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Downtown/Union shakes your brain with new EP Astral Turf

Downtown/Union

Gritty garage rockers with pop sensibilities, Downtown/Union just released their latest EP, Astral Turf, on 12" vinyl and digital download. They've been awesome enough to share two tracks for free on Sound Cloud.

The band has grown from their two-man roots in 2006 to a fully blossomed four piece reminiscent of acts like Dinosaur Jr and Piebald. Ernest and honest, their music conjures up images of suburban backyard parties with loud amps and plenty of beer. If you don't appreciate their stripped down, straight ballsy rock 'n' roll style, chances are you're deaf.

Catch Downtown/Union on Friday, August 27th @ The Echo for their record release party.

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What you missed at When You Awake’s Free For All Festival

- by Gabrielle Canon

Los Angeles Free For All festival

Music Festivals are as iconic to summer as popsicles and flip-flop tan lines. Those of us who are helpless music-worshippers are forced each season to succumb to our live-music addictions, needing to experience the bliss of feeling the bass thunder through our bones while we rub shoulders with sweaty strangers who are sharing these soon-to-be-made memories. Festivals satisfy our musical ADD afflictions by allowing us to capriciously cascade between several performances, in addition to the usual offering of endless other entertainment options. All of this comes at a price, however. This perfect summer scene would not be complete without forking out hard-earned wages, spending saved allowances, breaking piggy-banks, or stealing valuable coin collections. Throw in a lack of musical intimacy, cow-herding-like crowd control, and monopoly price-gouging on necessities like water, and you got yourself a typical festival!

This is why I was particularly intrigued by When You Awake’s “Free For All: A Hands-On Music Festival. Not only was admission based on “pay-what-you-can” donation, but festival patrons were encouraged to bring instruments and jam with performers! Little did I know, but I when I entered past the smiling greeter who un-obtrusively asked for donations, I was not about to write about some random music festival—I became an embedded participant observer of a musical revolution. Dramatic, I know, but after a spending a lifetime being subjected to the business models of the industry over-lords and confined to a dwindling bank-account that renders little opportunity for me to experience live-music as often I would like to, I simply can’t contain my excitement about this new model.

Los Angeles Free For All festival

Promoter Jody Orsborn emphasized that this festival was about breaking down barriers by creating a space where “it didn’t matter how old you were, if you had money in your pockets…this would be for everyone…and everyone could become creative as well.” The organizers of Free-For-All even fronted the costs to create this vision, complete with an arts and crafts station where festival-goers could rest their feet while creating masterpieces made from recycled materials and pre-school reminiscent art supplies. “To be able to be a kid and do art at a concert?—Pretty awesome,” commented festival-goer Sheila, who was visiting from Hawaii, while she affixed a feather to her creation.

By creating an environment that emphasizes music over money When You Awake’s festival generated a “feel-good” energy that emanated through the three stages at the Echoplex last weekend. Caitlin Doyle from The Dustbowl Revival, noticed the difference. “There is a unique energy, you don’t get when you pay,” she said about the experience. She explained that the audience comes in without expectations when they pay what they can, which “allows (them) to enjoy it more.” The crowd clearly was enjoying The Dustbowl Revival, a band out of Venice, CA that was tearing up the outdoor stage with big brass beats and whose nostalgic style instantly transports listeners to a different time and place that they never may want to leave. This band offers such a fun vibe that you just can’t help yourself—once you step into their musical time machine you will find your foot tapping. Before long, everyone was singing and dancing along. The band left the stage amidst pleas for encores. Inside, two rooms housed stages where local bands Old Man Markley and Active Child maintained this positive energy. They were followed by headliners Langhorne Slim and Akron/Family who inspired a sea of hands waving through the air and the throwing of cash on stage to support the cause. Between sets, bands joined the audience and played right in the middle of the crowd. Meanwhile, donation fairies meandered through the crowd hoping for contributions from compassionate concert-goers.

Jody admitted that this was an experiment, and I think I am one of many who hope to see more like it. Not everyone was pleased however, as there were several problems with the sound, prompting Nick, a local patron to deem the show “break-even fest,” adding that “spending money in the wrong places negates the point of a free festival.” Also, the vision of breaking down barriers between performer and audience by encouraging participation was hardly fulfilled. Miguel from Burbank told me, “I brought a drum, but I felt weird playing it,” and admitted that he took it back to his car. Perhaps it will take time for people to feel comfortable challenging their roles as observers, but in the mean time I say, Viva La Revolución! I can only hope this format sticks.

