melding of Bone Thugs & Harmony with a contemporary singer like Mayer Hawthorne. But the point of music isn’t to get lost in appearances or comparisons–but the music itself–which is easy with Kali.

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Drake “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (Wild Ones Cover)

01/03/2014

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“My friend played me the song just before we embarked on our last tour down the West Coast,” said Danielle Sullivan, lead singer of Wild Ones, “It became my official anthem.” And while most of the band hadn’t heard the song before and were somewhat skeptical (“Drake? Like that dude from Degrassi?”), the group was swayed and produced their first cover with Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” We’re glad they did.

The group is currently on tour with Surfer Blood (see below for dates).

January 03 @ The Shakedown – Bellingham, WA w/Surfer Blood
January 04 @ Sunset Tavern – Seattle, WA w/Surfer Blood
January 05 @ The Media Club – Vancouver, BC w/Surfer Blood
January 07 @ Lucky Bar – Victoria, BC
January 09 @ Neumos – Seattle, WA w/Telekinesis
January 10 @ The Bartlett – Spokane, WA
January 11 @ Timbrrr Fest – Leavenworth, WA w/Telekinesis, Radiation City
January 12 @ Axe & Fiddle – Cottage Grove, OR
January 14 @ Lowbrau – Sacramento, CA
January 15 @ Bootleg Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
January 17 @ The Void – San Diego, CA
January 18 @ Cellar Door – Visalia, CA
January 21 @ Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco, CA w/Cloud Control

If you’re fan, check out their EP below:

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Phoenix, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend Perform at Not So Silent Night 2013

12/10/2013

Thomas Mars of Phoenix

This weekend, Live 105’s Not So Silent Night festival lived up to its name. Listeners from all over the Bay braved the cold with one common goal in mind: To warm up and listen to some great music.

Both nights featured a diverse lineup, with everything from synth pop to rock. As I walked onto the Oracle floor I saw a varied crowd, and people of all ages and dress code. I stalked an older couple to find the “good food” (which was just pizza and chicken tenders). It had been a while since I experienced a crowd so accessible: They were there to enjoy the music, not to be seen. I suddenly felt uncomfortable wearing my red heels.

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Capital Cities

Capital Cities kicked off the festival and were able to pull off a small dance party. Their selling point was definitely their trumpet player (I’m a sucker for brass), as he eased us into the night with a couple covers and their single “Safe and Sound.”

But the real party started when Arctic Monkeys took the stage. The lights dimmed low and red as the spacious Oracle Arena was transformed into an intimate lounge. They played a mature, blues heavy set featuring many songs from their newest album AM.

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AFI

Seeing Davey Havok of AFI was a big surprise simply because his image has changed so much. His vocals still had that classic, wild sound we all remember him for, but you can’t help but view his stage presence in a new light. The band kept the crowd warm and even started the pit for a second. Then came Queens of the Stone Age, who were pleasantly heavy: everything about their performance was effortless and inviting, despite the growl and bite of their songs. During their set I watched some of the dudes in my close peripheral, going hard, devil horns in the air.

Vampire Weekend then transported us to a parallel dimension; where rock music and floral backgrounds exist together. They were the darlings of the night and as expected, their performance was brilliant but a little too soothing. Kings of Leon continued with a musical nightcap. While they sounded great, their presence was a little bored and disinterested.

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Vampire Weekend

I arrived late the second night but was lucky enough to catch the last half of Lorde’s set. I want to briefly note that she was the only female-leading act of both nights. As a woman, I felt a sense of camaraderie and was proud of Lorde’s confident performance. She knew she was guiding a new generation of young music lovers. With her minimal stage setup and modest outfit (a skirt and a cardigan). She had no gimmicks. We watched and listened as the music spoke for itself.

Phoenix was one of the bands that originally brought me to Not So Silent Night. Their set was loud and upbeat. And when the frenzy of dancing and chanting began during Liztomania,”  I was quickly reminded that I was at a sold out show comprised of nearly 20,000 patrons. Thomas Mars frequently surfed the crowd and he was adamant about testing how deep into it he could go. It was both impressive and silly. Their performance carried a ton of character and unfortunately before we knew it, their shortened 50-minute set was over.

