Maddy Cristall

Why Criticizing Coachella Is Useless

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Beautiful people somehow managing to have fun

Coachella; a term that may immediately create images of trendy cultural misappropriation,trust fund kids trying to desperately spot celebrities and a sea of people who generally contradict the foundation of music festivals. Coachella may also make one think of the first major festival of the year where an eclectic mix of the world’s most successful recording artists perform to countless beautiful people in ideal desert weather.

The incredibly popular two-weekend festival is less than a month away which is when an abundance of articles are released addressing how terrible the whole damn thing is. Meanwhile, it is common that prior to the event, festivalgoers lounge in Palm Springs or L.A meeting Vince Staples and SZA by the Poolside. Coachella is geared towards the wealthy, lucky and stereotypically gorgeous people of the world.

The countless articles bashing Coachella mainly address A) How the festival focuses too much on fashion B) How the festival is made up of terrible people and C) The ridiculousness of celebrity spotting. The irony here is that these articles are generated from alternative or independent magazines and generally aimed towards a demographic that is disinterested in attending Coachella to begin with. Additionally, these articles and discussions that revolve around them just perpetuate these topics thus making them even larger spectacles for even more useless reasons. Lastly, and mostly importantly this is removing the festival even further away from music which is essentially the only real problem happening here.

Indie magazines addressing these issues is essentially the same thing as the unpopular kids making fun of the popular kids in high school. The popular kids remain unaffected and the unpopular kids remain pasty. The people attending Coachella are having the time of their lives and generally unconcerned towards what kind of global impact they are making by being there. They have spent a large sum of money to live a temporary elitist lifestyle.

Once we start exclusively criticizing music festivals they are over, the excitement dries up and the music suffers which only proves we are mere victims not pioneers of subcultures. If you don’t like the cultural significance of Coachella, don’t go-they will continue to wildly succeed and there is a likely festival out there that is perfectly suited for you. There is no significant outcome that derives from excessively exhibiting why we don’t like something in a medium as inconsequential as social media. So, let’s all relax about Coachella and focus on things we can actually change and enjoy because this V.I.P party in the desert isn’t one of them.

 

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Young Guns

 

The most unreasonably talented kids currently ruling the music industry

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Archy Marshall A.K.A King Krule is a 20 year old English genre bending, gut wrenching, soul-soothing multi-instrumentalist. He has had an admitted difficult childhood and found salvation through music. His sound crosses various genres; his voice is unmistakable and his music in wonderfully indescribable. His lyrics are drenched in pain and poetry, he slays the guitar and generates transcending Trip Hop beats. His thick British accent, gruff yet exquisite singing and unlawfulness make his music addictive and refreshingly raw.

 Willow Smith

Willow Smith is the offspring of Will and Jada Smith, whom you may have heard of. Yes, she comes from two wildly famous individuals who are extremely wealthy and supportive, but that’s not why she’s as powerful as she is. Smith is 15 years old, has a beautiful-soulful voice and sings about subjects that are beyond her years. She is enlightened, well spoken and a natural interviewee. She seems free from youthful discomfort and spite. Some may say that anyone who comes from that much money is bound to sound flawless due to expensive production and industry hook-ups, however the same argument could be made about Kelly Osborne. She is signed on her mentor Jay Z’s record label:Roc Nation, she has several hits under her tiny belt and owns her own organization that raises funds for Zambian children with AIDS. With her molasses infused voice, enigmatically mature attitude and fresh approach; Willow Smith is the real deal.

 Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper is the 21-year-old Hip Hop Artist out of Chicago. Chance intermingles Dirty South, Backpack Rap and mainstream hooks. He is a conscious artist with a silver tongue who has found a way to properly express his exuberant spirit. His music is grimy, vibrant and fun which is such a satisfying combination in contemporary Hip Hop. Chance is an exhilarating performer, spoken word poet and successful recording artist. Chance has released five impressive albums, tours across the globe and remains unabashed, which is notable for anyone, let alone someone who just became legal.

