May 23 2013

SXSW 2013 Day 4 (Feat. Rustie, WHY?, Sarai Givaty, Simja Dujov and Sensual Harassment)

SXSW Cover image

This year we sent some of our finest writers to witness SXSW first hand and mingle. This could have been a tale of new friendships, drunken friendships, confiscated platinum passes, lost emails and missed deadlines. Oh, and there was also a lot of music…

sxsw street scene

Rustie | Latitude 30 (Showcasing Scotland)

The morning was characterised by us trying to squeeze in some interviews. We ended up accidentally walking past the British Music Embassy just as Scottish DJ Rustie was doing his thing.

With a delighted crowd indoors all bopping their heads in unison. It was even more impressive to see a group of kids, clearly no way old enough to be inside legally, crowding around one of the venues windows and joining in the head nodding craze.

A particular highlight was his remix offering of Kendrick Lamar‘s “Backseat Freestyle” earning the loudest cheer.

Why? live at SXSW

WHY? | Russian House (Wuwufest 2013)

My thirst for another WHY? show was only heightened after the previous nights hit-and-miss attempt.

While Yoni Wolf and co jokingly complained about the minuscule stage at Russian House I was secretly pleased with being able to get up close with a minimum of fuss. What’s sure is that with their new touring lineup WHY? are able to recreate some of the more subtle moments on their latest “Mumps, etc” opus.

Sarai Givaty live at SXSW

Sarai Givaty | Creekside At Hilton Garden Inn

Our next stop was at Creekside at The Hilton Garden Inn where model/actress Sarai Givaty was showcasing her newest material.

In her native Israel she is usually backed by a full band but she arrived in Austin with just her guitarist in tow in what proved to be a spark of genius. The duo’s sparse instrumentation and shared percussion duties lended a degree of fragility to her tracks, pierced only by the crowd’s applause, bringing her delicate vocals to the forefront.

Simja Dujov live at SXSW

Simja Dujov – Takoba (ROI Unplugged)

Over at the Takoba venue we caught Argentinian maverick Simja Dujov deliver his infectious blend of gypsy, cumbia and latin music.

Having been dubbed “the South American Manu Chao” would be an honour for many musicians but in Dujov‘s case I felt it is slightly restrictive as his music takes on so many carried elements. The one constant throughout are the upbeat chord progressions and instantly memorable melodies sung in Spanish, English and even Yiddish.

Besides his Dali-esque moustache, which won him an award at SXSW, Simja Dujov knows how to put on a good party and connect with his audiences which is why he’s constantly on the road playing wherever and whenever. Don’t be surprised if you catch him near you, wherever you are, next.

Sensual Harassment live at SXSW

Sensual Harassment | Rusty’s (Deli Un/Off party)

Having featured Sensual Harassment on these pages in the past and with their latest EP ‘Escape From Alpha Draconis’ proving very popular at Cougar HQ i was eager to catch the band live.

We descended on Rusty‘s not quite knowing what to expect from the Brooklynites but far from disappointed. While the deceitfully catchy melodies lulled me into a false sense of security the hard-hitting rhythm section guaranteed that there wasn’t a dull moment.

The trio successfully blend elements of disco pop and 80’s new wave aesthetics into their own unique thing forcing even the biggest cynic to just dance.



May 23 2013

SXSW 2013 Day 3 (Feat. Dorine Levy, Tom Odell, WHY?, Toro y Moi, Divine Fits and The Crystal Method)

Line for iggy

This year we sent some of our finest writers to witness SXSW first hand and mingle. This could have been a tale of new friendships, drunken friendships, confiscated platinum passes, lost emails and missed deadlines. Oh, and there was also a lot of music…

Dorine Levy live at SXSW

Dorine Levy | Dogwoods

We gathered ourselves up following another big night with a hearty breakfast before heading to Dogwoods to catch promising Canadian/Israeli songstress Dorine Levy.

Her sample rich tracks were the perfect tonic for a hangover offering delightful grooves and sweet melodies in equal measures. Flanked by her percussionist husband and some carefully planted keyboard lines Dorine‘s electro pop channels a a more optimistic Lykke Li or a more intense Grimes. Whatever it is, it is impressive.

Tom_ODell live at SXSW

Tom Odell | Hotel San Jose (South By San Jose)

It wouldn’t be South By, if an early afternoon lunch break didn’t include accidentally encountering a Tom Odell performing his breakout hit “Another Love” at this outdoor marketplace.

