Last updated by at .

May 212010

Legendary Levon Helm at JazzFest 2010 by FRENCHY

Beyond the stellar line-up of performances, this year’s New Orleans Jazzfest saw the convergence of two colossal talents working in unison to record the magic of the music on canvas. Legendary performance painter and New Orleans mainstay, Frenchy, worked side-by-side with Colorado by-way-of-Orlando artist Kevin “Scramble” Campbell. These 2 artists share a similar style which stirs rumors of bitter rivalry in art circles, but it is quite the contrary. Frenchy and Scramble are long-time colleagues and friends and they worked in concert throughout the entire festival to collectively produce nearly 50 paintings that captured the vibe of the festivities.

Frenchy has painted and attended JazzFest since 1988 and in 2010 had his first opportunity to actually work on stage and add to the overall performance of Trombone Shorty and another native Nawlins band, The Radiators. Among many others, Frenchy was able to paint jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and rock titans, Pearl Jam. You can see all the Jazzfest collection from Frenchy at his Oak Street gallery or Online.

Scramble Campbell was also painting at an astonishing rate for the duration of the festival. Inspiration seemed to be in abundance as the two artists produced a prolific run of paintings. Throughout the festival, Scramble displayed his artwork at Frenchy’s New Orleans gallery. Scramble’s works from the festival can be seen and purchased on his website.

In the impromptu spirit of jazz, legendary Grateful Dead drummer, Bill Kreutzman popped his head in Frenchy’s Oak Street gallery to say hello to his close friend. Before he left, the casual visit evolved into a collaboration with Frenchy and Scramble to seize the essence of the festival on canvas. Together they danced and grooved to the Dead’s 1973 classic “Eyes of the World” all while dousing and splaying paint in a stream-of-conscious frenzy of inspiration and improvisation. Like jazz masters, Frenchy and Scramble weave their visual notes of shape and color in and out of each other while Kreutzman adds rhythm and texture with his paint soaked mallets. This was a stunning confluence of thought, expression, talent, creativity, and chance, which sums up this storied city and whimsical event.

Frenchy, Scramble Campbell, and The Dead’s Bill Kreutzman collaborate for JazzFest

Written for Frenchy Live and JamBase

May 182010

jarring good melodies

I had no idea a bunch of synthesizers, drum machines (an occasional real kit), a good female lead, and one giant guitar could be so fun. Brooklyn duo, Sleigh Bells, pounding, screeching, infectiously delicious noise pop explodes on their debut album, Treats. Songs like “Riot Rhythm” and “Kids” sound like anthemic Le Tigre singalongs played through Sonic Youth’s guitar rig in the back of a school bus … that’s slamming broadside into the side of a mountain. Piles of sound, which independently and without the shape of melody could easily be nerve racking, come together in a hard-edged and fierce pop attack.

Alexis Krauss’s sweet yet pummeling vocals sing velvet-y calls to action along with grinding distorted guitar and sub-woofer testing bass drops on “Infinity Guitars.” “Run the Heart” offers the same signature vocals with slammin’ bass worthy of the hardest booty club swirled up in a haze of guitar effects and more synth that seems closer to house music than indie rock. A pervasive feeling of bittersweet sentiment carries the Leiber-and-Stoller-songwriting-meets-the-Flaming-Lips-production of “Rill Rill.” The first single, “Crown on the Ground,” basically encapsulates the feel of the album. It defines noise pop ‚ a series of distorted sounds, muffled melodies, and other various, squealing, moving parts that, in the wrong hands, could cause serious damage.

Treats ties the low-fi, the squelching and buzzing, and yes, one big, fat, loud guitar together rather nicely. The entire album walks a very fine and precarious line between innovation and noisy repetition, but saunters away victorious. I’m just not sure how Sleigh Bells could follow this up …

Written for REAX Online 5.16.2010

May 172010
Groove it daddy-o, to this far-out retro treat

Groove it daddy-o, to this far-out retro treat

I don’t know much about this band other than one of the guys on SIRIUS XMU’s Blog Radio started a record label (a dubious undertaking these days) and Cults is one of the bands – another indie duo actually. If you pop their name in a search engine, you better add “the band” or “music” or you will find everything except this group. This song is infectious and bubblegum at the surface, but a deeper listen reveals the song is sort of the musical interpretation of a desperate plea for a friend to end their depression.

[media id=41]

Download their 7″ for FREE

May 122010

The Black Keys_Brothers_kissesandnoise.comI recently took a jab at Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for remaining comfortably in the retro, DIY, garage pocket they helped to define, but surmised that since they do it so well it might not be such a bad thing. Another group that could easily follow the same path is The Black Keys. To the contrary, the Akron duo redefine themselves, expanding beyond the minimalist hipster rock they thrive on. The new album, Brothers, is an eclectic blend of blues, soulful pop, rock, and late Motown. The time spent on their Blakroc project steeped them in hip hop and R&B and seems to have left a lasting impression.

From the sizzling lilt of the opener “Everlasting Light” to the Danger Mouse produced soul / rock masterpiece “Tighten Up” through to the grinding “Sinister Kid,” Brothers delivers 15 independent, creative, and strong stand-alone tracks. Every song possesses the blues infused garage rock of the Keys in its DNA, but each is touched and invigorated by a gamut of pop music influences. Brothers has every indication of a band with strong songwriting and delivery, but hints at a grander notion – a dynamic, evolving musical presence with real staying power.

Written for REAX Online 5.11.2010

May 042010

Aw man, my favorite mixtape!

You may ask yourself, “Where is that large automobile?” No, really – you may ask yourself, “What the fuck is chill wave?” Well some may call it a breakthrough new trend in the world of rock music while I would call it a nifty sub-genre of a sub-genre (Rock>Alt Rock>Indie Rock>Chill Wave). Either way, there are some interesting artists putting out interesting iterations of pop music, like Toro y Moi, Washed Out, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti, and Neon Indian. While I don’t think this is groundbreaking shit here, it deserves some attention. This is “Terminally Chill” from Neon Indian and I like it because there is good pop song – one that sounds strikingly like Steely Dan (maybe I’m crazy) – underneath muffled waves of synth and production. It almost continues the vibe that indie delivers – I’m too cool to write a straight-up pop song. Whatev.

[media id=40]