Pearl and the Beard Interview

By Paul on December 14th, 2011 in

Remember Pearl and the Beard? Here’s the interview! Enjoy!

Jeremy Messersmith — The Trilogy of Life

By Paul on July 11th, 2011 in , ,

It sometimes seems like every band has an album about death. It’s almost a requirement before you get your indie badge, but it’s often tough to wade through that gloomy death sea and find a song you really love to death. It takes a unique approach, something that goes beyond the standard death album, to really catch hold in a memorable way. This is why Starfucker had such an amazing album in Reptilians. Similarly, Jeremy Messersmith‘s new album — The Reluctant Graveyard — is an album that just won’t die. And that’s a good thing.

The album came about as a natural progression of Jeremy’s music. He has two older albums, The Alcatraz Kid and The Silver City, and each of the three albums is about a particular stage of life. The Alcatraz Kid is all about growing up. Continuing to the Silver City, Jeremy talks about joining the adult world with adult rules and responsibilities. Finally, we reach Jeremy’s current album, The Reluctant Graveyard. If you look at the progression, you are born, you grow up, you get a job, and then what? You get old and eventually die. It’s a very sad thought, but it is the natural end to a trilogy of albums all about life.

The first song, Lazy Bones, actually seems to be more of an extension of the Silver City. It helps to segue the listener into the new album smoothly, as well as introduce a completely new style of songwriting that will span through the whole album. It is more of a throwback to early Beatles, Beach Boys, and the like. The other two albums just didn’t have that feel to them, nor were they supposed to. Perhaps it helps the album to feel just a little bit older and more mature?

The Reluctant Graveyard stays exciting with Dillinger Eyes, a song about determinism, of all things. This idea pops up again with the song John the Determinist (obviously), and it may be in other songs as well. After Dillinger Eyes, the album really starts to settle down into its much sadder feel. By the time you get to Deathbed Salesman (surprisingly based on a skit by Jerry Seinfeld), you will have realized that this is a really sad album. But, there is a real beauty to the sadness, especially in Deathbed Salesman, and it is this beauty, the wonder of life, that you should really pay attention to. In death, there is a sad homage to life that Jeremy captures perfectly.

Please enjoy our audio interview with Jeremy below, along with the videos from the live show. Then, go get his albums. All three of them. Jeremy lets you pay whatever you want (including nothing) for them, so there’s no reason not to. But please consider paying a few bucks, because an artist this talented deserves it.

Jeremy Messersmith interview

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — Team Josh and Team Dan!

By Paul on May 31st, 2011 in , ,

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Dan and Josh

The musical duo of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott is a magical thing. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in a NASCAR suit. First of all they are just really great people, and the music is just amazing.

Their music is actually kind of tough to describe. It’s definitely pop, but it’s hard to place exactly what kind of pop they are. The band has been described as everything from “psych-retro pop” or “hip-hop and folk” to “beach wave.” Really, it all depends on which song you’re listening to. “Morning Thought” seems to fit more into the psych sound, while “When I Open My Eyes” is a little more hip-hop. Really, Josh and Dan just write whatever they decide they want to write, and we listen because what they write is always good.

But you can listen to music on any MP3 player. Josh and Dan really go the extra mile with the live show, resulting in something that is greater than the sum of its parts. It has just about everything you could ever want in a show. Bubbles? Yes! Audience participation? Definitely! There’s more, but really it’s just better to see for yourself. You can check out the videos below, but even those don’t do justice to the real thing. If you can see Dale live, do it. It will be time (and money) well-spent.

Speaking of money well-spent, Dale recently released a vinyl version of their EP “Horsepower” with four songs on one side and four remixes of their single “Nothing But Our Love” on the other, with mp3 downloads of each song. Going the extra mile — which seems to be a recurring theme for Dale — their vinyl comes with 3D glasses giving you a new way to enjoy the album art. It might seem “gimmicky” to some people, but they’re not really charging more than you would expect to pay for any other vinyl, so it’s completely out of love for their fans that they put forward the extra effort.

