Oct 22 2014

CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview

cmj2014600x600 CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
Cougar Microbes is excited to be headed back Stateside in October to attend New York City‘s legendary CMJ Music Marathon.

Now in it’s remarkable 34th (!) year the urban festival keeps growing in scope with 80 venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn welcoming 1000+ acts. As is expected for this kind of thing some of the industries leading names will also be discussing the state of the industry on daytime panels.

With a track record for making and breaking some of the artists we’ve loved and written about over the years the festival is truly a platform for new music to shine. With so much talent due to perform it’s almost impossible to pick a highlight but here are 10 acts we are particularly looking forward to catching at CMJ Music Marathon 2014 :

Cathedrals

cathedralscmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
Solid indie rock fulfilling all your dreampop needs, with echoing vocals and quick but flowing guitar lines, it’s unsurprising that this San Francisco band is Neon Gold’s hottest new act.

Hoodlem
hoodlemcmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview

The sensual, deep, yet strangely airy vocals of Melbourne-based indie electronic group will suck you in quickly. It’s the slow soulful experimental beats that will make sure you stay though.

Made In Heights
madeinheightscmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
Indie duo fronted by female vocals that range from breathy and smooth, to deep and sexy coupled with clever electronic beats and drumpads are a clear recipe for the hottest new indie act. Did I mention their fearless ability to sample a Sufjan piano composition?

AM Aesthetic
amaesthetic CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
These guys have twisted lyrics, guitar breaks that they simple shred on, and an overarching melancholy that makes them a whole lot more enticing than your average alt-rock band.

Ryn Weaver
rynweavercmhj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
If you’ve been anywhere near the internet since June, you know that this chick is the next big indie-pop act. Having a good friend in producer Benny Blanco doesn’t hurt her sound either.

BORNS
bornscmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
With only one single available, this Michigan native still holds much promise and excitement for what else he is capable of. His smooth vocals backed by dreampop instrumentals make BORNS one of our must-see acts of CMJ.

Secret Someones
secretsomeonecmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
A trio of ladies from Brooklyn and their dear male drummer providing plenty of catchy indie pop rock to share with this year’s CMJ audience.

SKYROADS
skyroads band image CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
Hailing all the way from Tel Aviv, this 5-piece group gives us the taste of electro-funk dance rock that we’ve been missing from our lives. Consider them to be your modern day Jamiroquai.

Emily Wolfe
emilywolfecmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
Texas rock in female-form finding the happy medium between Black Keys grit, and a softer Grace Potter sound on vocals.

Alexz Johnson
alexzjohnsoncmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
Alexz shows how relocating to NYC can turn a good-girl Canadian singer-songwriter into an edgier pop artist with a taste of rock.

Snir Yamin

sniryamincmj CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview
Singer-songwriter Snir Yamin takes his confessional sounds to his adopted home of New York City performing CMJ for the first time. Expect delicate melodies and a little veering into electronic territory.

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Words by Jabes
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doublecougar CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Preview


Sep 28 2014

Bonnaroo 2014: Day 4 (Feat. Vance Joy, Little Dragon and Elton John)

Bonnaroo 20141 1024x768 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 4 (Feat. Vance Joy, Little Dragon and Elton John) Together with approximately 80,000 other people we headed to Manchester, TN to witness this year’s edition of Bonnaroo. With great vibes and amazing music on display throughout the 4 days it is clear that Bonnaroo isn’t outdone by any of the other global festivals.

 Vance Joy

Vancy Joy bonnarroo 1024x768 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 4 (Feat. Vance Joy, Little Dragon and Elton John) I awoke early for my last day on the farm, and came to Centeroo to catch Australia‘s newest acoustic sensation, Vance Joy. Backed by 3 other band members – drums, keyboards, and a bass – Vance played some simplistic, standard, singer-songwriter arrangements such as “Snaggletooth.” The only unique part of his set was when he performed “Play With Fire” on ukulele. I was surprised to see how well he kept the crowd despite how ordinary he turned out to be. Then again, like myself, we all might have been hanging around to hear him close out with “Riptide,” which is, undeniably his best composition by far. With its vocals that climb and fall down the scales much like that of an ocean wave, bolstered by a Hawaiian type strumming, “Riptide” is the standout favorite worth waiting for.