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Thomas Mars of Phoenix

A curtain was drawn over the stage in between sets. The arena became dark and we heard Win Butler’s eerie voice singing “My Body Is a Cage,” but he wasn’t on stage. He was instead standing directly on the floor amongst the crowd, isolated in spotlight. The funeral march sounds of the song grew intense and as it climaxed, the curtain fell to reveal the bandstand of Arcade Fire.

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Win Butler of Arcade Fire

There was no hesitation as they continued on with Reflektor, and the pace of their set did not stop. At one point Butler plucked an iPhone out of the audience, staring into it’s camera quizzcally. We watched everything he and wife Régine Chassagne did with wonderment, partially hypnotized by the sparkling lights of the disco ball, our bodies constantly swaying.

By the end of their set, the floor was covered in confetti. The lights came on and we woke up from our trance, satisfied.

Written By – Lolly Dormido

Photographs By – Darryl Kirchner

Check out the full photo set below:

Arctic Monkeys

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5 Holiday Gifts for Audiophiles on Cyber Monday

12/02/2013

With Thanksgiving behind us, and today’s “Cyber Monday” boom, we have assembled a small holiday guide for audiophiles. From turntable accessories and LPs, to headphones and bluetooth speakers–these days there is no end to the wonderful musical accoutrements to enjoy.

 

Ortofon 2M Blue Default Zoom Image

Ortofon’s 2M Blue Phono Cartridge

Upon a first glance, the unique design of Ortofon’s 2M Blue Cartridge is striking. The company has a series of phono cartridges for your record player, which like Johnny Walker, range in price and quality based on color. Red starts at $99, Blue is $225 and upwards to Bronze and Black. The 2M Blue is a lot more than just looks: the dynamics, sharpness and tone are noticeable even to the untrained ear. Immediately after replacing my old cartridge, it was clear my phono system was boosted. Listening to a live version of The Supremes at the Copa the levels of the crowd’s hoots and hollers became more noticeable in light of their distance from the stage, providing for a more live-concert experience.

For those of you that want to know more of the specifics about the cartridge, take a look here.

The XX Limited Edition Box Set

Oh, The XX. The UK indie-emo band have released two limited pressing (1,000 each) box sets of their first albums. Pressed onto 7″ vinyl and bundled into two box sets with unique artwork, each set costs just over $90. For record collectors and indie fans alike, this isn’t the cheapest addition–but it sure is awesome.

Learn more here.

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Thinksound ms01 (in-ear) Headphones

When shopping for headphones the first thing you have to consider is: do I want in-ear, on-ear or over-ear headphones? For many, the portability of in-ear headphones is a key selling point, not to mention–the price-point. Unfortunately, with in-ear headphones, the quality of the sound is often sacrificed. Not so with the ms01 by Thinksound. These tiny and elegantly designed headphones pack a surprising low-range punch. Additionally, with noise-isolation, it’s easy to notice the clear highs and mids that prove a treat when listening to vocalists or jazz. From house to hip hop–the ms01 deliver the umph you need for head-bobbing trances. The sound is so good it’s easy to forget to mention the makers’ eco-friendly design, with sustainable wood housing, PVC-free cables and plastic free packaging. At just over $100, these headphones are affordable for any music lover eager to improve upon their free cellphone earbuds.

Look more about Thinksound’s ms01 here, and check out their new, higher end on-ear headphones, here.

Sol Republic Deck Wireless Speaker

Sol Republic’s first venture into wireless speakers comes with mix reactions. The slim, easy to carry, speaker is packed with features like “Heist Mode” that allow up to five people to pair real-time to the device and alternate playing music. Perfect for a picnic affair. However, the sound doesn’t match the price at just under $200. Compared to its competitor Mini Jambox by Jawbone, Deck, provides plenty of umph but lacks the lower frequencies to provide the fullest sound.

