Archives for April 29, 2018

Unknown Mortal Orchestra at 9:30 Club

Photo By (Jesse Benitez/WGMU).

Photo By (Jesse Benitez/WGMU).

Right off the bat, I could sense that this wasn’t going to be just like any ordinary show.


By: Jesse Benitez

Following the release of their fourth studio album, Sex & Food (2018), New Zealand-American psychedelic rock band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO for short), embarked on a full-length international tour with London-based, electro-dance artist, Makeness. On Friday, April 27th, the musicians stopped in the nation’s capital to play an electrifying show at the iconic 9:30 Club. Right off the bat, I could sense that this wasn’t going to be just like any ordinary show. My anticipation for their performance stemmed from my previous experience back in 2016 during their Multi-Love (2015) tour, and let me just tell you, these guys don’t fool around when it comes to stage presence. Every euphonic melody makes an impressive statement on its own, but along with the band’s magnetizing energy, Unknown Mortal Orchestra is indisputably remarkable.

A feature that’s worth noting about UMO’s takeover of the club Friday night was how they managed to visually encompass the whole aesthetic of their latest album. The venue’s stage was constructed to have a personality of its own, complete with white faux fur rugs, a mod plastic swivel chair for frontman Ruban Nielson, and a minimalistic, achromatic turntable sitting atop a sleek, coffee table. Beneath a couple of bookshelf speakers sat one of their long-play, instrumental SB-01/SB-02 vinyl records, ready for a spin on the groovy player. The stage itself embraced all the good things of my low-key fascination with modern/retro-inspired living space fusions, and my slightly pretentious dream of hanging in a contemporary abode listening to strictly analog recordings-

Good thing the song that started it all, “Ffunny Ffriends,” off their first and self-titled album, Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2011), snapped me right out of my grandiose daydreams and back into the nostalgia of UMO’s humbly memorable beginnings. The band continued with some fan favorites, featuring delicate tunes like “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark),” from their second studio album, II (2013), and “Necessary Evil,” the eighth track from their critically acclaimed, third studio album, Multi-Love. I have to give credit to the amped crowd as well, for just flat out being incredible and going wild for Ruban when he produced shrilling riffs along the neck of his guitar. The electric lo-fi solos were notable in “From the Sun,” and “So Good at Being in Trouble,” both of which are featured in II (2013). From there on, the band continued with blasting energy, powering through “Nerve Damage!” off their self-titled album, and into a personal favorite of mine, “American Guilt,” the sixth track off Sex & Food (2018) that was released as a single prior to the official album release. The illumination on stage went from kaleidoscopic to fiery, misty reds, thematically appropriate for “American Guilt” and reminiscent of the cover art on the single itself.

I still cannot believe how engaging UMO was with the audience. Drummer Kody Nielson revved up the fans during their performance of “Not in Love We’re Just High,” the eleventh track from Sex & Food (2018), while frontman Ruban Nielson sang the song from within the crowd- all while perched on a fan’s shoulders! The sense of community and love in the crowd manifested itself even more so in tender tunes of the night such as, “Chronos Feasts on His Children,” and “If You’re Going to Break Yourself,” the final track from their latest album. The show could not have been complete without an opalescent version of “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone,” a hypnotically dance-inducing jam off Multi-Love (2015). I looked around hoping nobody was actually checking their phone because not only would that be painfully ironic, but Unknown Mortal Orchestra is the one band you wouldn’t want to miss a second of.

 

Album Review: The Voidz’ Virtue (2018)

Thevoidzvirtue

Julian Casablancas, the man who wrote arguably the best album of the 2000’s, now might have a two-decade streak.

Top Tracks: Leave it in My Dreams, QYURRYUS, ALieNNatioN, Lazy Boy…… All the songs.

Rating: 9.8/10


By: Mikey Bamarni

If you’ve ever looked up anything on Google about The Strokes you know how much Julian Casablancas is and especially was their leading creative force. Their first two albums, the ones that have achieved the most critical and commercial success, are basically 100 percent credited to Casablancas. The music, the melody, the lyrics, are all his. Except for one co-writing credit with Albert Hammond Jr on “Automatic Stop”. Album three saw Julian allowing a little more bandmate input, but due to its drastically darker sound (thanks at least partially to changing their producer), did not sell as well or receive the same response from critics or fans at the time.

Now what ends up being of The Strokes afterwards can be argued on both sides. The other members were getting better and better as artists, and with that came the desire to be more involved in the music making process, but on the other side Julian was also improving and wanted to have the band stick to the same writing routine that brought the first two albums such acclaim. This led to a minor break and some solo albums from the NYC five-piece. Two more solid Strokes records followed that were now made as a “band” (All five member have songwriting credits here or there), but Julian never got his chance to be the artistic strong force he once was.

No promotion was done for that last record and within a year Jules decided to release his second non-Strokes album credited to Julian Casablancas+The Voidz. At this point they still weren’t together, just seeing each other. It was an album that was super ambitious, but also not very accessible. It was a crazy record full of loud sounds and beautiful melodies so buried in the mix that dissecting lyrics was nearly impossible. Then after a Strokes EP which many critics and fans thought was a step in the right direction, the Voidz returned this year for album number two. Now it can be said…… Julian Casablancas is a genius.

This album is not perfect or linear, but that’s its greatest appeal. In interviews prior to the release, Julian stated that this album was meant to be more accessible than the last JC+Voidz outing. He also made it clear that there would be a song on it for everyone. This is true. The record basically sounds like 15 different bands all with the same lead singer and consistent lyrical content, almost solely centered on the issues facing 2018 America.

It starts off with “Leave It in My Dreams”, the most Strokes sounding on here, but with enough strange guitar work and textures to make it unique. “QYURRUS”, arguably the best song on the record, is crazy. Self-described as Arabic-Prizon Jazz with a cult-like chant at the end, it will lead to an overwhelming first listen, but go back for more listens and you will see all of the appeal. To think that this man also wrote Last Nite is mind blowing.

Then you’re again put in the ring with “Pyramid of Bones”. This track is heavy, loud, yells, and bites. Almost coming across like a Black Sabbath/System of a Down track. Then comes “Permanent High School”, a song that wouldn’t be too out of place on the last Strokes record Comedown Machine.

Two tracks that I can’t fully give a perfect score to are “One of the Ones” and “Black Hole”. The later one only because it is meant to sound super loud and raw, not something that appeals to me. When you try to appeal to everyone you’re bound to not get a perfect score, and that’s expected but also should be commended.

I could do a track-by-track here, but that would take forever. This album is required listening, it is a tour-de-force that only gets better with repeated listens. The only sad thing about this album is that it ends. This is not it for Julian. He is still breaking ground and pushing the limits of what an artist can do almost 20 years after introducing a new style of music that has brought artists like Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, and Kings of Leon to the mainstream. Never question his qyurryus mind.

 

Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed are solely those of the individual(s) involved and do not necessarily represent those of WGMU Radio and its employees. The information in this site is intended solely for the personal non-commercial use of the user who accepts full responsibility for said use. WGMU Radio assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site. WGMU Radio does not warrant that this site and any information or material downloaded from this site, will be uninterrupted, free of viruses, or other harmful items. You may not edit, modify, or redistribute content from this site without prior permission from the General Manager.