Mixtape Monday: Tape 5, Side A – “Slipping and Tripping in a Foggy Twilight Western”

 

Mixtape Mondays are back my friends and forced acquaintances. Mixtape 5 starts off with Side A, themed “Slipping and Tripping in a Foggy Twilight Western”. For when you’re driving down the interstate at 3 in the morning on a rainy night and start to lose track of time. Enjoy.

Tame Impala – Currents (First Listen from NPR)

by The Insomniac

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http://www.npr.org/player/embed/420832435/421813915

NPR’s First Listen has gotten its hands on Tame Impala’s new album Currents out this Friday on Modular. At first glance, it’ll surprise you as it’s nothing we’ve really heard before from Kevin Parker. The taste of electric guitar from lead track “Let It Happen” remains just that – this time the Aussie artist conveys his obsession of sound, solitude, and mental resolution through synth-laden pop and shiny R&B glam that invoke a feeling 20 years after the 60’s psych rock they’ve become known for.

Check it out and form your own opinion – this one will take a few listens. Enjoy.

The Best of Bonnaroo 2015: #1 – Flying Lotus

By The Insomniac

Topping our list of best acts of Bonnaroo is none other than Steven Ellison, AKA Flying Lotus, who battled it out with other electronic acts to draw the late night crowd on Friday night going into the weekend.

Setting up in front of his massive projector screen and behind a second more opaque white screen as has been the setup of his live performances this year, Flylo took the stage armed with a creepy mask, maybe his shot at wacky headgear with EDM powerhouse Deadmau5 playing at the same time across the field. Before the music started and the lights on the screen in front and in back of him came to life, the only shapes you could make out were the glowing enlarged eyes on his mask and the Apple logo on his Mac as he readied the show.

This wasn’t certainly the loudest show we saw, and not even close to the biggest crowd, but the anticipation was like no other. As soon as his show started, he completely melted the already scorched crowd with his churning, mechanical, haunting beats. The screens gave birth to the most intricate light show I’ve ever seen with morphing shapes, human figures, snapshots of nature, and even a rotating skull. It was a sort of dream sequence set to the beat of his music, a truly vivid lucidity that felt almost unsettling as it seemed to engulf you with it’s presence. Compared with Bassnectar’s visuals which were merely highly contrasted, kaleidoscoping colors with no real shape at all, Flylo’s images were delicate and told a very slow story to the high paced percussion he is known for in the backbone of the meandering melancholy within his tracks. Going back and forth between crowd favorites like “Zodiac Shit”, new tracks from his recent LP You’re Dead!, and even stepping out from behind his laptop to rap for the crowd, every second had the audience captivated.

His music is maddening and penetrating in some sort of carnal way – a sound perfect for the psychotic and relentless neon wasteland Bonnaroo became by this point. At one point Lotus grabbed a totem from the crowd with a severed doll head attached to the top, and peered out into the crowd in utter disbelief. “What the fuck is this?” he asked, only to be hit with a roar of laughter and cheers – the type of response you’d expect from a mental patient who escaped from the asylum, what I consider to be an accurate description of the gorgeously devolved groupthink crowds at Bonnaroo embodied by this time of night. Smiling, he let the inanimate head “lipsync” to the song playing in the background, and, seemingly impressed with the head’s performance, began to kiss the totem in an Oscar-worthy display of lust. For me, this sums up the festival. The weirdest of the weird, contorting our bodies to primal drums and exhausting, mind-searing synth melodies, and losing ourselves completely, all while the dancing masked man on the platform above us makes out with his follower’s bloody war pike. Insanity. To say the least it was a hell of a show, and it wiped out any remaining doubt in coming back next year. Let’s see if we can top it next go-around.

The Best of Bonnaroo 2015: #2 – The Growlers

by The Insomniac

#2 on our Bonnaroo countdown of best acts easily goes to The Growlers – a set we really only saw half of while wandering around lost in the crowd. These guys were low on my list of must-see’s as I had been a casual listener of their most recent LP Chinese Fountain going into the festival. That changed after seeing their show and now I can’t stop listening to everything they’ve released.