Earl Sweatshirt

 Earl Sweatshirt is an extraordinary young man, which I state with complete sincerity. Earl Sweatshirt is a 21-year-old rapper in the innovative group “Odd Future” and has a significant solo career. Earl Sweatshirts’ presence in Odd Future is often overshadowed by front man and best friend Tyler the Creator who is equally as impressive, however Tyler receives eons of recognition beyond Earl. Earl Sweatshirt has a profound, dark and perfectly uncomfortable approach to rap offering a certain zeal to the unique nature of Odd Future. His solo work consists of three albums with various collaborations most notably with Vince Staples and RZA. His father also happens to be “Bra Willie” a prominent South African poet and political activist- so strong genes are on his side. His music videos are avant-garde, his performances are ruthless and his delivery is completely unmistakable. His voice is thick and his lyrics are packed with torture and hysteria. However, despite his alluring darkness, there is something so sweet and whimsical about the boy, which is an amazing anomaly that few have achieved.

 Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg is the 21-year-old (something about 1994 made for some talented spawn) English singer-songwriter who truly embodies the best part about the late 60’s and early 70’s. Bugg is noticably influenced by Donovan, Johnny Cash and The Jam. He is a wise and talented musician, bringing back adored sounds without damaging them. I hesitate to label Bugg as a “throwback musician” as his sound is unique, yet it certainly borrows from a series of genres that were once more active. Bugg is reminding our modern society what is so special about Folk Tales, Alternative Country and Brit-Pop. Out with two albums and one shortly on the way Jake Bugg is here to remind us what’s up.

Some may feel concerned about the cutthroat, broke, and potentially artless nature of modern society. The good news is that music is immortal, constantly evolving and here to remind us that the kids are beyond alright.

The unlikely association of Courtney Love, Allen Ginsberg and David Lynch (with guests)

 

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What do Courtney Love, Devendra Banhart and Lucinda Williams have in common? Seemingly, not a whole lot, except that they will all be performing at the 60th Anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. Yes, this is a wonderful mash up of eclectic people, but it gets even better, all the proceeds are going to the David Lynch’s Foundation of Transcendental Meditation. Yes, the specific brand of esotericism happening here is thrilling but there’s more…Kevin Drew, Amy Poehler and Tim Robbins will be speaking, along with many other’s including a promising special guest who at this point could very well be a Tupac or a Unicorn.

This event becomes even juicier once it is fully decompressed so please allow me to squeeze this lemon. Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl is considered to be one of the most controversial pieces of literature of all time.The poem was written in 1955, which was subsequently banned upon its release cross culturally and taken to court in an “obscenity trial.” Shortly after the poem was released Lawrence Ferlinghetti was arrested for publishing Howl as was Shig Murao for carrying the poem at his bookstore in San Francisco. Eventually, freedom of speech and progression amongst literature dominated this tense time and Howl became one of the most significant poems in history. It has been wildly published, heavily analyzed and questionably interpreted (revert to James Franco).

The headliners for this event are by no means strangers to controversy and irritating media redouble. The David Lynch Foundation is a global charitable organization that is focused on assisting people dealing with difficulties through Transcendental Mediation (TM). The groundbreaking director speaks of his life being transformed by TM and has practiced it since 1973. The foundation is aimed specifically towards youth at risk, victims of abuse, prisoners, African war refugees and the homeless.

Everyone involved for this enticing event is in some way;innovative, brave and at times misunderstood-much like the poem itself (despite some of Ms. Love’s decisions).This benefit initially may seem like a sporadic medley of unparalleled people, however I can’t think of a better group, for a better anniversary, for a better cause. This luring soiree takes place at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on April 7.

 

Dino Archie-Choosy Lover

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Photo by Leigh Righton

Dino Archie is the charismatic, hilarious and fresh comic that resides in Vancouver. Originally from Fresno, California Archie is now one of our local marvels. Although stand up comedy is alive and well, it still happens to take something of a backseat to the vast depths of music, film and food in Vancouver. This makes comedy extravagant and unique to experience in this city. What’s great and possibly unknown is that there is some excellent comedians frequently performing in Vancouver. Dino Archie is definitely the cream of the crop and dominating the comedy scene. His talent is certainly recognized as he has a weekly spot headlining at the comedy mix, preforms often at the Electric Owl and Fox Cabaret and tours frequently.

Archie is special as he unabashed, hilarious, charismatic and inclusive. He invites the audience to walk through a series of thoughts and stories with him that all share a certain quality of sincerity and normalcy. He discusses what we are currently experiencing in our social culture and how ridiculous it all is but funny as hell if we let it be. Archie plays with the doomed modern age of dating, our communal broken economic stature and impractical ideologies he has once played with.