 Little Dragon

Little dragon Bonnarroo 1024x768 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 4 (Feat. Vance Joy, Little Dragon and Elton John)

Fresh off the heels of their latest album release ‘Nabuma Rubberband‘, Little Dragon sauntered onto the stage for an especially mellow show, just as the night time was approaching. Despite the volume of chanteuse Yukimi Nagano‘s multi-colored full-length skirt, her vocals were way too low for the first half of the show. A gradual progression of better sound mixing, alongside the steadily increased BPM, songs like “Klapp Klapp” slowly and steadily came together. The highest energy of the show was brought on by past electropop favorites from ‘Ritual Union‘. Then, with the sunset backdrop, it was time to bring it down a notch to end the set. Amidst the haunting piano introduction of “Twice,” the entire audience held up their lighters – not their phones – for a moment of nostalgic concert-going beauty that closed out the show in sweet melancholy.

 Elton John

elton john bonnaroo Bonnaroo 2014: Day 4 (Feat. Vance Joy, Little Dragon and Elton John)

With his natural panache, the 67-year-old Sir Elton John made his way onto the What Stage, dressed in a blazer adorned with sparkly rainbows on the sleeves and pockets. Seated behind a bright red grand piano, he performed for 2 hours straight, breezing through old favorites, such as “Tiny Dancer,” “Bennie & the Jets,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “Your Song.” An amusing moment was when a festival-goer released the enormous Buzz Lightyear balloon he had been toting around perfectly in sync with the first chorus of “Rocket Man,” eliciting massive cheers from the audience. Later in the show, Elton invited friend, and fellow piano connoisseur, Ben Folds, to the stage to perform a tune off of “Yellow Brick Road“, “Grey Seal.” The only disappointment was the lack of Lion King songs, which were heavily expected to be slipped into the night’s repertoire. Thankfully, we were given “Crocodile Rock” to close out the night – and all of Bonnaroo – on a soaring high. —– Words by Jabes —– doublecougar Bonnaroo 2014: Day 4 (Feat. Vance Joy, Little Dragon and Elton John)


Sep 27 2014

Bonnaroo 2014: Day 3 (Feat. Royal Canoe, Haerts, Cayucas and Skrillex Superjam)

Bonnaroo 20141 1024x768 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 3 (Feat. Royal Canoe, Haerts, Cayucas and Skrillex Superjam)

Together with approximately 80,000 other people we headed to Manchester, TN to witness this year’s edition of Bonnaroo. With great vibes and amazing music on display throughout the 4 days it is clear that Bonnaroo isn’t outdone by any of the other global festivals.

 Royal Canoe

royal canoe Bonnaroo 2014: Day 3 (Feat. Royal Canoe, Haerts, Cayucas and Skrillex Superjam)

After two days of clouds and sporadic rain, Saturday brought the first truly hot summer Tennessee day of Roo. Seeking shade, I caught Royal Canoe cozied up on the small stage under the Cafe Where tent. Upon playing “Birthday,” I couldn’t help but compare their sound to Flight of the Conchords (sans comedic lyrics,) which was so bizarre to me since Flight is only two dudes. Royal Canoe has 2 drummers, a guy on synth/keyboards, a lead guitarist, a bass player who looks exactly like James Van Der Beek, and a lead singer who showcased an array of talents jumping from synth to tambourine to guitar throughout the set. “Hold Onto the Metal” was the most playful, but with it’s bouncy 80′s synth instrumentals, along with it’s staccato vocals and quick lyrics, all I could think of was Flight – and I mean that in the best way possible. They closed out their set with the slow grooves of “Summersweat,” and just as the lead singer said at the time, it was applicable.

 Haerts

Haerts Bonnarroo 1024x768 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 3 (Feat. Royal Canoe, Haerts, Cayucas and Skrillex Superjam)

Elegantly clad in a white dress with a deep V-neck that nearly reached her belly button, lead singer Nini Fabi graced the stage with her band HAERTS. With only an EP under their belt, many songs were new to the throng of devoted fans drawn out of the heat and into The Other Tent. Considering the depressing concept that it’s based on “Hemiplegia” was well received, strengthened by dream pop instrumentals and Fabi‘s legato crisp and pure vocals, it was difficult to not be mesmerized. They closed out with their first single “Wings” which is exceedingly more popular due to being the most upbeat of the set. Considering that single was released in 2012, I find that this band’s whole existence is based on the premise that slow and steady does, in fact, win the race.

