Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chvrches - “Leave A Trace” Lyric video + Pre-Order Link
Jesse Mullen

Scottish Synthpop trio Chvrches have announced their new album, Every Eye Open, and have shared a lyric video for the first single from it, “Leave A Trace.”
It begins with an Icy synth line, and a surprisingly harrowing vocal from Lauren Mayberry, before leading into its chorus, where Mayberry’s traditionally bell-clear, yet frosty voice comes in to play. Lyrically and tonally, I was given a stronger reminder of “Your Silent Face” by New Order from the Power Corruption and Lies album, which coincidentally has quite similar artwork.

Listen here for yourself here:

And Pre-order Every Eye Open, which comes out September 25th on Glassnote records, here:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Stream/Download Wilco’s new album,
Star Wars, For Free
Jesse Mullen


I can honestly say that I wasn't expecting much, when I heard that this album would be available free of charge. But I couldn't have been more wrong.

With Star Wars, Wilco have captured the steamy summer evenings of Yo La Tengo, the abstract guitar sounds of Sonic Youth, and the concise pop of latter-day Beatles. All while maintaining true to themselves. Nels Cline is given a chance to shine on the experimental "You Satellite" and the ripping "Random Noise Generator." I'm certain that this album will continue to untangle itself in my head in the coming days, but in the meantime, just sit back and enjoy. What have you got to lose, besides half an hour of your time?

 Listen here:

And Download, in exchange for an email, here:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

4Knots Festival 2015 Review (New York, NY)
Jesse Mullen

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have attended New York City's 4Knots Festival at Pier 84. Here are my short (from one sentence to a paragraph) recollections of the day's performers in the order that they appeared onstage, starting with Happyness, and culminating with Super Furry Animals. I did not include set times or setlists, but both should be easily accessible, and I will link them when they become available, in an amended version of this article marked as such.

Happyness - Versatile Noise Pop trio from London, their sound is in almost equal parts Sonic Youth and Pavement. (The first song reminded me of "The Empty Page," with it's riff and vocal melody being very similar to that song.)

Screaming Females - Marissa  Paternoster is still one of the greatest to ever shred the guitar. And this group is still one of the most engaging live acts you will see. A set filled with tracks from new album "Rose Mountain," an unexpected highlight was "It All Means Nothing" from their 2012 album Ugly.

Mikal Cronin - A nice expansion of the sounds we heard on MCII. The new songs on MCIII had an even more Ty Segall feel live. (Fitting considering he is the bass player for his live group)

Twin Peaks - At first their sound was too brutish for my taste. But they won me over with their tight playing in the end.

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks - excellent show. While Malkmus is obviously the star, these veterans sound incredible together, and every member is irreplaceable. A stunning, tear jerking version of "Freeze The Saints" was only given a lighter touch when Malkmus spoke up to Mike Clark during the piano interlude. "You're stepping on me, man. I love you, but you're stepping on my foot."
Ah, Malky. You never disappoint.

Super Furry Animals - stunning set, from the Cardiff group. The new found live effects show that they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Though the entire set was a spectacle to behold, things got especially intimate when Gruff Rhys requested that the audience wave to a ship that was passing by. Nearly everyone in attendance complied, and the act gave the spectators a communal feeling; we were no longer individuals. We were a part of something greater than ourselves. Thank you Gruff.
Penultimate track "Mountain People" was an obvious highlight, with an extended sequenced bass loop at the end, as well as “Run Christian, Run,” which was given a trance like status, with it’s lucid backing vocals from guitarist Huw Bunford. The classic "The Man Don't Give A Fuck" was jammed out to nearly fourteen minutes, with an enthusiastic response from the crowd.

*4Knots has been running for five years now. It was previously held for free at South Street Seaport in the financial district, but this was the first paid year of the festival.

**I arrived late and missed the first two acts. This review includes everything after those bands/artists

Happyness (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Screaming Females (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Mikal Cronin (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Twin Peaks (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks Pre-Set huddle (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)IMG_4209.JPG
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Super Furry Animals (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Super Furry Animals (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Super Furry Animals (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Super Furry Animals (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Super Furry Animals (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Super Furry Animals (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

“Mountain People” Super Furry Animals (Photograph © Jesse Mullen 2015)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

“We Can’t Be Silent No More.”
And The Kids Branch Out Live,
With New Bass Player In Tow
Jesse Mullen