His timing, inclusivity and ease on stage is easy to just fall into and laugh into oblivion while consistently nodding your head in recognition of the sheer truth of it all.Out with his first album “Choosy Lover,”  (produced by Kevvy) which is available on itunes and touring with new goofs,Archie is definitely someone to watch.

Must see’s of March (A title that didn’t necessarily take long)

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Daniel Lanois March 4th-The Commodore Ballroom

Producer extraordinaire and impressive musician to boot is an unstoppable music phenomenon. He has been in the industry for countless years and has produced some of the most successful albums of all time including Bob Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind (In which we made the amazing musician sound even better) and U2’s Joshua Tree (in which he made the band sound beyond tolerable). He has worked extensively with Neil Young, Phil Collins and Emmylou Harris just to name a few. Lanois collaborates with Brian Eno extensively and the two have challenged and elevated music history.

Lanois’ musician work is extensive and dignified, not to mention multifaceted which is truly something to be respected. He plays in a band titled “Black Dub” with the impressive Trixie Whitley, Brian Blade and Daryl Johnson. His solo projects are delicate, refined and at times transcending. He speaks various musical languages fluently and invites a dialogue with listeners. Originally from Ancaster, Ontario, one of Canada’s best is on a national tour that is guaranteed to blow some national minds

Nickleback Rogers Arena March 15th

…Just kidding.

Amanda Palmer at the Vogue March 18th

Amanda Palmer, currently a solo musician previously from the Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn is like no other. She encompasses what is wonderful and unique about the nomadic, passionate and ruthless woman. Her music is a combination of storytelling, performance art and good ol rock and roll. Her performances are experiences, each one perpetually evolved from the previous. Additionally, she is an avid public speaker, beholding the notably viral Ted Talk on “ The Art Of Asking”. She is smart, authentic and unpredictable and I’m brimming with excitement towards of what she might do next.

The Cave Singers and Kathryn Calder March 20th at the Rickshaw

The Cave singers are a three-piece band from Seattle, Washington; each member is previously from other excellent music projects. Formerly on Matador Records and currently Jagjaguwar the three fellas have refined a distinctive and punctuated sound. They create haunting lullabies, unpretentious rock and roll and the occasional folk tale.

Kathryn Calder is one of the New Pornographers and a lovely solo musician. Her heart wrenching songs drip with humility and honesty. I believe this evening will break you into tiny little pieces then gently put you back together.

Punch Brothers March 25th at the Vogue

It’s almost difficult to write a paragraph about the musical marvels we know as the Punch Brothers, what truly is difficult is digesting that not everyone in the world knows who they are. However, the Punch Brothers are a five-piece “progressive bluegrass” band from New York signed with Nonesuch records. Each member is an individual prodigy at their instrument, which is essentially how they all found one another. They are a phenomenal, genre bending, gut wrenching, mind-bending group that constantly evolves. They’re on tour with their fifth album titled “Phosphorescent Blues” which is arguably their best yet. Their live performances are wonderful experiences in which the audience is paralyzed by their unbelievable aptitude.

Humans at Celebrities March 28th at the Rickshaw

Humans are a local duo made of up Peter Ricq and Robbie Slade. The two create exciting and spirited Indie Electro Pop that usually directs a sloppy dance party. However, the two know what they’re doing and are void of relying on computer software programs to create the illusion of a beat being dropped. They are musicians that have contemplated dance music with precision, which makes for a more mindful sloppy dance party.

Made in China-A transcending Dance Production.

Something wonderful happens when four people with diverse talents somehow find one another in this massive world and collaborate. Made in China is an excellent portrayal of the power of the quad. Presented by the lovely Firehall Arts Centre,The Wen Wei Dance production is two dancers-Sammy Chein and Wen Wei Wang,graphic designer/filmmaker Gao Yanijnzi and multifaceted musician Qui Xia He.Each individual provides a significant bounty of distinctive talent that compliment one another gracefully.The one hour performance is an interpretive dance piece that integrates the multi media power of a projector which was operated flawlessly. Various classic Chinese instruments were played beautifully while the two dancers moved with passion and detail.The work was described by the artists as a “improvised narrative” which left the audience the freedom to design their own story within the abstract and therapeutic piece that altered the senses.Not a minute too short or long,Made in China refreshes theatre goers,reminding us again how infinite the imagination and human body is.