 Cayucas

Cayucas bonnaroo 1024x682 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 3 (Feat. Royal Canoe, Haerts, Cayucas and Skrillex Superjam)

Saturday was a great day for steering clear of the thousands flocking to the big acts, and checking out the smaller stages instead. Drawn in by the California vibes coming off the Solar Stage, I caught indie-pop band Cayucas. With catchy choruses such as “High School Lover,” this 4-piece act hosted an adorably small, sun-drenched dance party in the grass. Surf pop at its finest, complete with a song titled “Hella,” with had a chorus that merely repeated the ever-present SoCal slang word, with some hip shaking music behind it. Later in the day I overheard them playing the catchy chorus “hella, hella, hella” again, for a quick second chance to dance over to the next act I was heading for.

Skrillex Superjam

skrillex live Bonnaroo 2014: Day 3 (Feat. Royal Canoe, Haerts, Cayucas and Skrillex Superjam)
If there is one thing that makes Bonnaroo unique amongst all festivals, it is Superjam. The annual tradition of hosting a wide array of artists to jam together on a stage to make beautiful music, is still at its height after 13 years. This year, Bonnaroo went over the top with Superjam, by having not one, but three separate jams – and the one I chose to attend was easily the most hyped up, and the most talked about for the rest of the festival: Skrillex ‘s Superjam.

Similarly to the masses, I quickly assumed that this event would be a solid lineup of musicians playing their tunes with heavy EDM blaring behind them from Skrillex‘s laptop. We couldn’t have possibly been more wrong. To paint the picture, Skrillex was actually on electric guitar for the better part of f the 3-hour set, with Big Gigantic acting as house-band.

There’s no way for me to properly explain what I witnessed, other than to merely list all of the awesomeness as it happened. Warpaint opened up the night with Techtronic‘s “Pump Up The Jam,” which got the crowd going, only to have everyone let loose on “Let Me Clear My Throat.” When Janelle Monae joined on stage, she played her own “Tightrope,” then had the whole tent chanting “mamase mamasa mamakusa” as she rocked out on Michael Jackson‘s “Wanna Be Startin Something,” and segued into “I Feel Good” channeling her best James Brown. Robby Kreiger, now the only living member of The Doors, took over the stage to wail on guitar for “Break On Through,” something my father would have fainted at the sight of. Other highlights included stellar covers of Bill Withers‘ “Use Me” and Toto‘s “Africa,” but unfortunately due to my distance from the stage, I have absolutely no idea who performed these songs.

As the set came to a close and the crowd dissipated, a few of my friends and I stayed for what was hands down the greatest highlight of all of Bonnaroo: Ms. Lauryn Hill came out for a half hour encore. With Big Gigantic replacing her own new afro-fusion band (which I seriously disliked at her solo set) Hill took off rapping in double time to “Lost Ones” and “Oh La La La.” They closed out the whole night with Hill serenading the crowd Fugees‘ “Ready or Not.” It was absolutely fantastic.

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Words by Jabes
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doublecougar Bonnaroo 2014: Day 3 (Feat. Royal Canoe, Haerts, Cayucas and Skrillex Superjam)


Sep 3 2014

Bonnaroo 2014: Day 2 (Feat. Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Disclosure)

Bonnaroo 20141 1024x768 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 2 (Feat. Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Disclosure)

Together with approximately 80,000 other people we headed to Manchester, TN to witness this year’s edition of Bonnaroo. With great vibes and amazing music on display throughout the 4 days it is clear that Bonnaroo isn’t outdone by any of the other global festivals.

 Sam Smith

sam smith bonnaroo 2014 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 2 (Feat. Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Disclosure)

With a 2pm set, UK’s Sam Smith kicked off Day 2 of ‘Roo properly. In the last year, this contralto has exploded onto the music scene – specifically across the pond and into the States. His absolutely gorgeous vocals have taken him very far in the last year, and hearing them live is truly hypnotizing. Smith played mostly slower tunes as the crowd slowly but surely gravitated to the power of his sound. He waited until the middle of his set to perform the upbeat “Money On My Mind” and let the true magnetism draw the thousands nearer. Despite everyone wanting Disclosure to come on stage for a few of the collaborations the duo has with him, Smith performed a solo acoustic version of “Latch,” instead.

Janelle Monae

janelle monae bonnarroo 2014 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 2 (Feat. Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Disclosure)

Taking over the What Stage on Friday afternoon Janelle Monae, accompanied by her fantastic band and dancers, put on one of the more elaborate performances at Bonnaroo. It is a truly rare sight to see full blown choreography on the farm – it’s just not that kind of festival – and yet, Monae owned her audience, captivating the crowd with not only her high energy, but with her soaring vocals. The best moments were crowd-pleasers “Dance Apocalyptic” and “Tightrope” which had everyone dancing in the grass, and wishing she had a few more uptempo tracks.