I’m going to take this moment to reiterate what wonderful people Josh and Dan are. While talking to them, I couldn’t help but want to keep on talking to them. It didn’t matter about what. The only reason I stopped them is because I didn’t want to run out of space on the camcorder. We almost did, getting over twenty minutes of video for your viewing pleasure. My point is, these guys are very clearly in this for the love of music, and they have you in mind the entire time. They do this to give the people some music to enjoy. You are the entire point of their music.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is currently touring for their upcoming album, “It’s A Corporate World,” set for a June 7th release through Quite Scientific Records. Please enjoy the interview below, where the Reverb Signal asks stupid questions and Dale gives intelligent answers. Afterwards, we have some videos from the live show for you! Please forgive the shaky cam during the show, I was accidentally dancing to the music.

Amor de Dias – Pre-Show Interview

By Paul on May 18th, 2011 in

Amor de Dias

Amor de Dias

Welcome to the Reverb Signal’s first band interview that gets posted before we see the show! Don’t worry, though. We have heard the music and it is well worth your time to see these guys live!

Amor de Dias, an until-now secret super group featuring Alasdair from The Clientele and Lupe from Pipas, will be playing at the Red Palace in DC on May 18 (today, technically) @ 8:30 PM. To get you ready for the show, here’s our written interview with the band.

The Reverb Signal: What prompted you to join together to form Amor de Dias, and why keep it a secret until now?

Alasdair: We’d worked and toured together when I was in the clientele, and I loved lupe’s approach to music, which was more punk rock and diy than mine. I wanted to learn from her. We kept it a secret in case it sounded horrible!

Lupe: I’m used to playing spanish guitar in pipas and love the sound of two spanish guitars together, to build harmonies from that base. playing with  Alasdair is fun.

TRS: Are you focusing on Amor de Dias exclusively, or will we still hear from The Clientele and Pipas?

A: The clientele are in hibernation rather than dead; pipas are definitely still going, but very much setting their own pace.

TRS: At times, I can’t help but to compare your work to Eric Satie’s minimalist classical music. Other times, your music is reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, or even traces of Pinback, among many others. What musicians influenced the sound of Amor de Dias?

A: Definitely Satie! John Barry film soundtracks. Bossa nova like gal costa and caetano veloso. Spooky psychedelic folk like trees and Linda perhacs. Vashti Bunyan.

TRS: Despite similarities to other music, there is definitely an element in every song that it uniquely Amor de Dias. How did you approach songwriting for the album? Is this different than how you wrote for The Clientele or Pipas, respectively?

A: there was less pressure on me because we had no record deal, It Was really kind of a hobby thing, A Wonderful hobby. I wanted my songs to be less dark, maybe give more of themselves or have more heart.

L: i felt no rush of any kind while making this record and i think that kind of more languorous, outside the clock attitude comes across both in the music and the themes and lyrics.

TRS: You also had some guest artists play for certain songs in the album. Who contributed to the album, and how did they contribute?

A: We had Damon and Naomi on one song, they recorded their parts in Boston and sent them over to us. Also Heather mcintosh from the instruments on cello. Howard monk on drums Danny manners on bass. Deedee gosling on harp, Anne gray on recorder. Gary Olson from ladybug transistor on trumpet, David bitelli on sax, who’s worked with REM. For Damon and Naomi, Howard, Heather, Gary and Danny they were musicians we loved, we wanted their Ideas so we sent them the songs and said do whatever you want on them. The others we wrote parts for as we had specific plans for their instruments.

TRS: My favorite song from the album, Harvest Time, is originally an Amor de Dias song but was first released in The Clientele’s 2009 album, Bonfires on the Heath. Why did you decide to release it as The Clientele first? Why is the Clientele version different from the original?

A: I recorded it with the clientele cos I didn’t have many good songs back then! I was a little paranoid bonfires on the Heath would be weak as an album without it. The clientele version was recorded much more quickly and is considerably simpler as an arrangement. I like it but The amor version is the true version, the way I heard it in my head when I wrote it.

TRS: You are both painters as well as musicians. How did you approach creating your debut album’s cover art?

L: well it’s sort of a collaboratively painted picture.. i took a photograph of our reflection on an artificial lake in madrid after Alasdair pointed it out; the hand painted lettering is like an inside homage to some of the surrealist painted collage art we both love.

We would like to thank Alasdair and Lupe for taking the time to answer some questions for us! I know we here at the Reverb Signal are looking forward to the show.

