Cat on the Wall MixTape: Summer Bliss

(photo: Ian Lewis)

Put together a guest mixtape called Summer Bliss for my friends over at the UK based webzine Cat on the Wall.  It features tracks by several artists that have been written/posted about on this site, including the rad ladies from Las Robertas (our interview with them here), Toro y Moi, Gauntlet Hair, Real Estate, Best Coast, Harlem (album review), and Long Island’s own Twin Sister.   You can check it out at Cat on the Wall’s awesome site by clicking here and following the link.  Enjoy your weekend.

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Tropic Fuzz: An Interview With Las Robertas

(photo: Zuleira Ch)

Las Robertas are a rock band from San Jose, Costa Rica.  They play hazy lo-fi pop tunes with a blend of wailing guitars, heart pounding drums, and echoing vocals.  This band consists of four ladies named Meche (Guitar/Vocals), Lola (Vocals/Pandereta), Monse (Bass/Vocals), and Ana María (Drums).  With a style that could easily be mistaken for coming from Southern California or Brooklyn, Las Robertas are proof that music is truly universal and you can never be too sure of what’s blasting from speakers in a tropical city and sparking inspiration inside aspiring young artists.

I recently caught wind of Las Robertas and quickly grabbed a copy of their stellar debut record Cry Out Loud.  There was little information available about this band, so I contacted them in an attempt to get the scoop on what’s going on with them down in Costa Rica.  They were happy to answer some questions for us and talked about their inspiration, finding themselves outsiders among local bands, and being excited about the future.

– Tell us a little bit about how you met each other, and started Las Robertas?

Monse and Meche met through MySpace a long time ago…they liked similar stuff (Isobel Campbell and 60’s New Wave among others), then early 2009 they met up with Lola and decided to start practicing and making songs.  Meche used to know Ana M. from school, they both go to the same one, it’s a design-arts specialized university.  So approximately 2 months after starting to play, Ana M. joined.  Since then, we all became great friends, we’re always hanging out together, also with our manager M. Hortensia.

– What has influenced your music and personal styles?

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Ablum Review: Harlem – Hippies

It’s as if someone asked the band Harlem if there’s a limit to how many pop songs you can fit on one indie album without it becoming cheesy or commercial, and they responded with Hippies as a resounding “no”.  On the Austin trio’s Matador debut they supply sixteen songs that sound as if Buddy Holly went outside and rolled around in the mud before taking stage.  Hippies is packed with quick, dirty classic pop tunes; a style which allows Harlem to pull off being catchy without entering Top 40 rock radio territory.

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Viva Italia! An Interview with Ofelia Dorme

Someone unexposed to Italy may only think of scenes from The Godfather and music from an Opera as reference, but anyone who steps foot on Italian soil could find rock bands break out original material and Kinks covers like it’s nobody’s business (have witnessed this first-hand).  However, Ofelia Dorme could come as a pleasant surprise to anyone.  The Bologna based rock band has a minimalist style combined with a depth of sounds entrenched in prog rock.  Lead singer Francesca Bono delivers concise vocals with cunning precision over moody soundscapes that rise and fall like audio recorded inside a stormy dream.  Instead of imitating music imported from abroad, Ofelia Dorme aims to create their own export.  They have a self-released EP titled Sometimes It’s Better To Wait, recently played gigs in the UK, and have several more European shows lined up.  When put in contact with Ofelia Dorme I was immediately interested in finding out what’s happening behind the scenes because of their home country, ambition, and most importantly the music.

Q: Tell us a little about how you all met, and decided to start the band Ofelia Dorme?

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Album Review: The Morning Benders – Big Echo

The Morning Benders sophomore release, Big Echo, is a tapestry of well composed, wistful baroque-pop that lightly balances somewhere between the feelings of nostalgia and regret.  Reminiscent of  the moments in life you reflect back on, undecided if you truly regret them now, but are positive that you wouldn’t live them different if you had the chance.

Big Echo contains traces of the orchestral peaks and valleys of producer Chris Taylor’s band Grizzly Bear, but The Morning Benders stand on their own feet and put a subtle yet effective sun soaked spin on a style Taylor seems to have become a master at producing.  Continue reading

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Interview: Korey Dane

(photo by: Zach Corbin)

Korey Dane hail from Long Beach, California and play an infectious blend of acoustic driven songs with powerful vocals and engaging lyrics.  They have a familiar, classic feel, yet are refreshingly new.  Think of it like you poured yourself a drink and dusted off an old 45 to find a lost record nobody has heard before.  Led by singer/songwriter Korey Dane, this six-piece band also includes the charming voice of Tess Shapiro, Alex Medina, John Garbutt, Tyler Juarez, and David Beltran.  Korey and Tess are both great vocalists who combine so naturally that it’s hard to ignore their obvious chemistry.  Korey also has a real knack for songwriting, reminiscent of some artists who wouldn’t be fair to mention because he could give them a run for their money.  Last year they independently released the album For the Kite Flyers and have been steadily gaining a following.  We contacted Korey to ask him a few questions and he was happy to answer them.  Among other topics we discussed their music, what’s in store for the future, and he recommended some cool things to listen, watch, and read.

Q: Korey, how long have you been making music and what influenced you to pick up a guitar for the first time, then eventually start a band?

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Album Review: Broken Bells

Calling Broken Bells a side-project would be inaccurate.  Side-projects usually consist of a band member with a desire to create music in their singular vision, going off and finding other musicians outside their band to play it with. Consisting of Shins front man James Mercer and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse), it would be more precise to term Broken Bells a collaboration.  Multi-instrumentalist Burton lays down the beats over which Mercer provides his vocals and guitar.  Together they deliver an album of smooth and seemingly effortless tracks; perfect for both cruising in the car on a summer afternoon or keeping a party going early in the morning. Continue reading

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