May 22, 2012

Streaming: Sigur Rós - Valtari

Sigur Rós will release their upcoming album, Valtari, on May 29th. Until it drops, you can stream the gloriously epic album in its entirety, thanks to NPR. This album, their first in four years, is a solid addition to their discography, featuring Jónsi's trademark falsetto and slowly growing, monolithic arrangements. Any thoughts?

Stream Valtari here.

Guide To Sasquatch: Festival Ins and Outs

For all those Sasquatch rookies out there, here's a little info about the fest, where to be, and what to avoid.

The Acoustic Tent

Last year, one of my favorite surprises was the Acoustic Tent, situated right in the middle of the festival grounds. Simply by scanning a bar code with your smart phone and entering your e-mail address, you can win access to the tent for the whole day. Many bands, before they perform their full sets, stop by the tent to play for 15 minutes or so to about a hundred lucky fans. Last year, I was able to catch intimate shows from The Decemberists, Givers, Foster The People, Flogging Molly and Fitz and the Tantrums. Keep an eye out this year for how to gain entry. It's well worth your while.

The Walk

For Sasquatch first-timers, keep something in mind. If your favorite band is playing at 1:30, don't leave you tent at 1:25. The walk, from the average camping site into the festival, can take up to 20 minutes in crowds. And that won't be a happy 20 minutes if you miss bands you want to see. Just by entering the festival early last year, you might be surprised by some bands you don't know yet, and you have a greater chance of getting in the prized acoustic tent.

The Stages:

Sasquatch Stage

The Sasquatch Stage, of course, is where the big guys play. Sasquatch has a unique feature here though: the view. While watching any group perform at this stage, you will have the pleasure of seeing the beautiful Columbia River in the background. If you're tired, I recommend setting down a blanket on one of the amphitheater's grassy ledges and camping out to watch great act after great act. For those of you who need to be close to the stage, luckily, the main stage at Sasquatch due to its size and layout, is very easily accessible. It is often very easy to get a great spot for some awesome bands.

Bigfoot Stage

The Bigfoot Stage is the second largest stage at The Gorge, and this year, will host The Roots, Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, Tune-Yards, Alabama Shakes, and many more. Situated right near the entrance to the fest, Bigfoot is a great place to catch a glimpse of an act you're unfamiliar with on your way in or out of the grounds.

Yeti Stage

The Yeti Stage is the smallest stage at the festival, which means it is a great place to go if you want a great view of some of the smaller bands on the bill. This year, Dry The River, Honeyhoney, Hey Rosetta!, Said The Whale, and many more will grace this little stage with their presence. 

Banana Shack

The Banana Shack is a large tented stage that is reserved for electronic acts and comedy. The innovative lighting rigs always make it a perfect place to dance the night away. This year, Portlandia, James Murphy, Nero, Wolfgang Gartner, Beats Antique, Apparat, and more will pay a visit to the Shack. 

The "Maine" Stage

This stage is brand new this year. The sole purpose of the "Maine" Stage is to get young Northwest hip-hop artists attention. With Seattle hip-hop getting lots of attention these days thanks to artists like Blue Scholars and Macklemore, dozens of other artists are waiting in the wings. The Physics, Sol, Scribes, Grynch, and other locals will hoping to build some buzz after their performance at The Gorge.

Most importantly, relax, have fun, and enjoy all the great things Sasquatch has to offer.

Austin City Limits Lineup Announced

Austin City Limits has just announced their lineup for 2012. The festival will take place at Zilker Park from October 12-14. Headlining the festival are Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and The Black Keys. Also playing the fest will be Jack White, Florence + The Machine, The Avett Brothers, Avicii, Bassnectar, The Roots, The Shins, The Civil Wars, M83, Childish Gambino, Andrew Bird, Delta Spirit, Alabama Shakes, M. Ward, Big Gigantic, Michael Kiwanuka, Ben Howard, The Lumineers, First Aid Kit, Dry The River, and many many more.

See the complete lineup here.

May 21, 2012

Guide To Sasquatch: Set-Time Conflicts and What To Do

One of the biggest drawbacks of any large festival is that it is impossible to see all the acts. This year, Sasquatch, with five stages including the new "Maine" Stage, has its fair share of difficult conflicts. Here are some of the most cringe-worthy examples and a little help choosing where to go.

Yellow Ostrich vs. HoneyHoney

Our Pick: Either group will be a fantastic kick-off to the weekend. Having seen Yellow Ostrich a few times, I will be at the Yeti Stage with HoneyHoney. If you haven't seen either one, Yellow Ostrich wins by a hair.

Girl Talk vs. Explosions In The Sky vs. Beats Antique

Our Pick: This choice completely depends on how you want to dance. Each of these acts are likely to put you in some sort of trance. Girl Talk will keep you dancing your ass off all night, Explosions in the Sky will wow you with their epic post-rock glory, and Beats Antique will amaze you with their exotic electro-world beats. We say catch the beginning of Girl Talk, then hop on over to Beats Antique if you want to keep dancing, or Explosions in the Sky if you're ready to wind down.

The Civil Wars vs. Alabama Shakes vs. Portlandia

Our Pick: This is a tough one. Considering it is primarily a music festival, I would suggest either The Civil Wars of Alabama Shakes. Having seen The Civil Wars twice, I will be watching the Shakes, but either way, you are guaranteed to be blown away. There's really no wrong choice here.

