Jan 9 2014

2013: The Year in Music

20140107 034257 2013: The Year in Music

2013 was a great year for music marked by phenomenal comebacks from some of the biggest bona fide superstars as well as remarkable debuts and sophomore albums from a hungry crop of up and coming artists. It was also a year where we had to bid farewell to Lou ReedRay Manzarek and Benjamin Curtis to name a few who will be sorely missed.

Over the past 12 months we attended SXSW in Austin, The Great Escape in Brighton, Culture Collide in LA and CMJ in New York as well as catching breakout performances by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The xx, Drake and Alt-J

With so much good music coming out in 2013 choosing which records stood out amongst the rest was a fairly easy task, the hardest part was keeping this year’s list to a respectable number (and all the while one of the debuts we were most excited over was bumped to 2014).

Without further ado here is the Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013

TRACKS:

doublecougar 2013: The Year in Music

 


Dec 24 2013

Backstage with Bombay Show Pig

Hot on the heels of FILTER Culture Collide and the cusp of CMJ, Bombay Show Pig sat down with us to discuss festival life, their debut album, ‘Vulture/Provider‘, and what the remainder of 2013 has in store.

We caught up with the indie rock duo from Amsterdam following their final show in LA at Harvard and Stone. Between hashing out the the differences of touring France and the US (less hamburgers), and impersonating industry-types’s smart phone dependency, we learned that although they perform live as a duo, on the record you’ll hear Linda (drums/vocals) and Mathias (guitar/vocals), playing everything from melodic percussion, to strings, and horns.

In fact, LA audiences were treated to a fuller sound thanks to guest appearances from bassist Adrian Rodriguez, who’s been touring with a personal, local favorite: Hanni El Khatib. They met in appropriate fashion at after-hours hot spot, The Overpass, after a gig earlier this year.

Watch the interview to get the full scoop on what happens when Usher swings by your SXSW showcase (sadly no Bieber in tow), and be sure to give their low-fi, garage rock gems a listen.

Vulture/Provider‘ is now available worldwide on Spotify.

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Post by by NicoleTwitter@nikki_redhead
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TRACKS:

doublecougar Backstage with Bombay Show Pig


Dec 4 2013

CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 3 (Torres, Birth Of Joy, Ava Luna, WET)

cmj music marathon banner CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 3 (Torres, Birth Of Joy, Ava Luna, WET)

Now into its 3rd decade of existence CMJ Music Marathon has earned a reputation for picking largely unknown acts and ushering them towards imminent success. With 1400 acts playing across 80+ venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn there really is something for everybody.

Here are our personal highlights:

Torres | Pete’s Candy Store

Torres live at 2013 CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 3 (Torres, Birth Of Joy, Ava Luna, WET)
Pete’s Candy Store‘s train carriage performance space is an unusual venue to say the least but to catch a part of Torres‘, AKA Mackenzie Scott, set I was more than willing to put up with it. Flanked on the small stage solely by her drummer The Nashville-based 22-year-old’s singer/songwriter managed to maintain the stripped down qualities that made her self-titled debut so endearing while managing to inject some much needed live energy too. Scott‘s harrowing vocals are the real attraction here conveying sentiments and feelings that are far more insightful than anyone at her age should be feeling let alone expressing. The crowd reacts with a hushed reverence occasionally pierced by polite applause and the overwhelming feeling is that Torres has hypnotised us all. Whatever she is doing I hope it continues.

Birth Of Joy | Knitting Factory

Birth Of Joy live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 3 (Torres, Birth Of Joy, Ava Luna, WET)

Fresh from a whirlwind tour that has seen them hit Culture Collide in Los Angeles Birth Of Joy are the kind of band whose music it is impossible not to nod your head along to. The Dutch  power trio bring to mind power bands of the 60′s and 70s bringing to mind a collision between the MC5s and The Doors. A shirtless Kevin Stunneberg nails every note he sings without missing a beat all while shredding his guitar and offering riff upon riff all like the best of them. His bandmates are no less proficient with the organ playing it’s part and the enthusiastic drumming offering a heartbeat to proceedings. They end the show sweaty and satsified safe in the knowledge that a few more people have been converted to the Birth Of Joy cause.