Kanye West

fuckkanye 1024x768 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 2 (Feat. Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Disclosure)

For those that don’t know the story behind this controversial show, allow me to briefly enlighten you, as I learned the real story from Kanye West himself while he ranted on stage in between long stretches of silence and hit songs. Back in 2008 Kanye was slotted to play a 2am set at Bonnaroo, and didn’t go on until about 5am – apparently this was because Phish ran over their set by about 2 hours, and there wasn’t enough time to set up all of Kanye‘s pyrotechnics that he refused to perform without. According to him festival-goers even vandalized his equipment in the interim before he took the stage.

Needless to say Bonnaroovians were outraged, and despite our main slogan being “Radiate Positivity,” most have additionally adopted the slogan “Fuck Kanye” – and the whole community is aware of how hard it has stuck.

Joining the stage at exactly 10pm on the nose, Kanye began his set by angrily growling a few choice Yeezus tracks into the microphone while wearing a gold mesh chain face mask. After his first of many pontifications, he went directly into “Power” with the all-too-appropriate lyrics “screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it, I guess every superhero need his theme music.” The show was a bizarre roller coaster of emotions – some boo-ing, some cheering, some chants of the aforementioned abhorrent phrase, and some people like me who were singing along loudly. You can’t deny West‘s ability to turn a crowd around that quickly. Highlights included “Jesus Walks,” “Blood On The Leaves,” “All Falls Down,” “Heartless,” and his verse on Jay-Z‘s “Run This Town.”

As I have been saying for years, in the simplest words, Kanye is brilliantly out of his mind.

Disclosure

1035x690 140614 bonnaroo 12 cc disclosure 1024x682 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 2 (Feat. Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Disclosure)

We’re all here for the music, and it was nice to take a break from the talking and get back to the dancing with Disclosure. The electronic duo gave us the epic dance night that Friday nights at ‘Roo are supposed to be. Playing out “When A Fire Starts To Burn” along with the incessant teasing of “Stimulation” the audience was overwhelmed by endless clever beats to move to. The day came full circle, as the boys introduced Sam Smith to join them for their final song of the night, “Latch.” It was expected, extremely worth the wait, and naturally the perfect way to close out their set.

Note: I did catch South Africans Die Antwoord, which was genuinely scary. The dude was essentially yelling obscenities into the microphones while the chick squeaked out a very high-pitched echoing of obscenities. I rarely leave shows because of the actual music… sad to say, this was one of those moments.

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Words by Jabes
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doublecougar Bonnaroo 2014: Day 2 (Feat. Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, Kanye West, Disclosure)


Sep 3 2014

Bonnaroo 2014: Day 1 (Feat. Robert DeLong, ZZ Ward, Banks)

Bonnaroo 2014 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 1 (Feat. Robert DeLong, ZZ Ward, Banks) Together with approximately 80,000 other people we headed to Manchester, TN to witness this year’s edition of Bonnaroo. With great vibes and amazing music on display throughout the 4 days it is clear that Bonnaroo isn’t outdone by any of the other global festivals.

Robert DeLong

robert delong bonnaroo Bonnaroo 2014: Day 1 (Feat. Robert DeLong, ZZ Ward, Banks)

Having heard only a few Robert DeLong songs, I assumed that he was primarily a DJ and that I was headed dance to some good electronica from a guy bouncing around behind a laptop. Much to my surprise, once I could see the stage under The Other Tent, DeLong had half a drum set in front of him, as well as a microphone, a keyboard, and a synth – to say I was impressed would be an understatement. DeLong is a true one-man-band, and watching him prove it on stage is truly a sight to see. His vocals are reminiscent the soft understated Ben Gibbard, but his beats tend to drop and glitch out similarly to Diplo. As if the music hadn’t already caused the first official dance party of ‘Roo - once the 28-year-old Washington native started to play his track “Global Concepts” the crowd exploded with its perfect hook of “Did I make you fucking dance?