Kurt Vile vs. Dry The River vs. Sol

Our Pick: If you are a fan of soul-rap: Sol. If you want to hear a British group's take on folk with hardcore influences: Dry The River. If you do not fit in the first two categories: Kurt Vile

Hey Marseilles vs. Greylag

Our Pick: Hey Marseilles. It's a bummer to miss Greylag, but Hey Marseilles, with their huge orchestral sound are sure to be a hit. Also, their slot at noon on Sunday gives fans a chance to see them away from the evening crowds.

Bon Iver vs. James Murphy

Our Pick: Bon Iver. Do we really need to explain? James Murphy may be an icon, but he will still be up on stage turning knobs. We suggest laying down on the lawn, staring up at the night sky, and letting Justin Vernon's falsetto sweeten your Sunday evening.

Beck vs. Mogwai vs. Nero

Our Pick: Some of everything. Luckily, Mogwai and Nero both begin their sets half an hour before Beck's. Mogwai have announced that this tour will be their last before an extended hiatus, so if you're a fan, this may be your last chance to see the Scottish crew for a while. Nero is likely to pack the Banana Shack more than anyone this weekend, and with good reason. We recommend catching the beginning of either Mogwai or Nero, heading over to Beck for a while, and if it is not to your liking, you have two great shows to go back to!

Check out Part 4 here!

May 20, 2012

Two Trees - "Your Woods"

Sweden has always exported excellent music. From The Knife, to The Radio Dept., to First Aid Kit, the Scandinavian country has given us some of the most exciting sounds from overseas. The next sound to head this way comes from Two Trees, a folk duo based in Stockholm. This past week they put up the song "Your Woods" on their SoundCloud page. The relaxing tune, composed of sparse guitar picking and beautiful male/female harmonies, is a gem. The guitar melody is fantastically simple, and provides just the right backing for the lyrics about losing your words when near those you love. Keep an eye out for these two.

May 19, 2012

Portland Cello Project - "Ninjas In Paris"

Portland Cello Project recently released Homage, an album of hip-hop covers arranged for the cello. Personally, I think their music is much more enjoyable live, as this video demonstrates. In this clip, the group performs "Ninjas In Paris," their rendition of Jay-Z and Kanye West's "N****s in Paris." Unlike the rap duo, they only play this song once per concert. Enjoy!

May 18, 2012

Guide To Sasquatch: Bands To Know

While hopefully most of you have heard of the excellent groups headlining the festival this year, there are dozens of great acts lower on the poster too! We've put together a list of some groups that deserve serious attention before the fest. Who knows, they may become your new favorites!

Alabama Shakes

Few bands in recent memory have generated as much buzz as Alabama Shakes. The soul-rock group has stunned audiences at SXSW and CMJ with their powerful genre-blending, and Brittany Howard, one of the strongest frontwomen in music today. Keep an eye out for their huge foot-stomping sound. 

Alabama Shakes-"Hold On"
Said The Whale

Based in Vancouver, BC, Said The Whale will be pretty close to home when they visit The Gorge. With their latest album, Little Mountain, the rockers combined powerful choruses with strong harmonies, and bring to mind Manchester Orchestra (if they sang about nature more). After winning the hearts of Canadians and a Juno Award last year, America is next.

Said The Whale-"Camilo (The Magician)"
Hey Rosetta!

Another Canadian group, Hey Rosetta! have a rough, yet beautiful sound. Their latest album, Seeds, blends rock, pop, and folk, while keeping memorable melodies and fantastic songwriting. Incorporating violin and cello into their sound, the band's work makes for a unique blend that I expect to translate very well on stage.

Hey Rosetta!-"Seeds"
Yellow Ostrich

Yellow Ostrich, a trio from Wisconsin, is most definitely a Write To The Beat favorite. Frontman Alex Schaaf experiments with vocal looping to give the small group a huge sound. After their debut album, The Mistress, gained them an underground following, they followed it up with Strange Land, a disc that fleshed out their sound without compromising the charm and excitement captured on all their music. Supported by fantastic drummer Michael Tapper, the band shows no sign of slowing down. On stage, they are even better, and witnessing Schaaf's vocal looping live makes it even more exciting.

Yellow Ostrich-"Marathon Runner"
Hey Marseilles

Hey Marseilles call themselves folkestral (folk + orchestral), and that short description couldn't be more accurate. The Seattle-based folk group incorporates strings, horns, and a large sound into their French-inspired tunes. Behind the tender voice of Matt Bishop, the instrumentation is inventive and fantastic. The group is touring behind To Travels & Trunks, a collection of some of the most exciting folk music around. I wouldn't be surprised if the group also gives us a peek at a rumored upcoming album!

Hey Marseilles-"To Travels & Trunks"
Dry The River

With an opening slot on Bowerbirds' latest tour, and the brand new album, Shallow Bed, Dry The River has been storming the US with their British take on folk music. Inspired by hardcore bands as well, their live show may be surprisingly loud for a group that sounds so soft on record. But where they shine is where they open up, getting loud while maintaining their folk roots. 

Dry The River-"History Book"
The Physics, Sol, and Scribes
While the "Maine" Stage lineup is filled with local up-and-coming hip-hop acts, The Physics, Sol, and Scribes stand out as the strongest artists on that bill.

The Physics produce a unique blend of soul, R&B, and rap, making their music lively, and always fun.

The Physics-"After Effect (feat. Grynch)"

Sol is a soul-rapper who's smoke-inspired rhymes has a clever, poppy, and smooth flow

Sol-"Not The One"

Scribes is another up-and-comer who has garnered attention with his melodic, driving beats that lay underneath heartfelt, sharp rhymes.

Scribes-"Pass You By"

Check out Part 3 here!