News From The Great Beyond: Oh Land

Stephen King, in his novel, The Colorado Kid, wrote, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”  This is especially true in the world of creativity.  It’s like the contestant waiting for the $1.00 to come around on the big wheel of “The Price is Right.” Eventually, it comes back around; the key is whether it stops.  For when it does, big things happen.

Music falls under the same scenario, and disco seems to be a genre no one can kill.  It’s the superhero that continually faces adversity, but somehow comes out on top to defeat the enemy.  For evidence, consider Daft Punk and its Random Access Memory release.  “Get Lucky” was pure disco.  Even the current chart-topping darling, the Mark Ronson-Bruno Mars hit “Uptown Funk” takes its cue from disco.

One such person who is heavily influenced by 80’s disco is Danish singer-songwriter and producer Nanna Øland Fabricius, better known by her stage name Oh Land.  In 2014, Oh Land released the self-produced Earth Sick via Tusk or Tooth/Kobalt Label Service.  Now, comes a remix of the lead single, “Heads Up High,” with the skillful hands and ear of Chris Glover, a/k/a Penguin Passion, manning the board.  This will be part of new package of remixes entitled Heads Up High (The Remixes).

Oh-Land-Earth-Sick-590x590         OhLand_HeadUpHigh_MercuryRemixes

Check out the Mercury remix of “Heads up High” on Soundcloud:

Here is the latest video from the Earth Sick album:

Oh Land – Flags

Twinsmith Interview

Twinsmith will be in Albuquerque, NM, this Tuesday, March 24th, performing at Sister as the opening act for Cursive. They will be previewing new music from their forthcoming album, , on the Saddle Creek label; which, coincidentally, is based in their hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. This will be the first full-length release on Saddle Creek and their second overall. Their self-titled debut was released back in 2013 and, “Honesty,” a 7-inch single, was released on Saddle Creek.

twinsmith_heroTwinsmith is: Jordan Smith (vocals, guitar), Oliver Morgan (drums), Matt Regner (guitar, synths), and Bill Sharp (bass).

Twinsmith will be touring in the eastern half of the US for the majority of March. Before finishing in Wichita, KS, the band will showcase/perform at the SXSW Conference in Austin, TX.

Bassist Bill Sharp recently logged-on to his computer to answer a few questions.

GBMB: This will be your second full-length release.  What were the most important lessons gleaned from the first album that you have implemented in the writing and recording of this album?

BS: We had a different drummer play the drum tracks on the self-titled LP and Matt and Jordan tracked most of the bass parts. I was working a more-than-full-time job when we were recording, so I really see this as the first proper Twinsmith album. This time around, we were all able to contribute in the studio and we all had input throughout the entire process, which resulted in an album that is a lot more dynamic and at the same time feels like a more cohesive work when compared to the self-titled LP.

GBMB: As the release date draws nearer, which do you believe you will experience more of: excitement or anxiety?  How do you believe it will manifest?  What tricks have your learned to overcome and/or calm these emotions?

BS: We’ve been done with the recording of the album for a couple of months now and, I think I can speak for all of us when I say, we’re definitely more excited than anxious about getting these songs out to people in May and seeing how they react to them. We have a lot of fun playing these songs and I really think people are gonna have fun listening to them.

GBMB: Tell me the story/references behind the title “Alligator Years”.

BS: It has a lot of meanings, depending on whom you ask.  I read something that said the average lifespan of an alligator varies based on whether or not they’re in captivity. In the wild, an alligator’s lifespan is about the same as a human. Assuming they don’t die unnaturally, they can live to be 70-115 years old. In captivity, their lifespan is 30-50 years.  It’s a question of which kind of alligator years you want to live: 30-50 guaranteed years of safe, stagnant life? Or would you rather take your chances in the wild, where there’s greater risk, but greater potential?