There’s a warmth behind their music that sometimes get lost in the cold precision and targeted perfection of studio recording that was much more apparent seeing the band live and unaltered. Stumbling upon their show was my favorite mistake of Bonnaroo. No one would describe The Growler’s music as dance music, but compared to the other indie acts of the day, the band’s performance had every single person in the audience moving to their bluesy beach grooves, even in the back where most of the stoic onlookers usually congregate and hide.

The Growlers are a 5-piece band from California with an ever changing lineup. Describing their sound is difficult. It seems cheerful at first, but there’s this steady, overcast melancholy that tickles your subconscious throughout all their songs. It can’t be ignored, even though on the surface you might find yourself smiling and swinging side to side. They’ve been described as “Beach Goth” by others, which angers me due to how perfect it sums The Growlers up and that I didn’t think of it myself. Synthesizers and organs have a twinge of horror as they dance lightly in the background of beach riffs and reverbed lyrics. There’s a haunting sadness that frontman Brooks Nielsen seems to be fighting to sing through with his raspy, crooning, yet piercing vocals. The man seems like a folk singer plucked from a different decade who wanted the ocean on guitar but the moon on the keyboard. Nielsen really is the main attraction here and it’s through him, his lyrics, and his life’s memories that gives life to their music. His tone is monotonous, but he manages to deliver more depth than you’d expect. Nielsen sings like a broken, hopeless romantic swooning on stage, trapped in a troubled past of lost loves and endless nights of longing. You may want to jump up and dance once they’re on, but it’s the veiled pain in The Growler’s music that makes it feel so genuine.

I implore you to pick up a copy of their LP’s Chinese Fountain and Hung at Heart and give it a listen, then see them live to nail them down in your mind forever. Enjoy.

The Best of Bonnaroo 2015: #3 – Bassnectar

by The Insomniac 

The #3 spot for our Best of Bonnaroo writeup goes to electro-juggernaut Bassnectar. Otherwise known as Lorin Ashton, this guy came to split ear drums. His 1am Saturday set on the the Which Stage was probably the loudest experience of the festival, maybe second to the relentless DJ’s at the Kalliope stage (but they deserve their own post entirely).

The set was a powerhouse, to say the least. His roots in metal and hard rock shone through with a veracity through his synthesizer, like always. On the second-biggest stage of the festival, Bassnectar claimed his space by cranking up the speakers way past what his neighboring artists were ready to commit to, resulting in an almost obnoxious invasion of earspace throughout the grounds. Reading reviews from this show on other sites, it’s common to see people berating him for drowning out other acts with his crude “electric garbage”, but I can only presume these sad, bitter people made the wrong choice and didn’t see the show. I love that the bass shook the ground, I love that you couldn’t escape his blearing, crunching dubstep no matter where you were in Centeroo. It was an experience you had to just let engulf you thoroughly and completely.

Watching his light show and dancing to his earthshaking grooves is like God was vomiting flaming rainbows into your eyes. His nightmarish kaleidoscope background served as his swinging watch and was more than enough to cause the crowd to slip into an otherworldly hypnosis. The crowd looked like it was plucked out of Electric Daisy, full of neon shirts, glow sticks, light up swords, pulsating hula hoops, and the most trippy totems you’ve seen in your life. I’m talking flags, warped Nickelodeon characters, Nicolas Cage’s face, sex dolls, and severed heads. Somehow none of that phases you 4 nights into Bonnaroo.

It was certainly a volcanic, mind melting ride and I’m glad I got to surf it. Bassnectar ended his set with an extremely slowed down a cappella version of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze. No music, just a barely recognizable Jimi as the chorus of his song was stretched thin and wide over a dazed crowd. About 30 seconds of silence followed and everyone started to wander off, lost and confused, coming to terms with the show being over, until Ashton, like an excited little kid who could barely hold it in anymore, said “You guys wanna hear one more song?”. We did.