And The Kids 06/12/15,Gateway City Arts Center, Holyoke, MA

When And The Kids played the Columbus theater, in Providence this March, I thought they were a good band with potential. When they performed at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke last night, I thought they were an impeccable band, who had realized that potential. Part of this can be credited to new bass player Taliana. Not content at merely holding down the low end, she also filled the role of a sort of hybrid between rhythm guitar, and traditional basslines, without merely getting by on walking lines, or dub-style, a true rarity in modern indie. This makes for an interesting dynamic between her and Hannah (Vox, Gtr.), and her and Rebecca (Drums, vox); she's woven in and out of Hannah's melodies, while locking in firmly with Rebecca's hi-hat-heavy sticksmanship. She is the glue between Hannah and Rebecca, that they've been missing since their estranged keyboardist Megan was deported last December.
They've found their Doug Yule. (Bassist who was abruptly added to the Velvets, and changed their entire group dynamic, in my opinion, for the better.) I sincerely hope that, upon Megan’s return, they become a quartet. They're too good with Taliana not to be.

They've also tightened up tremendously as a unit, while still allowing the songs to breathe, and take shape in the live environment. Even a "bicycle" stunt between Hannah and Tiliana towards the set's end couldn't slow them down. (They laid on their backs facing each other, and peddled against each other's feet, while finishing the song without missing a beat. Gary Young, the eccentric drummer from Pavement would proud.) Hannah and Taliana occasionally swapped vocals as well, with Hannah’s higher range being complemented nicely by Taliana’s slightly lower voice.

Rebecca, and Megan, who was there in spirit.

They played many of their signature songs (no pun intended) off of their long awaited debut from earlier in the year, including "Cats Were Born," and longtime fan favorite "Wiser," which had the entire crowd dancing in one big swaying motion. They always had chemistry, but the songs felt bigger than before in the live space, making me wish that they would record their next album in front of an audience. My one regret from this eye opening show, was that I had forgone any form of glitter cosmetics, before attending. An excellent performance by a now excellent band. And to think I once thought they were just "good."

“Makin’ money,but you make no sense..” Hannah and Taliana switch sides for the middle eight of "Wiser"

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

- Editorial -
Parquet Courts: How A Friend’s Dad Turned Me Onto New York’s Most Exciting Active Band, The Hard Way
Jesse Mullen

(Parquet Courts, from l-r: Austin Brown (gtr/vox), Sean Yeaton (bass/vox), Andrew Savage (gtr/vox), and 
Max Savage (Drums))

One day last September, (the 9th, to be precise) I arrived at the train station, like I always do at 9:20 AM, to leave for classes. I was approaching the staircase, when I heard a warm, but weary voice at the top. “Is that a Sleater-Kinney shirt?” a man asked. “I love Sleater-Kinney!” I recognized this voice Immediately. It was the father of a classmate of mine from High School, whom I had known since Kindergarten. To say that I was impressed that a 50something, in a tiny town knew who Sleater-Kinney were was an understatement. But that he enjoyed their abrasive and not always melodic music impressed me even more. We chatted for fifteen minutes about his Portland origins, and how Stephen Malkmus’s eponymous debut solo album is an underrated gem. Then our conversation took a different turn; New music we enjoyed. I can’t even remember what I said (most likely something trivial, with no lasting appeal.) But what he said interested me, from the moment it rolled off his tongue; Parquet Courts. Parquet Courts. The name fascinated me, despite the fact that “parquet” was not part of my semi-limited vernacular. I thought about it on the train ride, as my own headphones blared the new Thurston Moore album, The Best Day. I thought about it at B Natural, the market, where I get my daily cup of coffee, and the best in New Haven. I thought about it during Art History, and I thought about it in the imbeciles Math class that I attended that semester. (Not sure that I learned anything in either that day, If I’m being honest.) I thought about it as I took my 4:00 train home, and I thought about it as I climbed the stairs to my room, eagerly anticipating my next HDtracks purchase. Their newest record was titled Sunbathing Animal, and I thought this would be the best place to start. I imported the album to Winamp, put on my Sennheisers, and listened. It’s safe to say that I was not immediately amused, or converted. At first glance, they lacked melody, and played too fast for their own good, limiting the number of slow tracks to three. I put the album down, never to listen again. Or so I thought.