 

When You Awake's Free For All Festival

 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 




What you missed at When You Awake’s Free For All Festival

Los Angeles Free For All festival

Music Festivals are as iconic to summer as popsicles and flip-flop tan lines. Those of us who are helpless music-worshippers are forced each season to succumb to our live-music addictions, needing to experience the bliss of feeling the bass thunder through our bones while we rub shoulders with sweaty strangers who are sharing these soon-to-be-made memories. Festivals satisfy our musical ADD afflictions by allowing us to capriciously cascade between several performances, in addition to the usual offering of endless other entertainment options. All of this comes at a price, however. This perfect summer scene would not be complete without forking out hard-earned wages, spending saved allowances, breaking piggy-banks, or stealing valuable coin collections. Throw in a lack of musical intimacy, cow-herding-like crowd control, and monopoly price-gouging on necessities like water, and you got yourself a typical festival!

This is why I was particularly intrigued by When You Awake’s “Free For All: A Hands-On Music Festival. Not only was admission based on “pay-what-you-can” donation, but festival patrons were encouraged to bring instruments and jam with performers! Little did I know, but I when I entered past the smiling greeter who un-obtrusively asked for donations, I was not about to write about some random music festival—I became an embedded participant observer of a musical revolution. Dramatic, I know, but after a spending a lifetime being subjected to the business models of the industry over-lords and confined to a dwindling bank-account that renders little opportunity for me to experience live-music as often I would like to, I simply can’t contain my excitement about this new model.

[Read More]

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Pepper Rabbit signs to Kanine Records

Pepper Rabbit

Pop duo Pepper Rabbit just announced their deal with New York based Kanine Records and the release date of their forthcoming album, Beauregard, is set for October 26th.

Guitar and piano make their scheduled appearances, but these multi-instrumentalists incorporate banjos, ukuleles, trumpets, and woodwinds without blinking an eye. If Xander Singh and Luc Laurent's previous two EPs are any indication, the new album will usher in hand crafted melodies that are expansive and personal at the same time.

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Q&A with The Magnetic Fields

- by Angel Baker

Through wires and ethernet, The Deli had words with the cleverly sardonic Stephin Merritt, the brainchild of The Magnetic Fields.

The Deli: As what seemed like a die-hard New Yorker, you've recently come to the best coast. Are there two-yous in there and did one you want the Sunshine and Sea over rotting garbage and sewer rats?

SM: As for rats, I just found one in my attic, thank you very much, and neighbors keep putting rotting garbage into my stupid recycling bin. But that means I actually have my own attic (which is like a storage space, only right up the stairs), as well as six times the indoor space I have in my current Manhattan apartment. And, something the natives call a "yard," which I don't understand at all.

The Deli: Speaking of there being two yous, some of your songs come out scathing ("You must be out of your mind") and some are purely buoyant ("Let's pretend we're bunny rabbits"). Do love and hate arm wrestle for who gets to write the songs?

SM: As in Robert Mitchum's finger tattoos in Night of the Hunter? It probably just depends what song I happen to be hearing in the bar when I'm looking for a song idea. It's definitely not my mood at the time, and it would be terrible if I could only write songs expressing my mood at the time; most moods (excitement, despair, impatience, confusion, lovesickness…) would render me incapable of writing anything at all. Good songs are ambiguous in mood. And great songs are often downright baffling, like "Sally Go Round the Roses" and "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep," and "Greensleeves."

The Deli: You've described Outkast as innocuous party music for suburban teenagers. Do you have anything against a good time? What about Hootenanny!? That's definitely a good time.

SM: Note the word "innocuous." I'm not criticizing it at all. And I was a suburban teenager myself, with a car and everything. The only snag with party music is that you have to already be in the mood for it, or it's obnoxious and exhausting; just as you absolutely have to be in the right mood for Leonard Cohen, or Wagner. Otherwise you can't take them seriously. When I am in the mood for party music, I usually leave the house, but I do have in my record collection the Western Swing box set, and the Stax and Philly Sound box sets, and Hotter in Hawaii, all of which I heartily recommend. DJ’ing a real house party, I would generally start with the Fifth Dimension, because everyone on earth likes them, and then go either toward Cesaria Evora or the Troggs, depending on what kind of alcohol the guests have brought.

The Deli: Congrats for the recognition of your work on Coraline. Do you have more theatrical work in the wings?

SM: Thank you. Why yes, I'm developing two more plays at the moment, both based on original stories, which is much harder, don't you think? Adaptations are a breeze.

 

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