The problem with the term “World Music”

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We now take liberties to  judge, consume and label music in a rapid fashion. This liberty is mostly a product of our extensively fast paced world filled with precipitous hits of You Tube videos to distinguish our opinion of musicians. With this contemporary state of prompt audio consumption it is hard to believe we still have archaic terms floating around in the sea of the music industry.

To begin, the idea that music from any developing country should be stamped simply as “World Music” is both vague and racist. In fact the original description of the term is “Non- Western musical traditions” which can easily translate to “ music we don’t understand” or “I love shotguns and beer and Africa is weird”. Secondly this genre title wasn’t a conclusive decision of any of the musicians contributing to it, it was named by one white male in Connecticut in the sixties. However, it remains to be a promoted and quasi-musical term. To be more specific I recently visited a metropolitan record store and in the dusty corner I saw the phantom banner to “World Music” I looked through this under appreciated section and found the following artists…

Spoek Mathambo– A cutting edge young South African artist who covered Joy Divisions “Control” in a progressive and authentic manor, he is a style icon and contemporary Adonis. He is a rapper, electronic artist and a singer songwriter.

Tom Ze– A Brazilian legend who contributed greatly to the Tropicalia movement, worked with David Byrne, excels at several instruments and has composed over 20 albums that sold millions. His Music is Bossa Nova, Somba and Brazilian folk.

The Buena Vista Social Club– The most successful Cuban band in history who are widely recognized cross globally, worked with Ry Cooder and the subject of a outrageously popular documentary as they were the first Cuban band to perform in America and did so at Carnegie Hall so less. They are folk, Ramba and son band.

M.I.A– Really record store?

If these eclectic and vastly different artists can share the same half off bin, why can’t we just homogenize Katy Perry with Black Flag, they are even from the same God Damn country! However I don’t see Shakira, Ricky Martin or Selena in there, so if you are an untalented suck signed by a huge record label you get to override this generalizing trademark.

Additionally a brand named “Putomayo” releases C.D’s you can often find at Chapters, Global Village or other overpriced stores that market something that was originally lovely. These C.D’s have generalizing titles such as “ African Dreamland”, “A Jewish Odyssey” or “Cowboy Playground”. Their office is smack dap in the financial district of New York city and they call themselves a “label” but haven’t signed a soul. They find music that slightly resembles their idea of a culture, put in on their compilations and donate a small portion of their cheap to make C.D’s to huge charitable organizations around the world.

Why does it matter? If we can pay for coffees by scanning our phones, speak to people in real time through a computer screen and instagram our grilled cheese sandwiches we can take the time to learn the proper titles of the music hardworking artist make.

The Devil Makes Three at the Commodore Feb 6

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The Devil Makes are a three-piece ensemble from Santa Cruz, California. Their music is old time whiskey infused bluegrass with rockabilly garnish and punk rock gravy. Although, they are a contemporary band who formed in 2002, they have created a loyal cult following and their songs are like anthems to the beautiful rejects. Going to their concerts is much like the imagery created in the Who’s 1973 album “Quadrophenia”. There is a noticeable divide of folks who have conflicting ideologies but somehow find themselves in the same place, on the same night. Their music is fun and accessible yet contains complex layers of diverse genres; it all comes smoothly in a trio that sweats out composition and havoc.

Their generous performance at the Commodore was an excellent series of anthems, fresh songs and classics. The power of a distinctive band with loyal fans is endless. The Devil Makes Three is paramount in the world of contemporary bands with cult followings, the merchandise tables were packed and people sang along to all their songs in reckless abandon. They are wild yet refined and completely immersed themselves in this performance. They were covered in sweat and the dew of their passion and didn’t miss a note. This was the perfectly suited live soundtrack to the chaos and splendour of Friday night.

February’s Finest

 

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 Vancouver in February

February in Vancouver, those three words somehow have less zest than “April In Paris”, lets change that-shall we? Here we have a short month that is generous with rain yet frugal on days. It’s not quite winter and it’s not quite spring; if February were a day in the week it would be Wednesday. St. Valentine’s gives it a certain tone, which typically perpetuates disappointment and loneliness, as there is no way to meet the expectations of an unnecessary holiday created by capitalists. However, music  remains alive and well as these 28 solemn days are seeping with performances waiting for you to witness.I now present a list of concert I suggest you find yourself at.