(Image courtesy of What's Your Rapture/WYR)

My next encounter with the band came unexpectedly on the 16th of November. I was in a coffee shop in Brooklyn, that was playing Animal in it’s entirety, and I walked in while “Black and White” was on, which is track number two. I was seeing Johnny Marr in a few hours, and had some time to kill before the show began. So I took my time, and in this setting, I enjoyed the band much more. Cut to many months later, in early May of this year, and a friend linked to “Stoned And Starving,” off of their second album, 2013’s Light Up Gold, on his blog. I was in love, and hastily scrambled to buy the record online. When it arrived two days later, I cleaned it with a carbon fiber brush, and slapped it on my turntable. And I listened with surgical focus. That’s when I realized my enjoyment of them last November was no fluke; I was a bona fide fan. A more straight-forward (albeit lower-fidelity) record than Animal, Light Up Gold is full of track after track of instant classics, making it seem more a perfectly sequenced “greatest hits” album, than a sophomore album. 

(Image courtesy of What's Your Rapture/WYR)


Re-listening to Sunbathing Animal, through headphones for the first time since September later that day, I enjoyed it immensely. What had at first sounded like mindless noodling to me, now sounded like great progress, and a terrific re-invention for their sound, though a challenging one at that. It is their “Difficult Third Album” after all. For once, (and only this once so far), my first impressions were wrong.

And to my friend’s music-loving father, I would like to say this;

Thank you for sharing your musical knowledge with me. You are eternally wiser than I.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Slowdive Fanzine article, "The Best Blue Day"

*The following piece is set to appear in Virginia Davila’s Holding Our Breath fanzine. All photos/artwork are by the author. It was written last October, in recap of Slowdive’s 2014/10/25 show at Terminal 5 in New York, NY. It is being posted on the internet for the first time, by the author. Under his original pseudonym, for your enjoyment. Enjoy!

“The Best Blue Day”
By Jestoon

(Image: “Sunshine Girl,” Copics on Bristol © 2014 Jesse Mullen)

Slowdive were simply amazing.
They performed both “Dagger” and “Rutti.” (The songs that they would normally switch out each night on the tour.)
“Dagger” was performed in a manner similar to the original electric 1992 demo, displaying the jaw dropping beauty and poetry of Halstead’s lyrics, which cast such a vivid image, that I based a drawing off of them. The crowd was a mix of New York hipsters, passionate shoegazers, and young fans who were enthralled with the wall of sound. (I met a 12 year old in the merch line, who was grinning ear to ear, and reminded me that the effect that sound has on a music worshipper is universal, no matter what age.)

Embarrassingly, I was not familiar with opener Low, although their set was a fascinating mix of shoegaze, dreampop, and post-rock. I’ll definitely be buying their records. The rest of the Slowdive set was filled with the usual staples, and some of the early EP tracks (If you're reading this, Neil, Rachel, Simon, Nick and Christian, please add “Shine” to your set. Thanks. x)
By the time they walked off, the clock on the wall at stage right read 10:30.
They closed their regular set with “Golden Hair” (“The shortest version we’ve ever done,” quipped Rachel. it still seemed plenty long to me, in my half-blazed state.)
They came back, and closed with “40 Days,” which Rachel said “Thanks very much,” and they walked off while a sample of it played on endless loop.
After the show, when I was about to leave in my car, it hit me that they might still be around. I went around the block to the back of the venue, and waited by their van for about 15 minutes. A small crowd had gathered, and a man that worked for Terminal 5 said “if they're not out by 11:30, call them out.” Could they be arriving soon? My body was shaking, and my heart was beating out of my chest. My blood turned to ice. Finally, two roadies came out with roadcases. And then I saw them. Neil was wearing a folded baseball cap, and smoking a cigarette of a brand I’m not familiar with. Rachel had put her hair up, and put on a golden jacket, apparently the one she had worn at Primavera Sound. She had a cigarette, but no lighter. Hers had dried up. By this point Neil had begun mingling with other fans, and was in no position to offer her a light. I hastily retrieved mine from my pocket, and introduced myself. She lit her cigarette, thanked me, and handed it back. I was in total awe. I’m keeping it forever. Next, I walked up to Neil. “Hey,” I said. Neil shook my hand. “Do you know when the Zurich record comes out?” “I don’t know,” he said, smiling, in his reassuringly calm, soft-spoken voice. “It may get a reissue someday.” I shakily pulled my notepad, my inkjet ticket with the coffee stain on it, and Pilot G2 out of my pocket and asked if he minded signing them. “Not at all,” he said warmly, Reading accent showing through. “Thanks.” I hastily gathered my thoughts. If I wanted to say something to him, now was my only chance. “Pygmalion came out the year I was born, so I missed you guys the first time around, and I’m really glad to have you back.” “Thank you.” “And I’m really glad you’re finally getting your due credit.” “Thank you. That’s very kind of you.” He seemed genuinely moved by the last part. I said goodnight to both of them, and walked away in tears, knowing that no concert experience would ever top it.