STRFKR – So As To Make Life Poignant

By Paul on May 8th, 2011 in ,

Alan Watts, a British Philosopher who popularized Eastern philosophy in the Western world, had a lot to say about life. He said that traditionally, we tend to compare life with a pilgrimage, “which [has] a serious purpose at the end… success or maybe heaven.” But he considered that to be a self-deception. Life was supposed to be “a musical thing and you were supposed to sing, or to dance while the music was being played.”

I agree, and apparently so does dance-synth pop band Starfucker (or the more poster-friendly STRFKR). There’s just so much to love about this band, and I can almost guarantee you’ve heard them and didn’t realize it. If you’ve set foot in the electronics section of a Target recently, you have likely heard a clip of the song “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” from their self-titled first album.

In their latest album — Reptilians — Starfucker writes primarily about death, and they use a lot of Alan Watts quotes to rise above the standard “Pretend We’re Dead” songwriting that treats death like a fun pastime. The album becomes a philosophical statement, and still manages to be danceable synth pop that you can listen to over an over again.

Frontman Josh Hodges creates most of the music himself. His smooth falsetto matches perfectly to the catchy synth hooks and the overall liveliness of the music, especially on songs like “Bury Us Alive” or “Hungry Ghost.” The latter is arguably one of the best in the album, even above their single “Julius,” because of the way it combines positive-minded songwriting with a particularly wonderful Alan Watts quote.

All of this meaning behind the music is surprising, actually. Starfucker has been known to cross-dress for some performances. Not to mention they called themselves “Starfucker” to see how far they could get with a stupid name. But during our interview with Josh and fellow bandmate Ryan Biornstad, they talked about how important it is to think about death, to realize its inevitability, and really deal with it appropriately.

In the end, my point is this: Starfucker works on every level. For somebody that just wants to dance, songs like “Julius” are there to please. If you prefer to appreciate the subtleties of the music, there’s plenty to keep you busy. If you are hoping to come away with a message, you will get a lot out of the album. There’s something for everybody. Sing a little, and dance a little, while the music is playing.

For your entertainment, check out Julius below, followed by our audio-only interview with Starfucker.

The Reverb Signal interviews Starfucker

Special thanks to Josh and Ryan for taking the time to talk to us!

Miami Horror – Bringing Disco Back, Baby!

By Paul on April 12th, 2011 in ,

Disco is dead. It’s a frequently-touted saying. Disco came and went, and it didn’t linger. If you hope to have anything more than a niche fanbase, you won’t play Disco. But Disco isn’t really dead the way that everybody says it is.

Grunge is technically dead too, but bands like Nirvana have helped to shape modern music into what it is today. Eighties hair metal ended when the Eighties ended, but that too has influenced today’s music. You would never have rock without blues, and the Beatles single-handedly revolutionized pop music. The point is, different genres and different bands come and go, but when one generation of music is dead, it continues to live vicariously through its successors.

Our new favorite progeny of Disco is Australian band Miami Horror, the prog band headed by producer and ex-club DJ Ben Plant. They are not Disco. But you’ll want to blow the dust off your old leisure suit (or buy a leisure suit) before you start dancing to the single “Holidays” from their new album “Illumination.” All the Disco trappings are there, from the syncopated bass line to the funky guitar to the… dreamy pop synth? Again, this is not disco. But Disco’s blood courses through Miami Horror’s musical veins.

They call their style of music “Disco-Influenced Prog-Pop.” That sounds about right. The poppy quality is ever-present, with the echo of disco always close behind. By definition, prog songs are musically complex. In any of their songs, there will be a lot of nuanced sounds going on all at once. The fact is, their twelve-song album has been in the works for about four years, and not because they were lazy. To be clear, their EP “Bravado” came out three years ago. So, “Illumination” was already a year in the making even as they released their hit single “Don’t Be On With Her.” That’s real dedication. Real bravado.

Miami Horror has been described as being “Synth-Obsessed,” although they themselves claim that’s journalistic exaggeration. Stupid journalists with their fancy articles and blogs! It does seem appropriate, though. Miami Horror may not be obsessed, but their skilled use of synth, along with their Disco influence, is what separates them from the crowd. A lot of other bands have a strong synth. A lot of other bands use elements made popular by Disco. But I have never heard a band that combines those two discrete pieces so well.

Check out our interview with Miami Horror below. Once you’re done with that, please enjoy the official music video for “Holidays,” Miami Horror’s new single from the album Illumination.