GBMB: Let’s talk about your producers, Darner and Pettipoole.  What went into the decision to use these two as opposed to, say, self-producing?  What are the advantages/disadvantages to having another voice/ear in the studio?

BS: Luke Pettipoole had expressed interest in wanting to work with us, which sort of got the ball rolling. We were all familiar with his work with his band, The Envy Corps, and he’s a really sweet guy, so it was an easy choice for us to make. Brandon Darner, also of The Envy Corps, was more of a wild card. We knew of his credentials, working with Imagine Dragons and such, but didn’t know him personally. Luckily, he turned out to be a pretty cool guy and an asset in the studio.

As a producer, Luke kind of became the fifth member of the band, which was cool. He would toss out ideas on songs that we’d all sort of hit a wall with, and, then, the four of us would take those ideas and build upon them.  When we would have an idea for a specific sound, but didn’t know exactly how to achieve it, his wealth of technical knowledge took us everywhere we wanted to go, sonically. He was great to have around.

Stream the first track from the forthcoming Alligator Years:

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STUDENT REVIEW: Glitch Mob – Love, Death, Immortality

Glass Air Records

Glitch mob - love death immortalityDo you ever wonder what it would be like to be a super hero in a movie? Well The Glitch Mob’s industrial, electronic sound can only make you imagine how that epic moment when something explodes behind you and you’ve just rescued the girl makes you feel. Originally a five-piece band formed in 2006 in Los Angeles’s bass-driven beat scene and choosing to perform with laptops and MIDI controllers, the group made their name while playing live. They would play solo performances at showcases. That’s where they would gain their fans. By their second full-length album, “Love, Death, Immortality” (released on February, 2014), they had hit number one on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

Their newly released album, “Love, Death, Immortality,” was a huge improvement on their past album and EP. They went from a nice, classical, electronic beat to a cleaner, edgy David Guetta beat. Where it intrigues you though as if it was a sound track of a movie trailer, like in one of their singles, “Within a Dream”. Some of the singles of the new album, “Mind of a Beast” and “Our Demons,” even had some vocals, which they had never done before. Here they have a totally new, renovated sound where not only did they pick up the tempo, but had a catchier, exclusive beat like the ones Calvin Harris would do, while still maintaining their original classical, beat with violins, harp, and more classical instruments.

A few people saw that their dubstep beat is what gets the people going during raves at clubs. The Los Angeles trio has been all around the country paying for the people. I give them a C+. Yes, they have a good beat and tempo that gets the people going, but they could work a little harder to improve their sound. Like making more beat drops, adding a few more vocals with meaning, and taking more risks in doing different beats. That would transform Glitch Mob from good to totally epic.

Feeling like a super hero in movie taking down anyone and everyone that wants to take you down. In slow motion, feeling pumped, slowly knocking them out, one by one. That’s what it feels to listen to The Glitch Mob. They get you going, making you feel like you’re at the top of the world, and nothing can stop you. But also at other times their music in a way can make you think about your future, past, and present. Wondering what else will you do with your life and if it was real or just a dream within a dream.

David Armendariz

STUDENT REVIEW: Birdy – Fire Within

Atlantic Records

Birdy Fire WithinImagine high-street with boho forming a perfect harmony.

Jasmine Van den Bogaerdo, best known as Birdy, accomplishes that in her 2nd album “Fire Within”. The 17 year-old British singer/songwriter worked with Rich Costey, Ryan Tedder and Jim Abiss (just to name a few) on this album. Fire Within is her own album that didn’t consist of only covers.

Bon Iver’s cover of “Skinny Love” helped put her on the map at 14, although she was discovered at 12 when she won first place at a 2008 UK open mic competition. The song became her first hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at 17. The single was chosen as “Record of the Week” by UK radio DJ Fearne Cotton, resulting in it being added to BBC Radio 1‘s B‑list playlist as soon as it was released in March 2011.

The album focuses on Birdy’s relationships with those who are close to her, while also exploring the experience of being away from home, traveling, trying new things and feeling hopeful.