Ava Luna – Muchmores

Ava Luna live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 3 (Torres, Birth Of Joy, Ava Luna, WET)
Venturing over to Muchmores as much for the pre-announced free beer as to get away from some pretentious act that just hit the stage we were in for a pleasant surprise in the form of Ava Luna. It’s really hard to pigeonhole this Brooklyn 5-piece’s sound when I’m not even sure the guys and gals themselves know what kind of band they want to be. They alternate between high tempo angular garage, shoegazy and retro-soul within their set altering vocalist accordingly. They’re still a little rough around the edges but there’s plenty to look forward to in the future.

WET | Santos

WET live at CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 3 (Torres, Birth Of Joy, Ava Luna, WET)
For such talented people creating beautiful dreampop beats, displayed brilliantly on “U Da Best,” it was disappointing to see what little movement there was between WET‘s three band members. Perhaps too new to the performance game, it seemed this trio was simply standing on a stage only focused on playing their instruments as though there was no audience to entertain. Their harmonies worked well, with the two men backing the solo lead female, and their sound was still exciting and different – I just wished they showed the heartbreaking emotion of some of the songs they were singing. I still have confidence that with all this room for growth, they may stun me at their next show with their presumably longer set list.

TRACKS:

doublecougar CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 3 (Torres, Birth Of Joy, Ava Luna, WET)


Dec 3 2013

CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

cmj music marathon banner CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Now into its 3rd decade of existence CMJ Music Marathon has earned a reputation for picking largely unknown acts and ushering them towards imminent success. With 1400 acts playing across 80+ venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn there really is something for everybody.

Here are our personal highlights:

Ben Caplan | Arlene’s Grocery
Ben Caplan live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Ben Caplan is a man equipped with a striking appearance and a voice to boot. His massive beard is potentially only outdone by his huge charisma and today at Arlene’s Grocery this is no different. The canadian troubadour commanded the room ranting and raving between songs before breaking into his passionate mini folk epics. Short of his usual backing band theses songs took on new meanings with their lyrical wisdom resonating particularly well thanks in large part to Ben‘s unique booming voice. This man was born to perform.

In The Valley Below | Pianos Upstairs
in the valley below live cmj CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Los Angeles based In The Valley Below‘s civil war evoking outfits are stylistically eye-catching but their music is no less imposing. The meeting of Michigan born Angela Gail and Memphis raised Jeffrey Jacob has produced an elegant mix of organic sounds and just the right amount of electronic influences. Their unique vocal stylings complement each other wonderfully and the on stage chemistry is evident as glances and knowing smiles are frequently shared. At one point Gail produces a chain which she uses as an added percussive sound; the result manages to be both haunting and beautiful.

Dorine Levy | Fat Baby
Dorine Levy live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

We head on over to the Tune-In Tel Aviv showcase at Fat Baby to see what is the best Israel has to offer. The last time we caught Dorine Levy live was at this year’s SXSW where she debuted her new touring lineup (essentially consisting of Dorine and her talented jack-of-all-trades husband Eitan). A few months have passed since then and the Israeli will soon be releasing her debut LP  ’Diver‘ (review coming soon) meaning this set is a superb indicator of the progress she has made so far this year. It’s immediately evident that the entire live experiences has been sharpened over this time as newer songs have become fixtures in her set and there is a sense of momentum throughout. Notably Dorine has toned down her personal interaction with keyboard, laptops and other gizmos leaving much of this to Eitan. This new found freedom results in more audience participation and eye contact and allows the songstress to fully launch into each performance. Her next stop is Nouvelle Prague festival in the Czech Republic and after that the world.