The Devil Makes Three- The Commodore Ballroom- Feb 6

The Devil Makes are a three-piece ensemble from Santa Cruz, California. Their music is old time whiskey infused bluegrass with a rockabilly garnish and punk rock gravy. Although, they are a contemporary band that formed in 2002, they have created a loyal cult following and their songs are like anthems to the beautiful rejects. Going to their concerts is much like the imagery created in the Who’s 1973 album “Quadrophenia.” There is a noticeable divide of folks who have conflicting ideologies but somehow find themselves in the same place, on the same night, enjoying the same music but somehow remain fundamentally divided. It’s quite entertaining to witness and the band’s performance is excellent too. Their music is fun and accessible yet contains complex layers of diverse genres. This all exudes smoothly from a  trio that sweats out composition and havoc.

Ariel Pink-The Rickshaw- Feb 11

Despite Ariel Pink being a questionable person there is something distinctively fascinating about him. He embodies that person we all know who dresses exuberantly, creates esoteric art and isn’t particularly benevolent yet their approval means everything to us, or am I the only who experiences that? Ariel Pink, is an L.A Based musician who has been around since the mid-nineties, although his most recent album “Pom Pom” reached the greatest success to date and put him on the international music map. His music is a low-fi, avant-garde, psychedelic and cassette culture inspired journey. Although this journey is eccentric and at times unfriendly you just want to get invited along.

Lucinda Williams- The Vogue- Feb 12

She is a heroine amongst women, she is the real deal, she is dark yet sweet, she wails like a broken angel, she makes you crumble then puts you back together- she is Lucinda Williams. On tour with her 12th album “ Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” which, like every single album before, is an astonishing piece of bluesy folk music that breaks your heart in all the right places. She is an exceptional performer, ever evolving before your eyes. Her band is like a machine that turns her folky lullabies into rock and roll masterpieces. Each concert of hers I have witnessed is perpetually stronger, she moves forward while freezing you in your seat while you are filled with chills.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones- The Rickshaw – Feb 19

You really don’t want to miss this, although if you don’t already have tickets you may have to as this concert sold out in a day. Originally they were to perform at the Electric Owl, however the tiny venue would melt from the fire ignited in us all from this performance, so now we can burn down the house at the spacious Rickshaw.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones are a seven piece Alabama based ensemble that formed in 2012. They are a contemporary soul band with so much goddamn soul, which is hard to come by this day in age. Lead Singer Paul Janeway has one of the strongest voices around, he appears possessed by Mo-Town gods when he sings, ruling the audience in this Sacred Communion. The band is a flawless arrangement of otherworldly musicians. It’s beautiful, non-pretentious music that elevates the spirit.

The Church-The Rio-Feb 21

The Church is an Australian four piece that formed in the 80’s and they are everything enchanted about new wave music. Certain bands get tragically lost in history yet contain all the elements that could declare them timeless, the Church are one of those bands. The Church are similar to Joy Division, The Smiths and New Order yet completely authentic and the strongest of the bunch in my oh so humble opinion. They paint imagery of an 80’s film score, dancing to a jukebox in the middle of a desolate bar in Seattle and falling in love over mix-tapes all at once. The best part is that they haven’t stopped making music since 1981 and maintain the beauty of new wave music in an EDM world.

I say we take back February and make it the new July! Happy February, we finally made it, maybe someone will even write a timeless jazz song about it.

Beacon at the Electric Owl

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Brooklyn based duo Beacon brought their equally soothing and methodical sounds to the Electric Owl. The two gentlemen are refreshingly dialled into their distinctive sound that crosses genres and appeals to a variety of listeners. Although they incorporate predominately electronic music tools they don’t necessarily sound like an electronic music band. Their work is mature and undoubtably musical, they illuminate their sound through modern equipment but what truly stands out is Thom Mullarney’s  haunting voice that is delicate yet powerful and Jacob Gosett’s multi-instrumental technique. They two met in art school, write their own songs and work flawlessly together. The concert made their chemistry powerfully evident, their music emanated out of their bodies  effortlessly and the whole show looked like performance art. They integrate heavy bass, R&B, jazz and electronica, this particular recipe made for a sexy, bountiful and evocative performance that translates just as well on recordings.