Learn more here.

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Onkyo ES-HF300 (on ear headphones)

These headphones define auditory pleasure. As one of the oldest audio companies out there, Onkyo’s first dabble into the headphone business is certainly not lacking. At $180 the ES-HF300 pretty much has it all: 1) style, 2) lush sound, 3) durability, 4) features. The matte black is accentuated with a brushed and burnished aluminum cup and a smooth finish that is sleek and elegant. Each cup is padded with soft leather, and the adjustable band provides for a relaxed fit, all without feeling feeling the least bit flimsy. Adding further value is the audiophile-grade copper cable, which easily clips or unclips from the headphones and provides excellent sound quality. Speaking of which, these headphones love bass, but are not overly weighted like Monster’s Beats. They provide a full, clean sound. Actually, the Onkyo ES-HF300 are comparable to the Grado SR80i providing a range and richness that typically is limited to more expensive options or the aforementioned open-back headphones.

Learn more here.

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Recognizing a Star When You See One: Jessie Ware at The Fillmore

11/21/2013

A great performance doesn’t need to bring Jesus on stage or have the largest light show. It just needs a star. From the moment Jessie Ware walks onto the stage Monday night at The Fillmore she is radiant. When she admits to the crowd that she’s “a nice Jewish girl” and says “L’chaim!” fans return a smile and cheers as though they’re reuniting with an old friend. It’s this personableness that makes Ware’s show irresistible (we know, see, see and see), coupled with her raw talent that it makes it special.

Admittedly, Ware’s vocals are restrained on Devotion, her debut album that was released last August. In an interview with The Bay Bridged she explained:

I wanted it to be a subtle, restrained way of singing. I know I can sing really belty, but I don’t think everyone always wants to hear that. If you’re listening to an album, whether you would be on the tube or you’re driving; I don’t want people to turn (the volume on) me down.

This is apparent live. Like neo soul singers Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Tina Turner, all influences and often comparisons for Ware, she will extend her notes and range straying from the subdued tone of her recorded verses. Late into the set, she performs Bobby Caldwells “Do For Love” supported only by her guitarist. Her smooth vocals front and center are unwavering, lofty and yet restrained in a Quiet-Storm-coolness. The moment the bass drops for “Wildest Moment” the crowd forgets the oncoming workweek, erupting in swaying excitement.

Throughout the performance, Ware walks across the stage seemingly in disbelief with the excitement exuding from the crowd, as though mentally trying to capture the moments in hopes of later looking back and thinking to herself “I was pretty good, wasn’t I!” Yes, Jessie Ware you are.

-Photographs by Fabian Molina

Photographs by Jason Paladino

Bill Callahan at the Great American Music Hall

11/20/2013

Even Mr. Callahan himself seemed a bit taken aback by the uproarious energy of the crowd assembled at the Great American Music Hall Saturday night. His songs, mostly down-tempo and full of simple guitar figures and elegant, minute drums that ebb and flow like waves, don’t seem like they would inspire shrieks or giddy girls jumping off their feet, but that’s exactly what they did.

“YEAH, BILL!” someone screamed like it was a goddamn rave.

Callahan looked up, startled, his eyebrow arched quizzically. And after a long silence, “Yeah.” It might have been a question, or even an expression of concern.

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Watch Wet’s “You’re The Best”

11/20/2013

You’re the Best from Wet on Vimeo.

Late last month, Wet debuted their music video for “You’re The Best,” which tells the story where the group got its start: New York City. The trio, comprised of Kelly Zutrau, Martin Sulkow and Joe Valle, have been making music together in various outfits since meeting as students in New York in 2006.

From the press release:

“Pooling all their influences, Wet touch upon everyone from Solange to The XX to Patsy Cline, while still conveying a blissful simplicity that tugs at your heartstrings and forces you to hang onto their every waking word. Their self-titled debut EP is out now on Neon Gold Records.” You can get a taste for it below.

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