Washed Out’s Ernest Greene didn’t need any help to accurately render his sample-heavy songs at DC9 on Thursday night. What he did need help with was stage presence. After all, there are few things less engaging than a dude crouched over a table full of samplers and effects pedals. So Greene wisely kept his solo set short, ceding the stage to his tour mates, the groove-heavy synth-pop act Small Black. After a set’s worth of Small Black songs, Greene jumped back on stage and performed a few more Washed Out numbers with Small Black acting as his backing band. With the benefit of a real rhythm section and the stage show that a full band affords, Greene’s technicolor jams proved difficult to resist. It should speak volumes that by the end of the night, the room had turned into a sweat-soaked dance party, a rare occurrence in a town known better for—in the immortal words of the Dismemberment Plan—“doing the standing still”.
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When playing Patrick & Eugene’s debut album for the first time, get ready to raise some eyebrows. It starts with a simple ukelele melody, followed by some sweet vocals, then a thumping dance beat, a horn section, and next thing you know ... you’re probably dancing to it (and that’s all before the saxophones and whistles come in).
Yes, Patrick & Eugene’s style is a bit off-beat, but the UK band makes no apologies for their relentlessly optimistic music, and this might explain why the duo has done as well as they have, with their debut album Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees receiving all sorts of raves while the track “The Birds and the Bees” has been spotted in a national VW ad. Toss in a cover of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” that wouldn’t sound too out of place on the Borat soundtrack and some ridiculously playful live shows, and you the recipe for something genuinely special.
Now, the one and only Eugene Bezoids takes part in PopMatters’ 20 Questions feature, discussing how good he’d look in an ellipsis, why setting Patrick’s hair on fire may or may not be part of a magic trick, and his unabashed love for ... cider.
Sometimes, the old ways are better. No matter how fancy and fresh feeling the new approach is, the original format often holds a magic untapped and unappreciated by those now enamored of the update. That’s what’s happened with computer generated animation. When it first hit the family film artform, many thought it a clever cartoon complement. A decade later, and it’s completely taken over the genre, moving the formative pen and ink version of the craft to the back burner. Even pioneer Disney dropped 2D after the less than impressive returns for their 2004 effort, Home on the Range.
A lot has happened in the five years since. Pixar, once just an arm of the House of Mouse, is now an official member of Walt’s inner circle. John Lasseter, the man behind Toy Story and other massive hits for the company has been placed in charge of Disney’s animation division - and one of his first tasks as a newly appointed head was to reinvest in hand drawn cartooning. Over the last few years, Lasseter has brought Mickey’s men back to prominence, promising something very special with the release of his first attempt at bringing back the company’s prior glory. With the fabulous Princess and the Frog (now available on DVD and Blu-ray), he succeeds royally.
No wind, rain, or winter’s cold could stop Dionne Farris from making a rare Brooklyn appearance while New York City plowed itself out of one of the most crippling storms in recent memory. The BAAS Group had invited the Atlanta-based artist to appear at Galapagos Art Space, situated a few yards from some of D.U.M.B.O.‘s most breathtaking lower-Manhattan views.
Following an introduction by BAAS Group co-founder Troy Saunders, Farris sauntered up the stage-left steps to vociferous fanfare from the audience. She opened with her signature song, “I Know”, which emphasized the ageless qualities in her voice. Her pitch-perfect phrasing, in fact, could have been mistaken for the original recording. “Passion”, a track from her 1994 debut, Wild Seed-Wild Flower (1994), also sounded fresh and far younger than its 15 years. Farris stepped into the groove of the song, accentuating the rhythm of the words with a serpentine body movement and piercing the air with her fist during the song’s voltaic guitar riff.
After a year of prepping it and bugging my editor, I finally got my Rock and Roll Hall of Fame piece in the Village Voice. I had 1000 words to play with so I could cram in as many ideas as I liked, including some inside info from the people there and some thoughts from detractors to give it balance. I was pretty happy with the end result, especially as I had to write most of it up in less than two weeks time even though I had some general notes going back to 2008 and recently did about 7-8 interviews to get as much info as I could from sources. I hated the whole idea of the HOF for a while but softened a bit when I visited it years ago and later realized that it’s something you can rant against but it won’t disappear. Also, it’s been around for over two and a half decades itself so it’s at least worth pondering.
Even so, I wished I had more time to actually speak to some musicians about the HOF- not just soon-to-be inductees but also past ones and some who hadn’t made it. Another thing that I only thought about later is that I found out (off the record) that the HOF nominating committee has several sub-committees for rap, art rock, etc.. so that the art-rock group boosted Genesis and the rap group boosted a certain TV star who didn’t make the cut this time. Some committee members also admitted that they were kind of surprised that some performers who were highly boosted in their meetings got shot down in the general vote of 500 or so writers, former inductees and others who have final say over who gets in. As I mentioned in the piece, many committee members don’t even know who these people are (other than former inductees).
Another thing occurred to me about the article. I’d been writing for the Village Voice for over 13 years but this was the first time that one of my articles was the main piece in the music section. I was pretty proud of that but it also made me wonder why that was. I figured out the main reason pretty quickly though. Just like in my zine, I like to champion acts that don’t get lots of recognition. I understand that isn’t lead story material and as such, I can’t fault my editors for that but it also makes me wonder if I should turn my attention to stories like the HOF or bigger acts more often when I have something worthwhile to say (like I do sometimes at PopMatters). Not that I’d give up on cult artists to write about- I’ll also have a soft spot for them, not to mention the feeling of camaraderie in the kind of work that I do.