© 2016 Sharee Allen.

MUSIC

Featured Fests: The National's Homecoming Ushers in a New Era of DIY

Photos By Sharee Allen
Words by John Mabery

The National’s Homecoming is the kind of festival one gets homesick from once it’s over.  The two-day festival - running from April 28th-29th - was attended by locals and sojourners alike (we talked to couples from Canada and Australia alike).  But despite all those miles and hours spent traveling to this little Midwestern city, one could tell the crowd left feeling as if they found heaven here in Cincinnati.    

Curated by the titular hometown heroes, Homecoming felt both epic and quaint all at once.  One could walk over to the National Underground Railroad Museum to see William Oldman play a daytime set with the Dessner Brothers or watch Future Islands high above the crowd from the pedestrian walkway on the Roebling Bridge.  Marquee artists (Feist, Father John Misty) and lesser known acts (Spank Rock, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith) alike tore it up all weekend long.  Sometimes there was cross-pollination, like when National drummer Brian Devendorf sat in with another Cincy-based band, A Delicate Motor.  He followed up the performance by throwing a Nerf football around with his kids once the crowd had more or less cleared out.
 
The two strongest performances of the weekend highlighted the spectrum of talent on display.  Celebrating a homecoming of their own, the Breeders (featuring their classic Last Splash-era lineup) sounded Last Splash-esque.  It was a raucous affair that suggested that the last 25-years had been nothing more than a brief pause.  Conversely, Moses Sumney’s minimalist set a mere 24-hours later was both hypnotic and painstakingly beautiful.  During a performance of “Don’t Bother Calling,” a hawk soared overhead, the only object in a clear blew sky.  It was a fitting optic for the LA-singer/songwriter.

And then of course there was the National.

The titular hometown heroes closed out each night of the festival with two-hour sets, their Sunday night show featuring a complete performance of The Boxer. While it was a momentous occasion for the local boys, it was also a loose affair.  They continually shouted out their wives and parents in the crowd, and Matt Berniger gave us a history lesson at one point (“I think I threw up right over there,” he said, motioning to a nearby sidewalk).

The National Homecoming Festival was one of the most relaxed yet tightly-organized festivals an avid music listener will find.  It was the perfect celebration of our little Midwestern city and the bands that formed here.  Lord knows we’re holding our collective breath waiting for next year’s edition.

Four Reasons to Catch Miguel on the War & Leisure Tour (While You Still Can)

By Sharee Allen

The Accessibility

From festivals to nightclubs to fancy theatre ballrooms, this Miguel tour is hitting every type of venue in every notable American city. The only plausible excuse you have is that there are only a few weeks left and you might've missed your chance already. But in that case, take a little road trip.

The Performance

Miguel's shows are a workout, for him and for everyone else in attendance. It's amazing how he can belt it out, bouncing back and forth across the stage with the energy of a tween who's run out of Ritalin. The intimate crowd interaction is also a highlight, particularly during his seated heart-to-hearts in between acts, when he encourages everyone to "Skywalk on their haters."

The Sex Appeal

This brings us to the visuals. Miguel is undeniably this generation's Prince, and he takes this honor seriously. After two costume changes and sweat pouring down his inked up arms​ and chest, the tension between him and every adoring fan in the front row is palpable. Especially as we sing along to "the valley." (And no, we're not just talking about the women.)

The Opening Acts & Band

Fans are warmed up by rum & Cokes, a blunt or two, and Miguel's brother Nonchalant Savant. Then comes the romantic but often tortured tracks of singer-songwriter SiR. He's signed to Kendrick's label and has worked with Anderson .Paak and Schoolboy Q. The slow rollout of his smooth lines, like "I got hella shit to do today, I'm just hoping you don't let me," compliment the luscious Miguel vibe perfectly.

*Also Miguel's band is crazy talented. They keep low profiles on the interwebs.

Albums of the Year 2017

By John Mabery

Photos by Sharee Allen

2017 was a year of personal upheaval – and I think that holds true for most of us.  It felt impossible not to be affected in some way by what we read in the news on a regular basis.  But if there was one thing that got me through, it was the music.  And though it wasn’t the firebrand year for the album that 2016 was (really, a year like that comes along once in a generation), what follows is a long list of players that got it right.  These were the ones that either reflected on the unrest or made us get up and stare it defiantly in the face. 