Birdy’s song “Wings” was featured in the movie trailer for the recent film “Winter’s Tale”. She spoke of it being “exciting” because her friends could view her music on the screen. In the song “Wings,” the melody hits you in an ecstatic form making you feel like a recharged battery. The piano and chorus provide the perfect support for the vocals. You find this same combination in other tracks except each track provides you with a different sensation.

Track #6, “All You Never Say” is Birdy’s favorite song from this album. She wrote it with Dan Wilson, Adele and Taylor Swift in Los Angeles. The track says, “Life can be unkind, but only sometimes, you’re giving up before you start.” It also speaks about not knowing if you’re wanted because nobody ever lets you know they love you, she wishes she could read minds to see a simple sign.

Every song in this album expresses a different subject, whether it’s not knowing if you’re loved, or wishing your wings could fly to get to someplace else, and every song keeps you hooked. Even if you keep it on replay or have it shuffle.

Birdy’s real charm lies in her voice, which can bring you on the edge of tears or light you up. Like Christina Perri, Birdy has a great control of her voice. Christina’s maturity leads her to be musically advanced in comparison with Birdy. I think Birdy could be found at the same success level that Christina Perri is at in a couple of years.

This album deserves a “B”; she needs to work more on expressing herself freely through her music. For a 17-year old in the music industry she has a lot of prosperous years ahead of her.

I like this album because it lights me up, as a person I don’t always have the best of days. Sometimes her songs keep me thinking of current events. Her song “People Help the People” speaks of someone helping another in a time of need and I think that’s necessary. Her song “Heart of Gold” is constantly on replay. It expresses how I feel some days wishing I could be free and knowing that people think I’m weak because they can tear me apart with the words that they speak. Her music reminds me of love, happiness, hope and destruction all at once. I use sections of her songs as captions on my photos sometimes, because I can relate to them. Maybe it’s because she is a teen, or she is really just that great.

Karina Gallegos

STUDENT REVIEW: Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

Capitol Records

sam smith in the lonely hourDo you ever feel empowered, sad, happy, and frustrated all at the same time? Well those are some of the mixed emotions you get when you listen to newly discovered artist Sam Smith’s album “In the Lonely Hour”. Samuel Frederick Smith was born on May 19, 1992 in London, England. Like many, Sam did not just wake up one day singing very perfect pitch. Sam had been in jazz bands and studied singing and songwriting with his teacher Joanna Eden. He attended a catholic school in Bishops, Stortford, where he found success in the school’s choir and musical theater society.

It was bound for his amazing voice to be found, in 2012 he became more know when featured in Disclosures hit single “Latch”. The track instantly hit No.1 on the U.K singles chart. That same year Sam released his first Ep titled “Nirvana” where he sings the hit song “Latch” in an acoustic version. The Ep gives off a modern disco, electronic, hipster vibe with catchy lyrics and tune. The Ep “Nirvana” is about how the love feels for someone makes him feel and how he only has one love. The years 2013-2014 were Sam’s breakthrough years, when he released his first album “In the Lonely Hour” in May, 2014. It hit No. 2 in the U.K and, by November, it also hit No. 2 in the U.S.

Sam described his album as being about unrequited love, and I strongly agree with him. In almost every song he talks about loving someone who won’t love you back like the way you want them to. One of his hits “Stay With Me” tells the story of a break up that he doesn’t want to happen. In this song Sam demonstrates that he has good vocals and that he can hit a high note and then suddenly go back to low. Sam really puts his voice to use on another hit, “I Know I’m Not the Only One”. A song about infidelity and the struggle and hardship of deciding whether to leave the person you love most, and dealing with the pain of knowing that you were not the only one. His poetic, inspiring, lyrics with a good upbeat inspire many to live in the now and to love yourself because it’s hard to find the one who will love you forever.

