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Album Review: Boy Eats Drum Machine, "Hoop + Wire"

 

 It’s been two years since we last heard from Jon Ragel, but boy was it worth the wait. The multi-instrumentalist’s one-man band, Boy Eats Drum Machine, released its fifth album (second via Portland-based record label, Tender Loving Empire) earlier this month, and it very well may be Ragel’s best to date.

Hoop + Wire encompasses the avant-garde, hip-pop staggering that sets BEDM apart from his Portland electro-pop counterparts, but this release is a bit more accessible than the rest. The first, and title, track begins with a catchy guitar riff atop tinny drum machine beats that seamlessly mesh into electronic blips with Ragel’s breathy vocals soaring over the music. And whereas most of BEDM’s tunes possess a poppy air, they tend to have too much going on to make them traditionally danceable, but “Hoop + Wire,” is a hard song not to dance to.

The third song, “ABQ,” illustrates Ragel’s hip-hop influence, as well as his talent on the turntable. The track is a 2:20 minute-long sample mash-up of crunchy drums, pounding synths, and opera-like vocals that the turntable-ist somehow manages to spin into a smooth, coherent tune. The track flows effortlessly into “Syncopated,” which features yet another of Ragel’s musical talents, the baritone sax.

The album takes a turn back to BEDM’s abstract, experimental art-pop with “Gold in the Hills,” a jumbled mixture of surf-rock guitar riffs, fluttering keys, saxophones, and manipulated vocal samples. Ragel’s voice makes its first appearance halfway through the song and adds a layer of darkness to the track with its deeply sung, minor key.

The album continues as a series of emotional and musical ups and downs, but each song shares a theme—the thoughts, feelings and experiences of a road trip. Ragel dreamed up this album on a cross-country drive.

With this in mind, it only makes sense the album ends with a track entitled, “70 Miles an Hour.” This song is more fluid and lucid than its predecessors, with beautiful flowing keyboard blips in the vain of The Postal Service, and Ragel pleading, “Look out, the hills you see, I’m only on the other side, will you be faithful to me?” The answer is yes, Jon, as long as you continue releasing albums like this.

-Katrina Nattress

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SXSW Day 2: NYC to ATX party + MoTel Aviv, BlackBells, Deadbeat Darling

Day 2 was the day of honing navigation skills. The Baeblemusic.com Party at the Scoot Inn lined up promising acts that alternated between indoor and outdoor stages. A park-style area was decorated with paper lanterns and framed by two bars and a food cart, and listeners relaxed on tree stumps and patches of grass. Seabear, a sextet from Iceland, melded strings and acoustic guitars into a pleasant and exotic folk rock. Inside, Washington DC’s These United States upped the energy with a Southern rock lilt and grimy Gospel flavor, and back in the sunshine, Australia’s Dappled Cities played avant guarde electro-pop. Off the main drag at the 21st Street Co-Op, a “clothing optional” shindig hosted Austin natives, MoTeL Aviv (pic below), in an abstractly painted dorm common room. I found the city’s friendliest taxi-driver en route to Hyde Park Bar and Grill (South) for The Deli’s second sponsored show, and completed my night with some 6th Street sight-seeing.

The Deli Magazine and CitizenMusic joined forces to educate Austin on some of the best artists from New York at Hyde Park Bar and Grill (South). A spacious restaurant and bar, home to the best French fries around, opened into a patio where a tent housed the live music for the evening. A SXSW suppertime party, the “NYC in ATX Showcase” entertained a group of all-aged diners, families, and rock ‘n rollers with five Big Apple acts, including Blackbells (picture below), New Madrid, The Shake, Deadbeat Darling, and Black Taxi. Blackbells offered guests free EP’s and a superb set after traveling thirty hours straight to Texas. The fiery New Madrid pushed forward with outstanding vivacity, and The Shake’s second evening at Hyde Park resulted in enthusiastic feedback and a new population of fans. The wind picked up and carried Deadbeat Darling’s blissful and stirring reggae-rock throughout venue, and Black Taxi almost blew a fuse with their high-powered instrumentation and charisma. Mission “Rock Austin” accomplished. - Meijin Bruttomesso





SXSW 1st day: Suckers, Black Taxi, Roky Erickson, Okkefville River

The first day of SXSW is like the first day of school; you’re excited, nervous, and seemingly prepared. Unlike school, however, SXSW is never boring. After my first ever flight through Detroit and an early morning dash to registration at the Austin Convention Center, I scampered off to Rusty Spurs for Deli sponsored Music Tech Mash Up party, where line-up improvements kept me corralled. The event spanned two days and squeezed in fifty bands at Rusty Spurs, a tri-room gay saloon (how cool is that?) decorated with cowboy boots and Texas trinkets. The Mash Up party celebrated the collaboration of various industries, music, merchandise, and new media technology. Upon arrival, sound spewed from every corner of the venue as bands performed on the main indoor stage, in the lounge, and on the outdoor patio. Mid-day, the barbeque was fired up to feed South by South West goers with free burgers and chicken while they enjoyed the second day of the extravaganza’s hefty line-up. Some of the early-morning performers included LA-based, disco-influenced pop-rockers, Foster the People, dancey R'n'B from Toronto, Curtis Santiago, and Las Vegas’s new-wave, electro-pop, Imagine Dragons. Pleasant surprises added at the last minute, such as Brooklyn’s Black Taxi, and Washington D.C.’s alternarockers, Hotspur, caught the ears of those passing by and reaffirmed excitement for SXSW.