Adi Ulmansky  | Fat Baby
Adi Ulmansky live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Adi Ulmansky is a veritable burst of color on stage at Fat Baby tonight. This is Adi‘s North American debut and after playing a triumphant set at Filter’s Culture Collide festival in LA she’s ready to take over NYC as well. Rocking her newly braided (but always multi-colored) hair and a scanty outfit her allure offers a false sense of security much like a praying mantis. Once she starts performing the transformation is evident and it feels she could literally bite your head off. Over a backdrop of self produced kaleidoscopic 8-bit epic beats Adi raps and croons with the best of them switching from being extremely menacing one moment to highly vulnerable the next. The aforementioned ‘Hurricane Girl‘ EP was one of the great suppress of this year and we expect great things from this girl in 2014.

ASTR | Pianos
ASTR live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

After ASTR‘s lead singer Zoe, announced that it was her birthday, it was apparent that the people who managed to get into the backroom of Pianos were in for a great show. Singing her heart out and whipping her long red haired ponytail around the stage, Zoe‘s energetic performance echoed throughout the packed room. Her partner in crime, Adam – a fluffy haired dude with Buddy Holly glasses – handled the high powered beats by banging on drum pads (strongly resembling the set from the game Rock Band) with effervescence. Their electro-pop track “Razor” had the crowd dancing and sweating along with them, though ASTR still displayed their range of abilities with a cover of Drake‘s “Hold On We’re Going Home.” The overall great performance left the crowd wanting more, and I’m excited to see what other dance tracks are to come from this group.

Mean Creek |Pianos Upstairs
Mean Creek CMJ 2013 CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

Last for the night was Massachusetts garage rockers Mean Creek who were basically the antithesis of much of what we had seen so far solely on the premise of having a real live drummer. There is a really endearing underdog quality to this Boston gang’s repertoire that translates instantly and makes you want to root for them. The band are gearing up for the release of their 4th LP ‘Local Losers‘, the first for Old Flame Records,  in early 2014 with a set that incorporated material from that upcoming release. The sense of excitement at airing these tracks is palpable as the four piece launch into each new song with extra enthusiasm. There is also time for a particularly spot on cover of The DescendentsSilly Girl‘ which leaves those in the know particularly pleased. ‘Local Losers‘ can’t come any sooner.

TRACKS:

doublecougar CMJ Music Marathon 2013: Day 2 (Ben Caplan, In The Valley Below, Dorine Levy, Adi Ulmansky, ASTR, Mean Creek)

 


Dec 1 2013

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 : Day 1 (Panama Wedding, NONONO, U.S. Royalty, Computer Magic)

cmj music marathon banner CMJ Music Marathon 2013 : Day 1 (Panama Wedding, NONONO, U.S. Royalty, Computer Magic)

Now into its 3rd decade of existence CMJ Music Marathon has earned a reputation for picking largely unknown acts and ushering them towards imminent success. With 1400 acts playing across 80+ venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn there really is something for everybody.

Here are our personal highlights:

Panama Wedding | Mercury Lounge
Panama wedding live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013 : Day 1 (Panama Wedding, NONONO, U.S. Royalty, Computer Magic)

After a slew of unofficial daytime shows we ventured into a packed Mercury Lounge to witness what would be the first of several CMJ performances by newcomers Panama Wedding. There was considerable buzz surrounding the NYC band despite the single “All Of The People” being their sole release but the band were not caught unprepared. The band’s short set could have betrayed their lack of material, instead their focussed performance succeeded in showcasing their dreamy laid back sound to a thrilled audience. Naturally the aforementioned “All Of The People” garnered the biggest cheer but Panama Wedding provided numerous highpoints to come away with.

NONONO | Mercury Lounge
nonono live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013 : Day 1 (Panama Wedding, NONONO, U.S. Royalty, Computer Magic)

Any band making the trip over to to make their North American debut would be forgiven for being a little apprehensive on the night; not NONONO. The Swedish trio kicked off their set and never looked back with frontwoman Stina Wappling taking very little time to win this audience over with her undoubted charm and, crucially, her sultry vocals. As the band peppered their set with newbies and tracks from their debut EP ‘Pumpin Blood‘ they gave each other mischievous looks aiding to the sense that we were witnessing something special on the night.  With production duo Astma & Rocwell providing a perfect backdrop for Stina‘s vocals to soar NONONO set the template for female fronted electro-tinged acts that we’d be seeing throughout CMJ this year but despite this only being the first night the trio had already set the bar extremely high.