Why emo's  live at SXSW

WHY? | Emo’s East (I Heart Comics Party)

Pedicab drivers scoffed when we asked them to take us to Emo’s new location, saying they’d do it for a hundred bucks, but nothing less.

Turns out it was a legit cab ride away, and though we only caught half the performance after waiting in line, WHY? shined performing in a venue with real capacity.

Toro Y Moi live at SXSW

Toro y Moi | Lustre Pearl (FILTER + Dickies Party)

After trying to catch Alt-J  back downtown, where two hours before showtime the line was wrapped around the block, there were several options for how the night could play out – any one of them good.

The Rainey St. district became a low-key favorite and Toro y Moi’s chill, disco vibes felt like a winning combination. The set was well-received overall, but something felt amiss in the performance and crowd interaction possibly related to the crazy herb that was making it’s way round the tent. They closed the set with “Say That” and everyone was left satisfied.

DivineFits live at SXSW

Divine Fits | Lustre Pearl (FILTER + Dickies Party)

Two nights in a row and totally worth it. This set by Divine Fits blew the previous nights out of the water. A true exercise in musicianship, flexing songs in ways not heard on the album, this show came to life and took a running for best of SXSW.

The Crystal Method live at SXSW

The Crystal Method | Haven Lounge {Casio Party}

Recovered from the near-death of one our team’s badges, and rallied hard with VIP, bottle-service at The Crystal Method. Chilling side stage on couches while pioneers in electro, spin to a dance-ready crowd – this is South By at it’s finest while geezers walked away with brand new Casio keyboards.


Feb 19 2013

Cougar Microbes Writer Picks 2012: Thom


Cougar writer Thom offers his top ten albums for our Top albums of 2012 feature.

Chairlift - Something

Chairlift -‘Something

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.

WHY? -'Mumps, ETC'

WHY? -‘Mumps, ETC

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.

Passion Pit Gossamer

Passion Pit – ‘Gossamer

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.

Django Django - Django Django

Django Django -‘Django Django

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2012: Jack White - Blunderpuss

Jack White – ‘Blunderpuss

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.

Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors -‘Swing Lo Magellan

Maps & Atlases - Beware and be Grateful

Maps & Atalases -‘Beware and be Grateful

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.

 Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2012: the XX – Coexist

The XX – ‘Coexist

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.

Polica - Give You The Ghost

Poliça -‘Give You the Ghost

Hot Chip - In Our Heads

Hot Chip – ‘In Our Heads

Included in the Cougar Microbes albums of 2012 here.




Jan 12 2013

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2012: WHY? – Mumps, Etc


With their baroque/indie/folk leanings and sardonic rap-like witticism is safe to say WHY? are an oddity in today’s musical landscape. The much awaited ‘Mumps, Etc is a first outing since the delicate instrumentations of 2009’s excellent  ‘Eskimo Snow.

While that album remains an absolute pleasure it did signal a slight detour from the sound we had associated with the Californian 3 piece right from their debut. WHY? have definitely not sacrificed their new found pop sensibilities yet  ‘Mumps, Etc‘ displays enough bite to be considered a kindred spirit to their 2008 breakout album ‘Alopecia.

Thom included them in his top-10 explaining “Sometimes words can carry a track on their own and Yoni Wolf‘s lyrics are the sociological poetry of every thoughtful and intelligent down and out. But this record obviously isn’t a poetry reading and WHY?‘s musicianship on ‘Mumps, Etc.‘ is still as exciting, genre-twisting and gritty as their diamond in the rough debut ‘Oaklandazulasylum‘ way back in 2003“.



Mumps, Etc. - Why


Dec 21 2012

WHY? ‘Mumps, Etc.’ reviewed

WHY? are an exultation of larks being shot down with a shotgun. Beautiful melodies, being trounced upon with irresistable beats and soulful yet dirty words.

WHY? are a band that I think it is impossible to be bored with. Possibly one of the most underrated bands out there. A curious mix of analogue and electronic instruments mixed with punchy and catchy bass parts and of course frontman Yoni Wolf‘s inspired, confessional and sociological genius.

