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Band/Artist Profile

Unmasked: How Locked Club is Redefining Techno and the Club Experience

This past week I was browsing YouTube like I usually do, watching cooking videos that make me hungry and then distracting myself with old Boiler Room sets. However, in the sidebar of one of these sets was a thumbnail that caught my attention, a pair of DJs under the alias “Locked Club” wearing chainmail coifs and ski masks with shirtless men dancing behind them. Little did I know that this video would put me on a deep dive into the emerging underground Russian techno scene that is shaping up to be one of the most interesting and unique in the world. 

Locked Club’s set from STVOL.TV on YouTube

What immediately struck me when watching this set was the overall sound and track selection. Locked Club are not constrained by the conventions of genre, playing everything from hard-hitting electro and punk-inspired techno to their own take on traditional Russian folk music off of their new EP “Sadism”. All the vocals are sampled from viral Russian social media videos and other Russian memes, unfortunately none of which I understand. This unconventionality brings a breath of fresh air and energy into the set, all of which is hilariously put on display in the last 10 minutes of the video with a mosh pit and essentially the destruction of the set. 

The next noticeable feature of this set is Locked Club’s appearance. Everyone including the main duo are dawning ski masks and chainmail, bulky jewelry, and a plethora of tattoos, most notably of their black ski mask logo. Doing some digging on their Instagram, I found many posts with people sharing the same tattoo. Two weekends ago they played a sold out show in Moscow’s Mutabor club, some highlights including a religious opening ceremony, more mosh pits, and someone getting a live tattoo of that same ski mask logo.

Cover for the "Sadism" single. A large group of half-naked men with tattoos in ski masks piling on top of each other
Cover for “Sadism” single

Locked Club is creating more than just music, they are creating a lifestyle, one that is nearly impossible to compare to in Western techno and club culture. Rather than writing it off as Russian cultural craziness, I think Locked Club is a glimpse into the potential future of techno and the clubbing experience. The days of 128-133bpm sets that have you shuffling your feet back and forth all night are seemingly dwindling as people, including myself, do not find it that interesting. The younger generation of club goers are searching for something truly unique and energizing that you can indulge in all night. While impossible to predict, Locked Club is in the right direction, and I am excited to see where the next couple of years brings them. 

If you enjoy the sound of Locked Club, I highly recommend you check out their new EP “Sadism” and their complete discography on their Bandcamp, as well as other artists on the Private Persons label.

Stay dancin’,

DJ HRLN

Categories
Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

Maude Latour Releases Dazzling New Single, “Clean”

Maude Latour is a New York City based indie-pop artist who has had a semi-recent rise to popularity through TikTok. However, she has been releasing music since May of 2017. With her signature Maude Latour logo on all of her cover art, catchy usernames on social media (@maudelstatus) and polished sound, it seems like she was destined for this.

Recently, she came out with a single titled, “Clean,” a song detailing the difficulty of maintaining the simple mundanities of life after someone important leaves you. The hook of the chorus, laments “I’m even tryna keep my room clean / Every day, I make my bed just to get you out my head.” She explores the aftermath of a relationship, and focusing on yourself after it ends, by keeping yourself occupied and healthy. It’s everything a pop song should be: catchy, relatable, memorable and energetic. 

The music video, directed by Tess Lafia and produced by Eric Barrett, is a great step forward from her other music videos. Coming from someone who doesn’t like watching music videos, “Clean” was fun, quippy, and has great visuals.

Official Music Video for “Clean” by Maude Latour

Latour also released an acoustic version of “Clean” on YouTube, which pales in comparison to the studio version, but is a more intimate experience.

You can find “Clean” on any streaming service, and you can also find Maude on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

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Band/Artist Profile Concert Preview Festival Coverage

Hopscotch Music Festival 2021 Series: Animal Collective

Animal Collective is difficult to pin down and a lot of fun to consume. Luckily, the band is performing this year at Hopscotch Music Festival on Saturday, September 11th at 9:30 pm at City Plaza. Keep reading to learn a little bit about the band and their discography.

The American experimental band came together in Baltimore, Maryland in 2003. Animal Collective, consisting of Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Deakin (Josh Dibb), and Geologist (Brian Weitz), weave genres through their unique vocal combinations, ambiance, and pop foundations. The members began to musically collaborate when they met in school before the band was officially formed. Their discography consists of a variety of retroactively added music, studio albums, extended plays, live albums, visual albums, and a soundtrack album. 