U.S. Royalty | Rockwood Music Hall
U.S. Royalty live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013 : Day 1 (Panama Wedding, NONONO, U.S. Royalty, Computer Magic)

Still buzzing from the previous performances we swiftly moved along to catch Washington, DC‘s U.S. Royalty at the nearby Rockwood Music Hall. I had just DJed with John Thornley in DC but this was a far cry from the mild mannered guy who had spun some excellent tunes a few days earlier. In his place  a formidable frontman channelling everyone from Jim Morrison to Steven Tyler to Robert Plant with his ability to scream or serenade, often within the same song. Dressed in fitting outfits that incorporated everything from zebra prints to a feather boa this rock powerhouse stormed through a set heavy on 70′s tinged balls out stadium sized riffs. Rock n Roll is alive and well.

Computer Magic | Studio @ Webster Hall
Computer Magic live CMJ CMJ Music Marathon 2013 : Day 1 (Panama Wedding, NONONO, U.S. Royalty, Computer Magic)

A late night trip allows us to catch the tail end of Computer Magic‘s set at the Studio at Webster Hall. I’ve been a fan of frontwoman Danielle Johnson‘s (aka Danz) project for a while and after just missing at SXSW I was glad I could make amends. Live her optimistic retro synthpop takes on a new life with the addition of a live wire drummer that gives these tracks a whole new dimension. Meanwhile the petite Danz surveys the venue from over her laptop and keyboard while delivering the sugar sweet melodies that made me come out here in the first place. This was a great way to end the night.

TRACKS:

doublecougar CMJ Music Marathon 2013 : Day 1 (Panama Wedding, NONONO, U.S. Royalty, Computer Magic)

 


Dec 4 2012

Tiny Fingers release instrumental live-set “MEGAFAUNA”

Tiny Fingers made people standup and take notice with their 2011 release ”Massive Fingers Spacetrip” which deservedly got the band attention in their native Israel. Earlier this year they followed it up with “Foreign Telegrams“, an album conceived and recorded in one intense session.

The genre hopping outfit continue their prolific spree re-emerging last month with what is surely their most ambitious project to date. Recorded in a single take, ”MEGAFAUNA” shows a band that clearly thrives in the pressure cooker environment of the studio delivering a brilliant dose of post-rock and electronic sounds with grooves the size of the Grand Canyon.

Whilst their music will undeniably be a little heavy for some listeners there is a keen sense of melody throughout the project bringing to mind a cross between Planes Mistaken For Stars and The Mars Volta. The latter is not a completely casual reference as the El Paso superstars hand-picked Tiny Fingers as their support act during their israeli tour.

With dates in New York City for CMJ already under their belt and plans for a US and Scandinavian tour to come you can expect Tiny Fingers to continue rising and on the basis of their recent output will likely surprise us with at least a couple more genre-bending releases in 2013.

MEGAFAUNA” is out now and will be released via YouTube in its entirety with the three-piece promising further track leaks in the next few weeks.

TRACKS:

doublecougar Tiny Fingers release instrumental live set MEGAFAUNA


Oct 22 2011

Weekend Videos: Friends – ‘I’m His Girl’

Here is the new video for Friends‘  infectious ‘I’m His Girl’ track co-directed by by Aurora Halal and lead singer Samantha Urbani.

It’s the perfect companion piece boasting a good dose of retro flair thanks to some lo-fi camera work and 80′s transitions  and coming across equally as sassy, cool and confident as the track itself.

If you were at CMJ this week then you may have caught Brooklyn band at one of their numerous performances over the week. If you missed that there’s a bunch of upcoming US and UK dates for you to get your posterior shaking at.

I’ve had this on repeat for a bit and it never gets old. There is a possibility that next time you ask someone  ‘hey, have your heard that Friends track?‘ they won’t think you are referring to the sitcom’s theme tune.

TRACKS:

Friends – I’m His Girl

badge itunes lrg Weekend Videos: Friends   Im His Girl

doublecougar Weekend Videos: Friends   Im His Girl