Mumps, Etc.‘ is the follow up to 2009’s excellent ‘Eskimo Snow. It fuses the best bits from that album’s folk inspired rap and the grit and darkness from the band’s previous gem album ‘Alopecia‘. Potentially this is the three piece’s most self aware and confessional album with Wolf taking on everything from the misfortune of being thirty plus, being in a touring band and male pattern balding (you read that right)

tracks such as “Paper Hearts“, “Waterlines” and “Bitter Thoughts” convey  how extremely accomplished the band are as musicians writing inspired classical, folk and world music pieces that are accompanied by slow or upbeat pop rhythms that they have reigned in so well, you wondered how this was unique blend was never really thought of before.

I would go as far as to say that the song “Sod In The Seed” has the greatest and most challenging, thought provoking lyrics of any other WHY? song and covers more ground than most other band’s songs do anyway. The wordplay has become so busy in time signature and tight in delivery, lines like “Who am I to judge a mans heart by his yacht wear?” prove Yoni‘s observant and thoughtful style but blast out like a smack in the face to sober you up from your useless daydreaming.

Strawberries” starts like a 1950’s doo-wop song but comes to life in a way that only indie cacophony that is a WHY? song can with swooping xylophone melodies and anthemic lo-fi drum and bass parts and anti-rock star sentiment. Yet again thought it is the lyrics that shine through as utterly original and sound like they would look as beautiful in a bound book – “Itching like an intern with a sunburn, for what a stone unturned covers, I don’t wear rubbers and I don’t werar sunscreen,I want to heat my hide not hide under something“.

I’ll leave you with the line that I couldn’t decipher but sounds just a good without knowing: “From the backs of tent flyers in pen, the guilt-racked liar pretends to confess.

More band’s should take risks like WHY?


Post by TR Wicks



Mumps, Etc. - Why


Sep 23 2011

WHY? announce ‘Acoustic Piano’ UK dates for October

Cougar favourites WHY? Are returning to England with some special dates planned for October. The multi-talented trio have announced a set of unplugged and personal shows and have handpicked some intimate and warm venues this time round.

Expect to hear all the classics from “Oaklandazulasylum” and “Elephant Eyelash“, “Alopecia” and “Eskimo Snow” as well as a first taste of the yet to be titled fifth album In what will be the band’s only UK performances this year.

Here are the dates for the shows presented by One Inch Badge and Tidal Shift Concerts:

– 23 Oct – Colston Hall 2, Bristol (Grade II listed building and fully functioning gig venue)

– 24 Oct – Union Chapel, London (Grade II listed building, a working church and sublime sounding venue for live music)

– 25 Oct – Duke Of Yorks Picturehouse, Brighton (the oldest functioning cinema in the country)

Anyone who has seen Yoni Wolf and co. live will tell you this is going to be a special one!!


WHY? – These Hands

WHY? – January Twenty Something


Jun 23 2011

Amp Live reworks Tyler with a jazz twist

I have been meaning to write about Tyler, The Creator and the whole Odd Future phenomenon for a while. Originally I was planning to feature ‘Yonkers‘ as part of our Weekend Videos feature but by the time I got to see the video it had already racked 6 million hits.

Surely there weren’t that many more people still left I thought and I was wrong because the video now stands at over double that somewhere in the region of 13 million hits. Not bad for an LA skater kid with a questionable attitude.

You may be familiar with Amp Live for his reworking of some of the best moments from Radiohead‘s ‘In Rainbows‘ album. Personally I completely loved him for the work done on Cougar favourites WHY? and their catalogue.

In any case he has gone and joined forces with Jazz Mafia to recreate these interesting re-runs from Goblin‘. I had been wondering how long it would take before some decent remixes from would pop out, I just didn’t expect something like this to be made.


Tyler, The Creator

May 14 2010

Cougar Microbes DJ’s at “The Library” 21st of May

Hands Up Who Cares , our monthly club night, is back next friday (21st of May) at The Library in Islington.

We’ll be spinning tunes by Crystal Castles, TV on the Radio, WHY?, Foals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Two Door Cinema Club, The XX and loads more Cougar favourites.

Entry is free to everybody registered as ‘attending’ on the Facebook event page and £1 to all others.  Hope to see you there!

For more details please drop by here.


Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – As We Enter (Tinie Tempah Remix)

Nas & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley

Bloc Party -Hunting For Witches (RAC Mix)

Bloc Party

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeasayer – Ambling Alp