Show Review: Porcelain Raft @ DC9

Show Review: Porcelain Raft @ DC9

The first date of Porcelain Raft’s US tour took place on a Monday night live at the DC9 in Washington, D.C. The room was buzzing from the sounds of his opener, Stranger Cat, as a lone man took the stage under the bright lights and began to dazzle the crowd with his mastery of not only his instruments, but his external gear that manipulated the sounds into incredible pictures of colour. This was a night for new songs, and M​auro Remiddi was very humble to share with the crowd saying, ‘I have never played this before, so wish me luck.’ The crowd chanted back ‘Good Luck!’ and sent him off into a flawless rendition of his new work. When the songs would end, Remiddi would laugh and say, ‘The luck must have worked,’ but he is humble far beyond his ability and talent. There are very few shows that baffle me. As a musician and an audio engineer I am always looking at the gear, figuring out in my head, ‘How is he doing it?’ But honestly, I was completely consumed with questions as to what was doing what, and had no way to anticipate the waves of soundscapes that filled the room in tides. But my favorite part of the night was by far his last song. The lights cut, with only a single lamp on stage barely lighting the room. He invited the entire crowd to join him on the stage, and as we sat around a campfire of knobs and cables, he handed the girl next to me what looked like a small computer chip. The...
The Insane Magic Music of Frank

The Insane Magic Music of Frank

  On a stormy night after hours spent at the local bar, I found myself driving toward Baltimore. The sky lit up into flurries of light and thunder as I made my way into the arms of an old friend, greeting me with a cone and a warm place to lay. As the smoke filled the room, she asked me if I had ever watched the movie Frank, and thus began an incredible cinematic and musical journey. The movie is loosely based on Frank Sidebottom, the alter ego of 1980s british musician Chris Sievey. The obvious visual weirdness will strike you right away as the musician named simply Frank, who the film is centered around, is always wearing a giant fake head made of fiberglass. But the story itself is beautiful, following a band trying to reach their furthest corners of musical inspiration and interpretation. Though the band in the film itself is fictional, it draws from many musicians and is more of a vessel to capture the struggle that goes on between members in a group. From insecurities and goal differences, the band ultimately reaches its fate but we are left with what we are always left with, the music. Though the soundtrack itself is extremely littered with song ideas, incomplete clips, and sometimes just transitional 50 second instrumentals, there is an incredibly cool body of work hidden within the mess. The music is raw, experimental, lyrically ambitious, and honestly and most importantly, it is unique and touching. There have been very few music-based films in the past 10, or even 20, years that come close to what...
The Perfection of Imperfection with Pins

The Perfection of Imperfection with Pins

Somewhere along the road, as time has passed, the idea of what is the right take has changed. In the 60s and 70s, the right take was the moment. It was setting up the microphones in the room and waiting for that feeling to come. If you put any Beatles record to a click track, you would be shocked to find that it is not perfectly placed on the grid. But if you listen to it, how could you deny it as incredible music? But now with the tape reels in the garage, and digital editing dominating the music world, we have found more and more that the right take has been chosen not based on the sound, but the mathematics behind it. The Manchester-based band Pins with their sophomore album Wild Hearts has continued to challenge that notion. They play with their hearts and not their minds, and what has been created is an organic sound that, though is stylistically not groundbreaking, is their own. The record is full of gems that are not only instrumental, but lyrical. One of my favorite songs off the new release, “If Only,” repeats the lines, ‘I don’t know what to do with myself’ over and over again and finally finds resolve with the words, ‘I tell myself that I’m okay, but honestly… I don’t believe me.’ There is an honestly in the writing that can only truly be revealed by an honesty that comes from a sound that sounds like a couple of young gals in a room together singing about what they feel and who they are. Music is the...
Sharon Van Etten’s Darkest Corners of Love

Sharon Van Etten’s Darkest Corners of Love

I​n 2014, singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten released her 4th studio release to date, Are We There. The question mark was intentionally left out; as she put it, “…It’s o​pen­-ended, I ask myself that question all the time.” The record documented what must have been the heartbreak of a lifetime. And with that pain she has transitioned it into an incredible work of artistry. We have all had our heartbreaks, and we have all had a million words to say. Though once it is all laid out, spread across the impossible spectrum of timing and possibilities, we get no closer to closure, no closer to the question, “is this all it could have ever been.” Her records are an ark of detailed information of encounters, nights spent alone, and all the emotions in between. Unlike most popular love songs, radio friendly for the masses, Etten takes her expression to a whole new level of production and questions. One of my favorite lines of hers is “I know myself better than you do” off the closing track to her new EP, I Don’t Want To Let You Down. The boldness is contagious in the air, as you sit on the floor of an empty room once full, coming to the realization that you know better than anyone else could. These 4 tracks are the leftover songs from her previous record Are We There, and at the end of it all you find that maybe after 4 records, she has sung her last note on the matter. The question is now is she ready to push away, and has she arrived at...
Five Songs That Changed My Life… 5. Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 5. Many Rivers To Cross by Jimmy Cliff

I was introduced to Jimmy Cliff by my uncle in the form of the classic The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall, an incredible movie about Cliff’s struggle to realize his dreams and escape the Jamaican oppressive system of orders. But of all this legend’s songs, one has remained closest to my heart, the ballad of the lonely wanderer, “Many Rivers to Cross.” In the fall of years ago, I left behind my dream job, security, money, friends, family, and the love of my 22 year old life to go hiking through Europe for 6 months. In the first month, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I started the trip with a car crash, torn muscles, and broken toe. All my plans fell through and there wasn’t a day in those first weeks that I didn’t think about seriously giving up and going back home. I don’t know what compelled me to stay to this day and finish the trip, but it was the greatest adventure of my life. As I hitchhiked through Moldova, Albania, through the hills of Macedonia, I sang along the roadside this song, again and again.   “Many rivers to cross But I can’t seem to find my way over Wandering I am lost As I travel along the white cliffs of Dover Many rivers to cross And it’s only my will that keeps me alive I’ve been licked, washed up for years And I merely survive because of my pride And this loneliness won’t leave me alone It’s such a drag to be on your own My woman left me and...
Five Songs That Changed My Life… 4. Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie

Five Songs That Changed My Life… 4. Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie

The past three songs that I have written of so far have depicted isolation, belonging, and understanding the world around me, but none of them have gone further than touching on the subject that most songs are about… Love. Love is the greatest mystery of life, it is an energy that comes from nothing but a glance and will push us to move mountains, to explore, and even to settle. Growing up anywhere in any context, there is the feeling of love all around you, whether you have it or not. Personally I understood what love was supposed to be, but I never knew what it was until I met the first true love of my life. The one that makes you believe in happy endings, the one that makes you feel like nothing could go wrong. But at times it does, and that emotional turbulence has created some of the greatest songs of all, but one in particular stands out in my eyes. “A Lack of Color” is a song about the realization of a love lost in the mind of a man who seems to be infatuated with logic. There was something almost unbearably honest and raw about the lyrics as the scenario unfolds over and over again on repeat- the classic story of realizing what you have after it is unattainable.   “And when I see you, I really see you upside down But my brain knows better, it picks you up and turns you around Turns you around, turns you around If you feel discouraged when there’s a lack of color here Please don’t worry...