ZZ Ward

bonnaroo 2014 shaltz zz ward 25 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 1 (Feat. Robert DeLong, ZZ Ward, Banks)

ZZ Ward (née Zsuzsanna Eva Ward) and her band rocked out the late afternoon from That Tent. She sat down at the piano to solo for the sweet sadness of “Last Love Song” and her band gradually joined her one by one to beautifully add to the drama of the song as it builds. The crowd went wild during the catchy upbeat “Put The Gun Down,” so she took advantage of the energy and allowed her drummer to take off on a solo that was nothing short of awesome. She finished off the song milking it for all it was worth, displaying the breadth of her range by riffing like her voice was an electrical guitar for a solid 30 seconds.

Banks

banks bonnaroo 2014 Bonnaroo 2014: Day 1 (Feat. Robert DeLong, ZZ Ward, Banks) Announcing that this was her first time playing a festival after dark, Banks took control of the night with the ominous heavy bass of her tracks. She was at piano for majority of the show, though it was hard to see if anyone else was on stage with her through the thousands of fans gathered to see her perform. With her full album set to drop at the end of the summer, it was impressive to see the numbers she drew. In the midst of the melancholy theme looming through the show, Banks took a sharp (but welcomed) turn into a cover of Aliyah‘s “Are You The Somebody” at the piano, complete with Timbaland‘s verse. She mellowed her crowd back down, closing out her set with her most popular “Waiting Game.” —– Words by Jabes —– doublecougar Bonnaroo 2014: Day 1 (Feat. Robert DeLong, ZZ Ward, Banks)


Aug 17 2014

Weekend Videos: The Flight – The Idol And The Idle


The musical partnership between Joe Henson and Alexis Smith aka The Flight have produced something impressive dating back to their coming together in 2005. Since then, their creative production hub in East London has worked with some of the biggest names in music such as Lana Del Rey, Bjork and Elbow.

Their latest EP ‘The Sinner Inside‘ sees talented American singer/songwriter Alana Stewart, an artist we have been following for some time, taking on vocal duties may just be their most wondrous and exciting project to date.

The Idol and the Idle‘, the 2nd track from the EP is everything British music should be proud of. Understated is a word that is thrown around in this post-XX time, but moody, patient production cooks at the bottom of a pot of brooding vocal sass and beautiful analogue synths. The fact that the song is immediately so iconic without an obvious chorus only strengthens their case.

The lyric “God gets muddy in the glass” is the stuff of Twain, and conjures up a revelation of a world stuck between false promises, filling our voids with frivolous and carnal passions. This is combined with a stark and gritty video accompaniment that asks whether it is better to drink, dance and lay my way into middle age, or to actually think outside the box. Or look up from the box. Or remove my face from someone’s box. Either way I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

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Post by T.R. Wicks

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TRACKS:

doublecougar Weekend Videos: The Flight   The Idol And The Idle


Jun 19 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Potatohead People

Potatohead People EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Potatohead People

There’s always a surrealism to meeting people after your perception of them has been pre-informed by a body of work. Even more so after you find yourself shadowing them for a haze filled weekend, connecting the dots to between that and their true selves.

Yo, I have all this Israeli prog stuff from the late 70’s I have to show you. Incredible stuff”, says Nate, or AstroLogical as he appears in my iTunes library. “There’s something about that time in music, all over the world, like 73-79, there’s great fusion & prog, like this one band Sheshet, so good, what does that mean in Hebrew?” “Six, or Sixth, I think.” I responded. I imagine myself out of body, being tripped out by the scene where I sit, having one of my favorite producers show me gems from my parent’s native land. “Have you heard of Buttering Trio?” I ask, equally tripped in hipping him to my favorite active Israelis going. I pull something up. “Woah, I’m so into this, I can really hear their soul, this is fantastic”. We peruse their YouTube together on Nick Wisdom’s living room couch oriented near a window in such a way as to mimic your typical diner booth, verifying what I previously knew about his fetish with breakfast.

Continue reading


Jun 10 2014

Weekend Videos: Kosha Dillz – “What’s Going On Upstairs”

Last time we featured Kosha Dillz we said he was the hardest working man in hip hop and that claim still stands. . When he isn’t freestyling with the likes of A$AP Rocky and Macklemore (the awesome results of which you can see at the bottom of this post)the New Jersey emcee drops some awesome and slightly bonkers videos.

His latest offering “What’s Going On Upstairs” sees Kosha getting himself in all sorts of awkward situations to show some of the crazy shit your neighbours may or may not be getting up to behind closed doors.

This is the 4th single from his excellent 2013 ‘Awkward In A Good Way‘ album, make sure you check it out!

TRACKS: doublecougar Weekend Videos: Kosha Dillz   Whats Going On Upstairs