Sam says that he writes songs for lonely people. I think with his songs he sends a message that everyone gets lonely sometimes and that people have so many problems and emotions that they can’t describe, so he describes it for them. As he says on his song “Like I Can” we can all love so much, but be looking at different roads and not notice the hearts that were given to us that we smashed. We all as human have problems and flaws, but others will not love and understand our “demons” as we know that someone else can; but we are blinded by the circumstances and the hands held out leading us to a wrong road.

Though the pop, soul and R&B album hit the top ten albums in both the U.S and U.K and Sam as an amazing voice, and potential and a desire to be gentle yet romantic for the “lonely people”, I give him a B+. He is sometimes compared to the modern sound of Ed Sheeran, and the rawness voice of Adele, it’s not enough to be at their level. Sam should take more risks, and not just make the album of sadness and not being loved. True anguish and despair is anger, unsound, and reckless, unstable emotion. I think that Sam should have done an album over all the emotions that a human can feel through any situations not just “The Lonely Hour”. That would be one thing that he could definitely improve on, taking risks and choosing more or less controversial topics to sing about.

Citlálli Fernández

EDITORS NOTE: Sam Smith recently won 4 Grammy Awards, including Record and Song of the Year.  He is also nominated for 5 Brit Awards.

STUDENT REVIEW: Milagres – Seven Summits

Self-released

Milagres Seven SummitsHave you ever gotten an intense feeling of goose bumps created by musical sound waves that you just can’t shake? If you have, then I recommend you listen to Milagres, an indie rock band from Brooklyn, New York. Their album “Seven Summits”, which was released in 2008, shows their passion for music and how they can make music fall gently out of heaven. The album consists of guitar, bass, keys and percussion all put together to make a magical symphony of sound. As the album’s diversity grows track by track, there can still be room for improvement on having a constant conversation with the instruments and the lyrics.

Unlike previous albums, “Seven Summits” is full of exciting new beats and rhymes. It was also an independently release and the best album they have put out yet with lead singer and guitarist Kyle Wilson, bass and keys Fraser McCulloch, guitar and percussion Eric Schwortz, who also met while attending New York University. They had all played previously in different bands in high school and by coincidence they had found each other in college and decided to make a band. The band came together in 2006 and they are still together to this day.

The album “Seven Summits” is filled with an emotional train wreck starting off with the song “Fifty Fourteeners”. This song portrays the group’s passion for anti-teen- suicide. “Tom stood upon the ridge on August 10th and thought about his baby’s frozen hands, and how although he lived, he’d never climb a rope or touch the face of a lover again.” Throughout the song they continue to write about suicide. The next song on the album is “Government Lakes” and this song is about a totally different mood, which is why Milagres is an emotional train wreck when it comes to the album “Seven Summits”. This song is about how happy life is and how we need to enjoy it more. “…walk down main street in the silver rain. Cars slide by on rainbows of spilt oil. Oceans of umbrellas in a race tumble past like gumballs on their way out of a machine.”

The all over album was full of interesting patterns of beats and lyrics coming together to give your ear an orgasm. As you go from heartbreak to an up beat rhythm you experience Milagres at an intense level of awed awesomeness. Although “Seven Summits” is the most-liked album by Milagres, they still have many different other songs that range from depressed to happy music which is why Milagres is so diverse from many other bands. They can play from different perspectives to further show how they can alternate mood in an album and still tie the songs together. Songs like “Glowing Mouth” and “Here to Stay” only illustrate on how they can play the different types of moods in their songs and, at the end, they can still be content with their flamboyant music making whatever sound, songs, albums, or genres of music and they will still sound like Milagres because that is who makes them their own unique band.

I give “Seven Summits” 10/10 as the band is pulling together their musical inspiration and singing it out in the album.

Joseph Barbara

EDITORS NOTE: Milagres last released an album almost one year ago. “Violent Light” was released on the Kill Rock Stars label. For more information on Milagres, click HERE.