Check out their full discography below:

Studio Albums:
– Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished (2000) (as Avey Tare and Panda Bear)
– Danse Manatee (2001) (as Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist)
– Campfire Songs (2003) (as Campfire Songs)
– Here Comes the Indian (2003) (also known as Ark)
– Sung Tongs (2004)
– Feels (2005)
– Strawberry Jam (2007)
– Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
– Centipede Hz (2012)
– Painting With (2016)

Extended Plays:
– Prospect Hummer (2005) (with Vashti Bunyan)
– People (2006)
– Water Curses (2008)
– Fall Be Kind (2009)
– Keep + Animal Collective (2011)
– Transverse Temporal Gyrus (2012)
– Monkey Been to Burn Town (2013)
– The Painters (2017)
– Meeting of the Waters (2017)
– Bridge to Quiet (2020)

Live Albums:
– Hollinndagain (2002) (as Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist)
– Animal Crack Box (2009)
– Live at 9:30 (2015)
– Ballet Slippers (2019)
– 2 Nights (2020)[112]

Visual Albums:
– ODDSAC (2010)
– Tangerine Reef (2018)

Soundtrack Album:
– Crestone (Original Score) (2021)[113]

I know I’ll be at the Animal Collective set at Hopscotch and I hope you will be, too.

Here’s to my favorite Animal Collective track, “Who Could Win a Rabbit,”

Silya Bennai

Categories
Band/Artist Profile Concert Preview Festival Coverage

Bands to Watch at Hopscotch 2021: Patois Counselors

General Manager Maddie here to tell you all about a band I’m very excited to see play this year’s Hopscotch Festival: Patois Counselors.

Before I indulge in my own personal relationship to the band, the important information to know is that they’re playing Hopscotch tomorrow, Sept 9, on the Moore Square stage at 3:45PM. In terms of genre, they fall under the wide umbrella of “post punk”, so check ’em out if you like stuff like Parquet Courts or Gang of Four.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’m going to tell you my story about the discovery of one of my favorite local bands. We have to go all the way back to October 2018, the fall of my first year at NC State. One of my favorite bands, Screaming Females, was playing a show at one of my favorite venues, the Milestone, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The only problem with this fantastic set-up was that I was stuck in Raleigh without a car. So, I got together with a friend of mine who had a car, agreed to skip my calculus class (the first class I ever skipped in college!) and we drove 2 and a half hours to see Screaming Females.

They were great, of course, but that’s not who I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the second band I saw at the Milestone that night, a local opener called TKO Faith Healer. I didn’t have high expectations; based on the band name, I was expecting some sort of Southern garage-rocky type dad band. However, as they began playing, I found myself enjoying their music a lot more than I was expecting. I’m not gonna say it was like nothing I had ever heard before, but at this time in my life, I wasn’t really listening to bands like Wire or Powerplant much, and I certainly didn’t know how much I would come to love bands like that later on in my life. Besides being sonically interesting, they also played just an overall super clean and tight set.

Also, I have to add that their singer came out wearing an Amnesia Scanner long sleeve t shirt. I did not know who Amnesia Scanner was at the time, but now, I look back on this move and realize how cool it is. Any guy in an “indie rock” band wearing an Amnesia Scanner shirt is a cool guy.

Unfortunately, TKO Faith Healer didn’t have any songs up on Spotify at this point (and they sadly still do not, but they have one EP on Bandcamp), so I more or less forgot about them after the show. I’ve gotten better at this since 2018, but really, the convenience of being on Spotify is a selling factor on if I’ll listen to a band’s music or not- I know, I know, but I gotta make sure all my songs scrobble!

In October 2020- two years later- I was browsing Instagram and came across a post from Charlotte independent record store Lunchbox Records (the second best thing about Charlotte, with the first being the Milestone) that instantly captivated me. I’m a big album artwork guy, and my opinions on an album can strongly be swayed by the album art alone. I had one glance at the eerie, larger-than-life eyeball painting and knew I was gonna like the album. Also, the band was from Charlotte, and I’m always looking for more local bands to love.

I remember quickly going to Spotify and checking out songs from the band’s previous album, Proper Release, in anticipation of the new album. When the new album came out, I proudly uploaded some songs from The Optimal Seat into WKNC’s Local Lunch segment, because our local segment definitely needs some more post-punk.