Following a quick Tex-Mex bite and nearly sun-burning in a line for the Paste Magazine Party at The Galaxy Room, I witnessed the last of the Suckers’ (top pic) set and the first part of rock-meets-singer/songwriter Austinites, Roky Erickson with Okkervil river (bottom pic). The day pushed on as I went off the beaten path to Hyde Park Bar and Grill(South) where The Whiskey Rebellion’s evening of music and literature featured NYC’s The Shake who enlivened the venue’s calm St. Patrick’s Day. Due to overcapacity venues back on 6th Street, my night was curtailed. Tomorrow would be a new day with much music to hear. - Meijin Bruttomesso





DJ mixes: Linger & Quiet/Miracles Club

 

Portland DJ duo Linger and Quiet have just released their fourth podcast mix, which you can grab over at their blog, along with other rad posts including (a highly recommended) January 11th post of a live recording of a Miracles Club DJ set.

Miracles consists of Rafael Fauria and the prolific Honey Owens of Valet and various other projects. The audio was captured during their monthly "Nightclubbing" party, which they host at Holocene. Pick up an MP3 of Miracles Club's nifty Portland-style house single "Light of Love" over at GvsB.

Linger and Quiet mix #4 is eclectic and fun to listen to. Track list is as follows:

Nick Drake - Saturday Sun (Demo) [NICK]

Prince Buster - Julie [Fab]

Small Black - Despicable Dogs (Washed Out Remix) [Lovepump]

Happy Family - Cups [10,000hz]

Peaking Lights - Intro to Imaginary Falcons [Night People Records]

Run DMT - Money [CDR]

Jay Dee - U-Love [Stones Throw]

Banjo or Freakout - Archangel [CDR]

Chief Kooffreh - Tribute to Beyonce and Madonna (For Not Smoking Weed) [Chief Kooffreh]

Missing Linkx - Who to Call [Philpot]

White Days - It Hits Deep [White Days]

Omar S - Lift Him Up Feat. Don Q [FXHE]

Childhood '87 - Caught Up [Aux]

Steve Miller Band - Journey to Eden [Capitol]

Linger and Quiet are spinning this Thursday, the 18th over at Valentines starting at 9 p.m.

- Joel Sommer

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Nice Nice Go Extra Wow on Debut and SXSW

It’s a year of firsts for our little electronic duo, Nice Nice. Jason Buehler and Mark Shirazi are probably currently soaking up the rays in good ol' Austin, TX, gearing up for their debut SXSW appearance, and performing at not one, but four venues. The festival kicks off a nationwide spring tour for the psychedelic electronica outfit, and will be in support of a new album.

That new album, my friends, is Buehler and Shirazi’s debut effort on Warp Records, Extra Wow.

According to Nice Nice’s publicist, Extra Wow is an extremely apt title for an album that presents itself as a constantly unfolding collection of kaleidoscopic musical sediments. Each song effectively builds on the one before it to create the effect of an album-length crescendo that encompasses everything from forward-reaching psychedelia and neo-primitive electronic experiments to dub rhythms and learned lessons from the pillars of krautrock. From the acid-punk opening of "One Hit," it's apparent that establishing your equilibrium within the world of Nice Nice will not be easy.

After playing together for nearly a decade, it’s about time Nice Nice gets the chance to gain exposure. The album drops April 6th, and I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty stoked on giving it a listen. Now if only they were playing in Portland…

Check out the video for "Everything Falling Apart":

 

TOUR DATES

03.17 SXSW 2 PM - Music Gym

03.17 SXSW – Warp showcase 8 PM - The Phoenix

03.18 SXSW – Hype Machine/Lose Control Party 12 PM - Vice House

03.21 El Paso, TX – Black Market

03.22 Phoenix, AZ - Trunk Space

03.23 Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland

03.24 San Diego, CA – Casbah

03.26 San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine

04.15 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel

04.16 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brendas

04.17 New York, NY - Santos Partyhouse

04.18 Brooklyn, NY – Market Hotel

04.19 Cambridge, MA - Middle East Downstairs

04.20 Montreal, CANADA - La Sala Rosa

04.21 Toronto, CANADA - Legendary Horseshoe Tavern

04.22 Pontiac, MI - Crofoot Ballroom - Pike Room

04.23 Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle

04.24 Cincinnati, OH - Northside Tavern

- Katrina Nattress

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