eventseekr Shuffle: Slow and Low

Whether it be baritone, bass or something in between (I’m awful at classifying vocal ranges), I’m a sucker for a nice deep voice in rock and pop music. Here’s a brief playlist of some of my favorite molasses-mouthed singers lending their patented pipes to a series of pretty, haunting, romantic and sardonic tracks.

First up is “My Baby Cried All Night Long” by Lee Hazlewood, whose unmistakable voice sets the high water mark for low-voiced crooners, in my humble opinion. For further listening, check out his excellent late-1960s collaborations with Nancy Sinatra.

For the next track, you’ll find “A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off,” the first of three Magnetic Fields songs on the list. As far as clever lyric writers with the ability to craft hilarious and beautiful turns of phrase go, Stephin Merritt is tops in my book.  His opus, 69 Love Songs (from which all three songs here are pulled), can be frustratingly overambitious at times, but is really worth sifting through.

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Dance Party with Yelle at Mezzanine [Review]

Yelle | Dirty Ghosts | Saturday, November 12, 2011 | Mezzanine | San Francisco

Yelle. Photo by Joey Pangilinan.

Some nights when going to a show, you just have this feeling in your stomach that lets you know that the entire night will be this epic, sprawling adventure. Approaching the entrance of the Mezzanine last Saturday night, you could feel the energy just by looking at the line of people still waiting to get inside with the music blaring out the front doors. I felt even more amped up when I entered the venue and saw the crowd of people already inside anxiously awaiting the dancey, electronic-pop sounds of Yelle. By the time my friends and I got inside, Dirty Ghosts was nearing the end of its set. Local to San Francisco, Dirty Ghosts had won a contest to open up for the French-headliners. Although we didn’t get to see much of its set, the band had clearly worked the room into a mood to dance and party.

The sold out show at Mezzanine was originally meant to be the second stop on this month-long tour for Yelle, but unfortunately, due to complications with visas, the tour opener at The Wiltern in Los Angeles had to be rescheduled until a few days after the San Francisco show. Thus, in the last 24-36 hours leading up to the show at Mezzanine, my friends and I were a bit nervous about the possibility of our show having to be postponed as well.

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eventseekr Shuffle: Punch It or Hug It? A Playlist of Lovely Assault

“For one human being to love another, that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks … Love is like the measles. The older you get it, the worse the attack.” –Rainer Maria Rilke

Love and War are two words that change lives. Sweethearts swoon and entire countries are swept up by the ravishment of warfare. My choice of the word Love over Peace is quite intentional, as I’m a firm believer in the notion that the latter is in no way the antonym to the despair that is War. Peace is merely the middle ground: safety. Creation and community are needed in order to properly balance out the scale, therefore Love fits the bill quite nicely. But I advise all to be careful with quickly labeling Love and War as two entities working in opposition. The famous Hellenic War delineates otherwise, showing how love may beget war. In contrast, one can only hope that the converse is just as likely.

I aimed to create a playlist which highlights both of these aspects of human nature while also making room for the grey areas that lie between anger and adoration. There is a certain tension involved in love – a push and pull that can turn into frustration or worse. Some of these songs come purely from the heart while others were written with an antagonistic slant; some are literal in their relevance while others are more abstract, and nearly all of them convey a sense of anxiety. That being said, let’s leave the boggy waters of semantics behind and let the playlist speak its case.

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Catching Up with Reptar [Interview]

Back in October, I wrote a review for indie, dance-rock band Reptar‘s second consecutive show at the Fillmore with Foster the People. After that show, I had the chance to chat with a few of the members outside the venue, and they were kind enough to offer me contact information so that we could set up an interview at a later date. It just so happened that Reptar was coming back to the Fillmore only a few weeks later to play a show with the electronic-indie duo Phantogram, on November 2nd, so I jumped at the chance to get an interview with the up-and-coming band.

Originally, I was scheduled to do a phone interview with Reptar the day of the show, but after a game of phone tag–a succession of failed call attempts on both sides–Reptar keyboardist William Kennedy invited me to come down to the venue for the show. I couldn’t believe my luck!

After meeting up with Kennedy outside of the venue, he rounded up drummer Andrew McFarland, lead singer Graham Ulicny and their behind-the-scenes man/ videographer Ross Brubeck, and we entered the dressing room of the Fillmore for a quick interview. I have to admit: when I first entered the room I had an internal nerd moment and tried to wrap my head around how many rock and roll legends stood in the same spot I was in. That mental relapse aside, my conversation with the guys was like talking to old friends. Like myself, they are all very obvious products of the 1990s.

How is San Francisco treating you so far?

Soo Good. It’s amazing.

Have you had time to see the city?

Yeah the beach! There was a surf competition. We saw Slater kill it! Slater went AWOL. (laughs)

Reptar. Photo courtesy of Tell All Your Friends PR.

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Skyping with Yelle [Interview]

This week, Yelle returns to San Francisco. The Mezzanine will play host to the electronic dance band from France this Saturday night, November 12th. Band members Tepr, GrandMarnier and Yelle herself were last here in San Francisco back in May of this year at the Grand Regency Ballroom just after playing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA in April.

I had the good fortune to see Yelle not only at Coachella this year, but on Halloween night three years ago, also at Mezzanine, when the group was on tour promoting its first album, Pop-Up. My friends and I discovered Yelle despite not knowing a lick of French. As with most fellow fans of Yelle, having a less than working knowledge of the French language is certainly not a hindrance. What makes Yelle so appealing is the band’s character and energy, which shine beyond any language barrier. With the release of the band’s follow-up album, Safari Disco Club, all members of the band are a little older and  a little wiser, but still always in the mood to have some fun and make you want to dance.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity, through Skype, to catch up with Yelle herself, Julie Budet, after the band wrapped production work on a new music video. Naturally, some topics discussed included her (as well as the band’s) passion for music, the band’s style and aesthetic, Halloween and even a little bit about making a fan out of Katy Perry and getting a chance to open up a few shows for her in the UK this year.

Yelle. Photo by Grégoire Alexandre.

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