Since then, the album has been a local favorite of mine, and I find new songs and parts to enjoy with every listen. Some of my favorite tracks are the super-danceable yet anxious The Galvanizer, and angular, jerky Give Me Voltage. I also still continue to be absolutely transfixed by the album artwork; it’s probably one of my favorite album covers of all time (you can see more paintings by the artist on her website, although none of them strike me like the red eye featured on the Optimal Seat).

Now, to get back to TKO Faith Healer- I’m not quite sure when exactly it was, but at one point, I thought back to the band I saw open for Screaming Females and thought they sounded familiar to a new band I had recently discovered. I did some research, and sure enough, TKO Faith Healer lead singer and Amnesia Scanner-enjoyer Bo White was the vocalist in Patois Counselors. While doing research for this post, I discovered White actually has a slew of other Charlotte bands under his wing- basically, I have a lot of new music to listen to.

But, for now, I’m gonna get ready for Patois Counselors’ performance by re-listening to the album that captured my attention from the first second I saw it. I hope you’re able to catch Patois Counselors’ set tomorrow, but if not, you can listen to their music anytime.

Categories
Band/Artist Profile New Album Review

“SYS03” by FJAAK (EP Review)

EP: “SYS03” by FJAAK

RELEASE YEAR: 2021

LABEL: SPANDAU20

RATING: 8.5/10

BEST TRACKS: “Fabric” and “Blitz”

Berlin based duo FJAAK is back with their new EP “SYS03”, the third installment in the “SYS” series. It’s no secret that clubs all over the world have struggled to stay financially afloat amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing an opportunity to give back, FJAAK created the “SYS” series, a charity project where four club-titled tracks are released with all revenue generated going directly to the four clubs. The clubs featured in “SYS03” are London based Fabric, Munich based Blitz, Brussels based Fuse, and Cologne based Gewölbe. 

The idea behind the whole project makes each individual track and EP installment a unique listening experience. Before playing the opening track “Fabric”, I decided to search for a couple images of the dancefloor. Hearing the heavy and slightly reverberated bassline as the track played, I envisioned the bass vibrating and reverbing off the brick walls, the subtle melody kick-in drawing oohs and ahs from the crowd.  For a club that looks like a residential brick house, it perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere. I followed my same process for the second track “Blitz”. While maintaining the similar heavy bassline form “Fabric”, the melody is much more pronounced with vocal echoes and hi-hats alongside an almost euphoric synth breakdown. Located in a former museum hall with two dancefloors, two bars, and a vegetarian restaurant, Blitz is a world away from the underground basement setting of Fabric and FJAAK’s ability to portray this juxtaposition throughout the EP is why I gave “SYS03” an 8.5 out of 10.

I have proudly done my part in supporting these clubs and many others by purchasing all three installments, and I hope you will all do the same.

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Band/Artist Profile

Julian Cope Artist Profile

Do you like alternative neo-pagan psychedelic folk punk rock? Well your about to, because today we have one of the weirdest and most wonderful artists I’ve ever been cursed to discover: Julian Cope. Get ready for some label drama, norse myth, and polemics against cars.

If that name sounds familiar, and you’re really into post-punk, it might be because Cope was a founding member of post-punk and neo-psychedelia outfit The Teardrop Explodes, who had a few minor radio hits in Britain. Julian Cope would later say of this band “Would you go back to having your mother change your diapers?” indicating both his sense of artistic evolution and his…. the most diplomatic way I can put it is ‘unique personal character.’

Julian Cope dresses like a BDSM Viking pirate, swears like a Viking pirate, and more or less acts like a Viking pirate would. It’s a very niche and well established brand. Ordinarily I wouldn’t call this obvious attention-seeking from celebrities’ “campy” but in Cope’s case I feel confident this isn’t a publicity stunt. His music is trying to be serious and failing; Cope is camp in its purist form. I say this because his personal eccentricities are reflected in his music in a way that feels genuine, rather than gimmicky. His primary musical touchstone is European folk music, which he blends with trippy effects and heavy guitar tunings into a unique, but not altogether unapproachable style. His music, despite his look, is pretty accessible and mainstream, if you ignore the personality pervading it. A good comparison point would be legendary hippie group, the 13th Floor Elevators, or the less prominent but no less influential Legendary Pink Dots, both of whom share his slightly manic, but focused creative energy.

Beyond the rather mainstream, but immaculately constructed outsider folk, Cope’s most identifiable feature is his lyrics. The topical choices are strange, as you’ve no doubt guessed, but what makes his lyrics unique is the fact they’re somehow grounded and emotionally compelling. I know I said earlier that Cope failed to be serious, and that is true, but in his ridiculous access, he writes some heartfelt music about well-worn topics.

