Drawing on 60s and early 70s bossa, and samba, cumbia, psychedelia, and soul, Los Angeles four-piece Chicano Batman plays Underground Arts tonight. The retro-leaning Latin rockers released Cycles of Existential Rhyme last year, and will be joined by Las Cafeteras at tonight’s show. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Read The Key’s interview with Chicano Batman here, and listen to “She Lives on My Block” below. Continue reading →
Japan-based psychedelic rock ensemble Acid Mothers Temple is coming up on twenty years of cranking amps and tripping out minds the world around. Their discography is so sprawling that it merits its own Wikipedia entry, and I won’t even speculate how many records they’ve put out before this year’s Astrogasm From The Inner Space. Suffice it to say, band leader Makoto Kawabata and his rotating cast of players have a strong Philly following (thanks to the enthusiasm of local promoters R5 Productions, as well as like-minded locals Bardo Pond) and tonight’s show will be a loud, expansive and expressive journey in the best imaginable way. Listen to Astrogasm‘s title track below, and get more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Philly hip hop artist Dice Raw will be performing for free at City Hall tonight as part of the City Hall Presents concert series. His newest album, Jimmy’s Back, is available. The album’s is based on The New Jim Crow, a bestselling book by Michele Alexander. Along with the LP, Dice Raw is releasing a short documentary that explores mass incarceration and the prison system, especially in Philadelphia. The concert will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall courtyard. Listen to Dice Raw’s new track, “Animal,” below.
Tomorrow brings the official release of the album the internet has been eagerly anticipating since a 16-second ad aired without fanfare during a March episode of SNL. Random Access Memories, the latest from French discotronic duo Daft Punk, has been streaming on iTunes since last Wednesday, and its lead single – the pop earworm “Get Lucky,” sung by the ever-charismatic Pharrell – has been bumping the XPN airwaves since last month.
But what about the album beyond that? There’s a lot of hype and excitement in the air for it, but hype doesn’t always equate to quality. Sure, the duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter released the trend-setting 1997 album Homework and the irresistible Discovery in 2001. And yeah, James Murphy name-checked them in that song title that one time. But less discussed is the uneven 2005 effort Human After All, or the Tron soundtrack.
Does Random Access Memories hold up? Is it a new chapter in dance music and a return to glory for these mysteriously helmet-clad techno-heads? Or is it a bunch of bluster that will breeze away with the next album-of-the-minute? We asked a handful of Philly’s own electronic music heads – from Chris Powell of Spaceship Aloha and Man Man to DJ Apt One- for their thoughts on Random Access Memories, and got a variety of responses. Check them out below. Continue reading →
Perhaps it’s because he’s a drummer, or maybe he’s a drummer because of it, but Chris Powell has a knack for juggling multiple things at once. Onstage behind a kit – in present day avant-popsters Man Man and going back a dozen or more years with his formative group Need New Body – it’s rhythms, tempos and even percussion instruments Powell mixes up. In a broader sense, it’s projects: he’s a producer and collaborator with Grant$, a band leader with Adventuredrum, and a cosmic one-man dance-maker in his new-ish electronic project Spaceship Aloha.
Last year, Powell launched the Spaceship with Universe Mahalo: Volume #1, his debut LP on the local experimental label Data Garden. It’s a heady potpourri of body-moving dub beats, exotic tropical instrumentation, futuristic electro-pop textures, and samples of that lean both towards science fiction (humming lasers, pinging radar) and summer vacation (breezy surf and seagulls). The followup, Tropical Information Systems, will be out this summer on Data Garden, and tonight he makes his second-ever live appearance at Johnny Brenda’s, opening for Mouse on Mars – who rang among his electronic music heroes. Powell and I swapped emails to get to the root of Spaceship Aloha.
The Key: The project emerged when you got married in Hawaii a few years ago. Was that trip your first full-on exposure to Polynesian music? What about the music hooked you so much?
Chris Powell: I’ve been obsessed with Hawaii ever since childhood. It’s this beautiful, magical, exotic, tropical destination – I love the vibe of Hawaii generally, and the music is a big part of that. But I’ve been familiar with Polynesian music since I was very young, thanks to growing up in a part of the country with wonderful local radio stations that played music from all over the world.
TK: The sci-fi / spacey electronic element of the band is great, because for the listener, it’s such an unexpected sonic twist. I have a hunch, however, that for you it was a natural fit – of course you’d think to mix the two styles! Is that right – did it come together really that quickly? Or was it more of an evolution?
CP: The sci-fi sonic style comes very naturally to me. I’m a huge science fiction fan – it just makes sense that those sounds would make their way into my music. I love the old sound effects that were used for UFO’s and spaceships. The Jetsons‘ sound design is amazing. And in terms of fantastical and exotic travel, it doesn’t get much more fantastic than outer space. Continue reading →
German IDM duo Mouse on Mars play Johnny Brenda’s tonight. Coming out of the heyday of their genre in the nineties, Mouse on Mars have continued to make surprising and enthralling electronic music all the way up to today. Parastrophics, their most recent record, was released in 2012 on Monkeytown. Where a lot of current electronic music focuses on neatly produced sonic landscapes that fill-in all of the voids, Mouse on Mars take a much more abstract and fractured approach that blends math-like dissonance with chopped melodies. Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with Philadelphia’s Spaceship Aloha can be found here. Watch the video for “Polaroyced” from Parastrophics below.
Chris Powell of Man Man, Spaceship Aloha and numerous other percussive Philly projects recently reinvented a track from local disco-tronica duo Night Panther. While the original has a bouncy piano backing and a bright major-key melody, this rendition mixes a bump-and-grind beat and ethereal outer space synthesizers. Vocal melody is exactly the same, but it sounds like a completely different song. Check out the remix over at PIgeons and Planes, and catch Night Panther when they open for Norwegian Arms at Johnny Brenda‘s on December 21. Tickets and information on the show can be found here.