“GET YOURS FIRST! DEM NIGGAS SECONDARY” / THAT TYPE OF ILLIN’ DAT BE FILLIN’ UP THE CEMETERY.
Fresh from the July 25th release of their third album, Ritual Union (Peacefrog Records), Little Dragon came through the famous Roxy club in West Hollywood eager to perofm new material to an intimate and elated crowd. Immensely talented, the Swedish quartet functions organically and collectively, as all members of the group substantially contribute to the overall sensation of the music: the synths are deep, the basslines heavy and pronounced, with (nu)jazz percussion facilitating movement between the soloists and the beautiful Japanese-Swedish vocalist Yukimi Nagano.
The show began with the opening track from their new album; title track “Ritual Union,” a tune threaded together with dark and hollow synthesizers with enough bounce to get a solid two-step going. An effective and delightful warm-up leading up to the equally soulful and effervescent second track of the album, “Little Man,” has become a new personal favorite. Within the first couple of tracks the crowd got into wildin’ as the group solidified a more upbeat and chipper atmosphere channeling some Berlin and LCD Soundsystem sounds through the track “Please Turn.”
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Tyler the Creator, frontman of L.A. hip-hop convoy OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All), won’t admit to it but I’m sure he understands his audience to be predominantly white, suburban, indie-teens-in-training. Let’s try to keep that in mind here, now that there seems to be a somewhat recognizable consensus on Tyler the Creator’s second full-length album and first major label release, Goblin on XL Records. From where I’m standing it seems like folks are a bit dissatisfied. Granted there hasn’t been too many local hip-hop acts with this kind of trajectory since the astronomical rise of Lupe Fiasco, the quizzical introduction of Wiz Khalifa and others, this record leaves a lot to be desired. The album is choppy, draining, and quite lengthy. Some of the standout tracks (“Yonkers” and “Sandwitches”) on the record feel somewhat superfluous since they’ve already been overplayed in various venues. Acknowledging that the songs were never officially released and that they’re serving to introduce Tyler’s work to new audiences—as Odd Future’s nursery YouTube testifies—the trailer can sometimes be better than the film.
I knew what I was getting myself into. I made the appropriate mental adjustments to enjoy a show with a crowd I readily don’t frolic with, partly by chance, partly by destiny, and wholly by confusion. Still, I made the trek to “cosmopolitan” mecca Echo Park, California. I was there to enjoy the up and coming talent and doo-wop drone sounds of Dirty Beaches. Amongst the painfully nonchalant frequents of the now reputable The Echo, Dirty Beaches did work and interpolated some furious toe-tapping, of which I was no doubt a part of. Out the window went any concerns or reservation I had about thoroughly enjoying myself in an alien environment. Good tunes have a good habit of doing that.
Alex Zhang Huntai, the man behind Dirty Beaches, uniformed in a pair of jeans, a white under shirt, a bad-ass leather jacket and a slick pomp(adour), began the short set with formidable track “Speedway King.” Basically, Alex crooning the words “Speedway, king. King” over a looped, distorted riff. Some might call it monotone and repetitive, I’ll call it hypnotizing, captivating. If you can dig this cut, you can dig the rest of the sonic, yet no less, visual experience. Visual not merely by the backdrop vintage photographs of greasers in aviator glasses and women in baby doll shoes, but more importantly by the undeniable sound of a man doing 80mph on the freeway, chasing faith, home, anything concrete really. This man is a filmmaker making music. If you’re not into the show by this point, you might not ever be. The next track was “Sweet 17,” a song in the same vein as the previous, but this time it’s at 100mph, frantic. One could feel the audience either troubled, staring at an abstract painting or completely engulfed. Repetition works marvels with me, I was into it.
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Guest Contributor: Luis Moreno
“That’ll be 28 dollars,” said the bartender at The Wiltern, as I cautiously slid my debit card to him thinking he might have made a mistake. “Wait, 28 dollars for two beers. Are you sure?” He nods, annoyed. Enter the heavy bass and vocal sirens of Röyksopp to refresh a beer and make it taste like, well, a 14 dollar beer. Norwegian duo and electronic music veterans Röyksopp prove once again that they’re still relevant and should be excused for their uncharacteristic work with pop artist (and fellow Scandinavian) Robyn. The duo, composed of the unassuming yet brilliant Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland, performed in front of the appreciative crowd at the historic Wiltern in Los Angeles last Tuesday March 29th. Admittedly, not very well versed in the vast catalog of music Röyksopp has produced since their inception in the late 1990s, I always understood their music via association to other aesthetically similar trip-hop artists like Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky and Thievery Corporation. Tuesday’s performance has without a doubt solidified and distinguished the duo’s stylings as unique, impressive and worthy of (my) fan adoration.
Click here to read full live review at URB or click “Read More” below to finish reading here.