His take on the classic bad romance banger with “Pristine,” is a good example. Usually, these songs emphasize big emotional swings, Hot and Cold relationships where you’re either in pure bliss or pure agony. Cope takes a novel approach by blending the two in one anecdote, asking “How much does it take to go down on someone that you hate?” which is a question that will haunt me to my grave. Cope is very good at these kinds of lyrics, one liners that make you look at a situation in a new light, usually from a very off-putting or alienating perspective. His masterpiece album, “Jehovakill,” opens with the line “Living in the middle of your soul desert,” which is both fantastical and grounded in real emotion. It’s a unique trick, and one that makes Cope an engaging artist.

Usually when I review music this niche or unusual, I add a caveat to the effect of “This won’t be for everyone,” but with Julian Cope I actually feel confident in recommending him to a general audience. Even if this isn’t your genre (lord knows it’s not mine), Cope is worth your time. His major label work from the early 90s is where I’d start, they’ll also be the easiest albums to find on streaming. Happy listening!

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Band/Artist Profile Blog

Author and Punisher

It’s hard to stand out in extreme music these days. It’s been almost 40 years since musicians discovered that screaming over top of a field of static is compelling enough content to garner a career, and the field is starting to slow down. Artists like The Rita have created the heaviest form of music that is possible with current technology, and artists like Atrax Morgue have experimented with dredging the bottom of the lyrical barrel for shock value. The only way left to stand out is to just be really good at what you do, and that’s where Author and Punisher come in.

Author and Punisher is the stage name of one Tristan Shone, a very scary looking man with a whole garden of his own homemade “instruments” that he uses to make some blood-curdling noises. His music is heavy enough that it loses bearing as a genre, melding in the minds of most listeners into that vague bucket called noise. However, if you have an ear for this sort of thing (or like me you cheat by reading his website), the music is best understood as industrial metal. However, those instrumental machines he builds distort this categorization, as the sounds of conventional metal are still constrained by what noises you can produce with a guitar.

Author and Punisher uses some truly imposing instruments. The visual aesthetic of his performance is, as you can see from the photo, some kind of torture chamber. However, if you go over to that website link and take a look at his ‘machines’ tab, another reference point might be BDSM gear. Regardless, the sounds these instruments create match their appearance.

The novelty of homemade torture instruments gives way to some pretty engaging music. Author and Punisher is truly at the top of his field, taking some of the most recent trends in noise and synthesizing it. Since the arrival of Cut Hands, noise musicians have had to step up their rhythmic game, incorporating actual pulses and beats to the clattering of noise. Similarly, fatigue with the hyper-masculine posturing of extreme music more generally has forced musicians to incorporate more emotional and grounded themes to their music. Author and Punisher doesn’t fully represent either of these two trends, but both can be found in some amount. The music is engaging rhythmic level, though by no means complex, and while I would never describe his music as vulnerable or emotionally honest, I do get the sense that Tristen Shone has a soul.

Author and Punisher isn’t going to change your tastes forever or open up genres you thought you hated, but if you’re at least open to noise, metal, or industrial, this artist has a unique level of craft and artistry that will make it worth your time.

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Band/Artist Profile

Cat Power – Challenging Music

Indie kids spend a fair amount of time bragging about how much more challenging and difficult to understand our music is than the mainstream. This attitude has been deconstructed and ridiculed for good reason, but I think many people are being genuine when they say that they crave music that will expand and challenge their tastes. So, I figured I’d start an occasional series on artists and albums that I’ve personally struggled to understand but have come to truly enjoy. You may find these artists easier to digest than I first did, depending on your tastes, but what I really hope is that you find them as rewarding as I have come to find them.

For this inaugural entry, I want to introduce you to Cat Power, a folk, blues and alternative musician who enjoyed serious critical acclaim in the 90s and 2000s but has befuddled the public at large. When I first heard Cat Power, I found her music unpleasant, challenging and inscrutable, and moved on without giving her a second thought. However, you can probably relate to the experience of having a certain album or musician you didn’t immediately like just stick in your brain. Power did this to me, and I’ve found myself returning to her music at regular intervals, each time liking it a little more than the last.

