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Indie Rock

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Bryce Dessner of The National Plays San Francisco Symphony’s FREE Outdoor Concert - 7/12

We’ve learned that the Bay Area has the unique opportunity to hear composer, Bryce Dessner (of the Brookyln based indie rock band, The National) perform his orchestral composition, St. Carolyn by the Sea (for orchestra and two electric guitars) at Pier 27 on the Embarcadero from 12-2 pm.

The event is hosted by the San Francisco Symphony and it’s going to be cool to see the city get a little bit of postmodern classical music whiffing and whirling through the air! Not a lot of people know that Bryce Dessner is a classically-trained musician and he’s written a lot of orchestral/classical pieces. 

You can take your friends and family to this event...and this is probably the best cheap date opportunity of the year!

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We Danced the Night Away with Ezra Bell, The Bevelers and Fanno Creek

Music like the music that Ezra Bell makes is living proof that not all musicians need to hide behind heavy effects: fuzz, distortion, reverb, and even auto-tune to make music that people really enjoy listening to, and that was very apparent at their EP release last Wednesday. They played alongside the Bevelers and Fanno Creek, gracing Mississippi Studios with some deeply beautiful, danceable and heartfelt tunes.

The Bevelers played first as the crowd filtered in, and although the two-piece group has a soft demeanor, it was impossible not to pay attention. The foundation of their whole set is their two beautiful voices creating harmonies so sad and lovely at the same time that you want to get lost in the world that their voices create.

Ezra Bell played second in the evening when attendance was at its peak, kicking off their set with a few familiar songs. Ezra Bell is such a complex machinery of humans and instruments and it seems like having 7 people on stage, something shouldn’t work about their set-up. But everything works. Their music is complicated yet not cacophonous, focusing more on interesting sound pairings than everyone fighting for focus. Even the bass and drums took turns being the lead rhythmic force of a song, which felt uncommon, but was just one of many facets of their music that sets them apart from other folk-pop bands around Portland and beyond.

The audience at Mississippi Studios was stoked to see them, cheering loudly between songs and singing along with their older music, which sounds every bit as tight as their recordings. It’s rare that a local band can get an entire audience to dance along rather than stand stoically, arms crossed, but it’s really hard not to dance when you listen to them.

Fanno Creek ended the night with a surfier, and less folk influenced set by comparison. Ezra Bell was the ideal middle point between Fanno Creek and the Bevelers because unlike the previous bands, Fanno Creek is heavier and more bluesy. They were the perfect choice to end the night though, because, despite a big chunk of the audience leaving, those who stayed were ready to dance and Fanno Creek is dance-y as hell.

Together, all three bands were a match made in lineup heaven, giving the crowd a solid range of folk and pop music to groove along to all night long. You can check out Ezra Bell’s new EP, We Came by Canoe here:

- Photos and story by Sarah Eaton

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Random Show Review: Ruby Rose Fox @ the ICA

This past Friday, Ruby Rose Fox made a rare solo appearance as part of the First Fridays programming at the ICA in Boston. Despite being without her band and back-up singers, Ruby did what Ruby does best: put on a beautifully-captivating vocal performance. While most of the sold-out crowd was there to mingle and catch-up with friends, as soon as Ruby started singing, many in the crowd immediately focused their attention on the singer. Bookended by two emotionally-charged renditions of "Golden Boy", her set revealed that many of her songs are much more melancholoy than her full-band sets make them sound--a fact of which she was also aware. "These songs are kind of depressing for party music", she quipped, shortly after the start of the show. Nevertheless, every time I see Ruby Rose live I'm always left wondering how it's even possible that someone's voice can sound as good as hers. This might all sound like fan-boy gushing, but go see one of her shows and try to dispute me. 

For more information about Ruby Rose Fox and her band, check out their PledgeMusic campaign to raise funds for their first full-length album. 

-Dan McMahon (@dmcmhn)
Photo credit: @lystenboston

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A long distance music affair: Georgetown U/Oklahoma City bedroom band Husbands record and release their first album, "Golden Year"

Husbands is a dreamy bedroom-pop duo made up of two married guys (though not to each other) Wil Norton and Danny Davis. They met at undergrad in Oklahoma City while Norton was playing in instrumental prog-rock band "The Non" and Davis was recording songs with Beach Boys inspired vocal harmonies. The two started a project that would later succeed in transcending state boundaries when Norton moved to DC to attend Georgetown for an MA in Literature. Not only has the band's production survived, but flourished! On July 2nd they released their first full, 8 track album, "Golden Year". They've noted that this particular record was made with the intention of playing live shows, which for the duo meant less experimenting with Animal Collective reminesent sampling, but also gaining the discipline necessary for writing tighter, catchier tunes. We're excited to hear their future work, which will without doubt further perfect combining both of these songwriting methods. Golden Year melts seamlessly with warm and drowned guitars, sad surfy vocals, bright synths and samples, and hip shaking percussion. These songs derive strength from the duo's ability to add layer over layer (sent over dropbox) without overdoing it and washing out the core of the song. Give the lyrics a look-see when listening, there are some real gems. Husbands is proud, excited, and fast at work on their next two albums already. So go to Bandcamp, enjoy your new summer jams! We'll likely have some more good news from Husbands in time for fall or winter.

- Leora Mandel

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Big Frasier @ Declaration Muse: An Indie Canuck Bash

It's a gorgeous day in Southern Ontario. So what better way to enjoy then to listen to some new tuneage. Big Frasier is a 4 piece rock outfit based in Toronto. They released their latest album "Tussle" in July 2014. I jammed out to "Love is a Paperback" first. It's a pretty greasy blues based tune. Solid rhythm laying the foundation for some slippery guitar licks over top. I particularly liked the line about "woman is a danger cat"....paying homage to one of my idol's Dean Murdoch. So clearly Big Frasier knows how to giver and probably shotguns Pilsners on the reg. There's definitely some Black Keys/White Stripes influence except they have a bass player. So it's pretty bad ass to say the least. They'll be playing Porcelain Records in Hamilton on Saturday July 4th so I suggest you go get good n' sloppy.- Kris "Big City" Gies

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