Psychedelicious: A Conversation with L.A. Jeff
By Kevin Hong ’15
Earlier this semester, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nico Schwalbe, guitarist and lead singer of the band L.A. Jeff. We met at Café Gato Rojo to discuss psychedelia, Harvardiana, and miscellanea. The following is a transcription of the parts of our conversation I deemed blog-appropriate. You can hear L.A. Jeff live this Saturday, October 19, 9 pm, at 21 South Street. – Kevin Hong ’15Kevin Hong: Where are you guys from?Nico Schwalbe: I was actually born in L.A., but I grew up in France. Parker is from here, Will is from NorCal, Sam is from England and Saman is from New York, but his family is from Iran. So we’re really from all over the place, which is somewhat unusual since bands so often form in these local microcosms.KH: What was your previous band name?NS: Lunar Volk, which is the name of our EP now.
House of the Mountain Goats
By Natasha Sarna '18
If you listen to their tracks on Spotify, lyrics aside, the Mountain Goats (historically) sound almost exactly like a mixture of those names on the “related artists” list; Neutral Milk Hotel, The Thermals, The Magnetic Fields, Okkervil River, etc. Their sound is cohesive, the music comforting in a way NMH or Beirut are, and not to get personal but they were all I listened to freshman year during my first big depressive episode. The band is, to put it simply, relatable and easy to enjoy- even if and maybe because sometimes it’s all blended together in a folk-jazz-indie kombucha mix. But their tour's House of Blues gig last Monday night (led by front man Darnielle and opened by Mothers) absolutely shattered any expectations I had- and only, somehow, in ways that had me wondering why I don’t listen more.
Jenny O. and The Solars
By Natasha Sarna '18
I’m gonna preface this write-up with a clarification, of sorts; something I’ve been taking for granted but never bothered to articulate (before now). Unless I say otherwise – and it’d take a productive imagination to think up any relevant scenario(s) – these bits are reviewing specific gigs; not the group, band, whatever you want to call it, that’s performing outside of how they present at the gig and how that jives with prior exposure. Before any of the reviews, if I haven’t already, I listen to relevant discographies, but unless I wanna take a God-like stance on “getting” the dynamics of a group from one measly gig (let me assure you I do not, don’t think my rabbi would be down w that anyway) these reviews are just reviews of the gigs they purport to cover. EOM. Having prefaced this then, I have to say that Monday night was not a great gig.
Taking a Dive with Coast Modern and SHAED
By Jason Thong
The night began with The Star-Spangled Banner and a man in a black Morphsuit. The anthem, sung by concertgoer Kayla M. Salmon, was the highlight of an impromptu talent show hosted by Coast Modern, Tuesday night’s headliner in The Sinclair. This goofy, no-stakes “talent show” was the perfect icebreaker that seemed to forewarn the audience, “Don’t take anything you are about to see or hear too seriously.” And there’s nothing serious about Coast Modern. From Los Angeles, Coast Modern is an indie pop band that sounds like they are from Los Angeles. Their music is an amorphous mixture of mischievous energy and dog-day lethargy. To hear this contradiction, listen to a track from their eponymous debut album released last year. The band consists of lead singer Coleman Trapp and guitarist Luke Atlas - who, by the way, was presumably the man in black spandex.
By Natasha Sarna '18
When I got there, late last Thursday night, the Sinclair had an unusually low-key energy. It kind of felt like the Powers That Be had pushed back Twain's stage time (they were opening for Darlingside) to do a late-night sound check, or like the venue had been delaying things with a recorded set list but the speakers had conked out. Even with the low audience hum, it was that quiet, and there was that little energy. And having listened to Twain’s label debut with Keeled Scales (Rare Feeling (2017), more info here) a few times through now, the reality of their live performance was awkward; I had been expecting the coherent, and (occasionally) profoundly listenable sound that defines tracks like "Solar Pilgrim" and "Freed from Doubt," and instead found myself struggling to follow along. I'm sympathetic, though; all it takes is a coffee house experience or two to know that it's really, profoundly hard for acoustic groups to command attention, when that attention isn’t already there.
Boston Calling: The Juice Bar of Music Festivals
By Jovi Tan
By Sean Henson
Electric Forest takes place in a woodland of thousands of years old. Bonnaroo features craftsmen and artisans vending their wares. Coachella is... Coachella. Aspiring to some bohemian or rustic ideal (whether achieved or not), each of these events has its idiosyncratic personality. But Boston Calling is the corporate-sponsored, licensed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life, capitalist cousin of these festivals. It’s as if it was designed in a boardroom at McKinsey—at the 2019 edition of Boston Calling, everything ran smoothly, but after the music ended, the revelers departed without a single distinctive memory of the festival organization itself. Fortunately, Boston Calling gets its music right. This year’s cast was studded in gold—the lineup included indie sweethearts Mitski and Tame Impala; hip-hop superstars Travis Scott and Anderson .
Chain Tripping in Brooklyn
By Babi Oloko
As I look for a comfortable viewing space within the crowd here to see YACHT’s performance at Rough Trade, I am surprised how packed the venue is. Since I discovered YACHT (“Young Americans Challenging High Technology”) in my early teens, the band’s renown has exploded. YACHT has gone from a little-known alternative favorite to a fairly known Grammy-nominated kombucha-drinking-crowd-drawing phenomenon. When I saw the band in January of 2018 in Manhattan on their “Strawberry Moon” tour, the small venue they performed in was maybe halfway full – I was never more than an arm’s length away from frontwoman Claire L. Evans, and she was able to leave the stage and dance through the crowd. Now, YACHT’s audience nearly fills Rough Trade, which has a capacity of 250. I can barely scope out a space by the bar.
Leaving Ghosts Behind: A Conversation with Eric Nam
By Woojin Lim (Guest Contributor)
Interview by Woojin Lim and Celina Hollmichel The following conversation belongs to a series of interviews with Asian artists with international upbringings who have traveled across continents to share their art with audiences in both the East and the West, and sought to bridge the divide between identities and artforms. Their works have served as a powerful testament to Asian representation across the world. Myself a Korean-Canadian, I sit down with these artists to ask about their lives as eager students and inspiring mentors, travelers finding their way around roadblocks, creators of art. We met Eric Nam backstage at the Royale moments before his concert in Boston, one of many venues on his North American tour which were completely sold out. Clad in a flashy orange jacket, Eric sat cross-legged on a rolling chair, smiling at us.
A Pure Yet Political Art: Interview with Sarah Chang
By Woojin Lim (Guest Contributor)
The following conversation belongs to a series of interviews with Asian artists with international upbringings who have traveled across continents to share their art with audiences in both the East and the West, and sought to bridge the divide between identities and artforms. Their works have served as a powerful testament to Asian representation across the world. Myself a Korean-Canadian, I sit down with these artists to ask about their lives as eager students and inspiring mentors, travelers finding their way around roadblocks, creators of art. *** Violinist Sarah Chang has long astounded audiences around the world with her now-signature Romantic flair, technical precision, and full-arm bow flourishes. At the age of six, Chang started lessons at the Juilliard School, from when the title of ‘child prodigy’ followed her to her debut with the New York Philharmonic at age eight and her first album recording, Debut, at age ten.