Cat Power was originally championed by Steve Shelley of the Sonic Youth, who produced and appeared on her first couple of albums. This was at a time when every Sonic Youth member was championing a new alternative act. However, the other two artists who got major label contracts this way, Nirvana and Hole, became big accessible pop acts, and none of those three adjectives would ever be applied to Power. Her music is rooted in blues and folk, following the long tradition of rock musicians who retained an interest in the original cultural context of rock and roll. She prefers a lot of covers, playing songs from the American Folk repertoire, early country greats like the Carter Family and Hank Williams, and obscure folk revival artists like Michael Hurley. However, Power stays true to blues in a way that the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan never did, she retains the somber, morbid, depressive atmosphere that dominated the blues, interpreting through the angsty and pained lens of alternative rock. On paper, her sound isn’t that far away from Sheryl Crow or Melissa Ethridge, but her music is pained in such an understated yet sincere way that I actually had to turn it off while writing this article because I couldn’t focus.

As she progressed, Power would become more accessible, relatively speaking. Her first solo album “Myra Lee” is so stripped bare and distorted that the blues-rock core is almost indiscernible. Her second album “What Would the Community Think,” is a lot more comprehensible, and her masterpiece “Moon Pix,” almost resembles an album you might listen to for pleasure. These three albums are the core of her discography, but for starters, I might recommend her less innovative but more accessible work in the 2000s such as “You Are Free,” or her covers record.

When recreational listening takes this much effort, there has to be a considerable payoff, and for Cat Power, that payoff comes in the wistful emotional space her music occupies. There’s something deeply beautiful at the bottom of Power’s depressive emotional space, and indie rock’s obsession with mental health as subject matter can be partially attributed to Power. Artists from Phoebe Bridgers to Billie Eilish owe her a debt, and the better part of 20 years of folksy lyrical indie rockers have tried to recapture and build upon what she accomplished. Give it a shot if you want a rewarding but unforgiving listening experience.

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Band/Artist Profile

An Ode to Mallrat

Mallrat (in her personal life known as Gracie Shaw) is a 22-year-old Australian pop singer and songwriter that has been releasing music since 2016, with the debut of her first EP “Uninvited.” I mentioned Mallrat on my “Australia Favorites” blog back in April. Her discography includes three EPs and a handful of singles. With earnest and angsty lyrics, she brings a refreshing perspective to the world of pop. She has collaborated with artists such as Cub Sport, Allday, and producers like Konstantin Kersting and BJ Burton. 

My favorite of her projects is her 2018 release, “In The Sky.” This five-song EP intertwines the familiarity of streamlined-sounding pop with teenage uncertainty, hope and despair. However, if you’re not a fan of vocal chops, I would stay away from this EP (it’s covered in them). “In The Sky” also has killer cover-art, one of my favorites of all time. 

“In The Sky” – Mallrat (cover art)

My favorite (and in my opinion the best) track by Mallrat thus far is “Charlie” off of her 2019 EP “Driving Music.” She has said that “Charlie is about a lot of different things, but mostly just loving people so much, regardless of whether it’s reciprocated or not.” This song was at the top of my 2020 Spotify Wrapped, and is overall an amazing song about the beauty of the human ability to love. 

I’ve been listening to Mallrat since 2016, and I hope to one day see a full-length album from her. I also think she has a voice suited for soft rock, and would love to hear her experiment in that realm as well.

Sources for this blog include:

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Band/Artist Profile

Janet Jackson Is Being Written Out of Pop Music

I had a small realization the other day. I didn’t know a single Janet Jackson song. She’s one of the bestselling musicians in history, she has ten number one hits, and I can’t name a single one. I checked with my friends, neither could they. Despite everything 80s being blasted ad nauseam for the last decade, Janet has been almost totally forgotten. How did this happen?

Well, we all know how. In 2004 Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake invented the concept of nipples live on stage at the Super Bowl. The sheer shock from millions of Americans discovering that nipples exist made her a social pariah and resulted in a very literal blacklisting in the industry that lasts through today. I would be far from the first to point out the double standard that allowed Timberlake to walk out of the Superbowl controversy virtually unscathed. I’m also not the first person to point out that Janet’s legacy has suffered. I might be more original in suggesting that the stigma surrounding Michael Jackson as of late has done more damage to her career than his, even though she’s more or less kept her mouth shut about him since the 90s. But I’m not really here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about Janet, because as someone born in 2001, I had no clue what type of artist she was. Who was she before the backlash? What would the history books have to say about Janet had CBS not ordered her name be struck clean from the record books? Well, here’s my brief attempt at explaining this well-documented, yet forgotten, career arc for the Zoomers out there, because Janet Jackson is worth revisiting.