James Muschler of Moon Hooch

Photo by Shervin Lainez
Photo by Shervin Lainez

Moon Hooch is horn players Mike Wilbur, Wenzl McGowen and  drummer James Muschler.  The following is an email exchange that took place between Great Beyond Music Blog (GBMB) and James Muschler (JM), drummer, of Moon Hooch.

GBMB: I can vividly remember riding the “L”, “M” and other trains from Queens to Manhattan (I graduated from Baruch College) and being thoroughly entertained by the preachers, teachers, seekers and musicians on those trains and platforms.  What life lessons did you learn from your time busking in the subways.

JM: Life lessons from the subway. Yea, there are many! One lesson that comes to mind is that when we were making music in the subway, it became important to maintain our focus, for the sake of the music. It was easy to let external distractions take our attention, so it was great place to practice devoting ourselves to the music, in the midst of all the craziness.

GBMB: Elaborate, if you will, on “Cave Music”.  For those around the country who may have never ridden in a subway, what exactly is Cave Music?

JM: About a month after Moon Hooch formed, my friend left me a message on my phone. It went, ‘Hey James, I just thought of a new style of music. It’s called cave music. It’s like house, but more jagged, wild, free and natural to live in.’ End of voicemail. Cave music described us perfectly, so from that moment on, that is what we have been calling our music.

Moon_Hooch_-_This_Is_Cave_Music_cover

GBMB: I want to preface this question by saying that I am not a vegan.  Having said that, the (minimal) knowledge that I have comes from reading articles about vegan diets.  One such article came from LIVESTRONG.COM. It mentioned that a disadvantage of the vegan diet is possible deficiency in vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin D, Iron, Protein, Calcium and B-12.  Now, my question, do you often find it difficult to marry a touring musician and vegan lifestyle?  What steps do you take to ensure that you are able to keep your energy at its peak at all times?

JM: Well, I will first start off by saying that none of us are truly vegan. We are definitely veg, though. We have gone through periods of time where we were vegan, but when we’re on the road, sometimes we just have to eat, and the only option available has butter or milk or cheese or whatever. Butter, milk, and cheese are delicious, after all, and I am grateful for any and all food that keeps me going. When we hit the road for a big tour, though, I like to bring an electric skillet, along with a cutting board, a chefs knife, a few other cooking tools, and a whole pantry full of ingredients – grains, legumes, spices, etc. When we have some time to stop at a farmers market, we’ll buy a bunch of fresh produce, and later, at the venue, I’ll cook a big dinner either before or after our set. These backstage meals are a lot of fun, and cooking on the road definitely makes it easier for us to eat more vegan meals. As for the possible vitamin deficiencies of a vegan diet that you mentioned, I think that the important thing with any diet is to eat mostly plants. There is plenty of vitamin D, iron, protein, and calcium in a diet rich in a variety of plant foods. Every nutritionist I’ve spoken with has told me this. And statistically, cultures that celebrate fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes as the main components of their cuisines benefit from far better health and suffer from disease far less and than cultures who consider meat to be a crucial part of their cuisine.

GBMB: I have to believe that your musical influences are far and varied.  Please share some of those influences and what in particular you have learned from these influences.

JM: Hindustani Indian Classical Music blows me away over and over again. Also John Coltrane. I am a big fan of contemporary classical composers like Morton Feldman, John Cage, Gyorgi Ligeti, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Some more favorites are Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Tiny Hazard, Meshuggah, and Rage Against the Machine. All of this music resonates with me on a high level. My study of tabla and of Hindustani Indian Classical Music has taught me lessons in focus and discipline, and of experiencing music as meditation. John Coltrane, I feel, deepened my love for music in a way that nobody else had ever before. Tiny Hazard is an amazing band from Brooklyn that moves me deeply every time I see them. Gyorgi Ligeti’s “Lux Aeterna” is, I think, my favorite piece of written music.