 

SZA – Ctrl

The breakout album of 2017, Ctrl goes right for the jugular.  SZA has a lot in common with contemporary Frank Ocean – her range and technique, though wide, don’t detract from the difficult subject matter she tackles with raw vulnerability.  Even label mate Kendrick Lamar can’t steal the spotlight from her on album standout, “Doves In The Wind.”

 

Favorite track: Doves In The Wind

 

Kamasi Washington – Harmony of Difference

Depending on how much attention you pay to tracks, Harmony of Difference can be viewed as one dynamic song or a series of songs centered around one melody that anchors the EP.  But no matter how one views it, it’s an opportunity for members of the L.A. Get Down to express a wide range of emotion in a much shorter time frame compared to The Epic (2015).  With this six-song EP and his work on other albums throughout this list, Washington has cemented himself as the go-to crossover jazz musician of our time.

Favorite track: Desire

Jazzmeia Horn – A Social Call

While it feels like Jazzmeia Horn was sent to the present as a gift from the jazz days of yore, this isn’t the case – she is just a brilliant student of the game.  For proof of this, take a listen to her scat solo midway through “Moanin’.”  A Social Call doesn’t sound like anything remotely like a debut, but more like the work of seasoned veteran – and that’s exactly what Horn is.

Favorite track: Lift Every Voice And Sing/Moanin’

Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

At a svelte 36-minutes (though stout in complexity), Big Fish Theory is the masterwork of a thinking man’s rapper.  Known for his unparalleled stream of consciousness, Vince Staples tackles issues from superstardom to gangbanging, love to politics, or really, whatever you think it means – he doesn’t care. But if his nihilistic outlook on life is to be believed, it makes this stroke of genius by the Long Beach native feel all the more impressive.

 

Favorite track: 745

 

Fever Ray – Plunge

More like The Knife’s Shaking The Habitual (2013) than her previous solo work, Plunge feels freeing – one can imagine Karin Dreijer bursting from her earthly vessel when listening to album standouts “IDK About You” or “To The Moon and Back.”  It is a confrontational album, one that took this listener time to warm up to before I could even consider it for the list.  But that’s Fever Ray – challenging the listener with sound and ideology that will rip you from your comfort zone and send you hurtling toward the beautiful unknown.

Favorite track: Mustn’t Hurry

Suck The Honey – All Hail Having Failed

In 2017, it was hard to think of rock – like, straight up guitar and drums rock – being anything other than dead.  But on All Hail Having Failed, Suck The Honey addresses topics like self-loathing and breakups and responds with the kind of thunderous fury that makes for an instant rock classic.  Through all the fire, they manage to come out alive. 

 

Favorite track: In Love With A Ghost

Kelela – Take Me Apart

Whether in the club or the bedroom, Take Me Apart is an album made for the nighttime.  Kelela’s debut album is filled with lush production that is rife with influences from the 80s to the present, and suits the singer’s sinewy vocals.  It’s a transcendent work that establishes the singer as an R&B superstar to watch.

Favorite track: Frontline   

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

Released (digitally at least) shortly before the New Year, the third and strongest album in the brilliant RTJ trilogy sent ripples well into 2017; one that is equal parts call-to-arms and part primal scream therapy in the wake of the Trump election.  With RTJ3, Killer Mike and El-P have positioned themselves not just at the forefront of hip-hop, but as torchbearers for political and social change.   

 

Favorite track: Thursday In The Danger Room

 

Four Tet – New Energy

Kieran Hebdan makes music for quiet contemplation as much as for the dance floor.  New Energy reaffirms his status as the finest producer of electronic music this decade, combining Middle Eastern melodies with propulsive club beats.  This is an album that breathes life into the listener. 

Favorite track: SW9 9SL

St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION

Don’t be fooled by its tongue-in-cheek rollout or high art music videos – MASSEDUCTION just happens to be a work of art that occasionally drifts into pop territory and succeeds.  Jack Antonoff’s production bolsters the latest iteration of the St. Vincent character, as heard on tracks like “Pills” and “Masseduction.”  But it’s when the album is at its quietest that Annie Clarke reminds us how much of a humanist she truly is.

Favorite track: Los Ageless

Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

Open Mike Eagle’s work has always been typified by the cerebral nature of his wordplay.  On Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, Mike brings all the brick and mortar of the Robert Taylor Homes he grew up in to life through the many characters and experiences he paid witness to.  In doing so, he runs a gamut of emotions and ends up producing his most complete work yet.

Favorite track: (How Could Anyone) Feel At Home

Miguel – War & Leisure

On War & Leisure, Miguel is as devious as ever.  Though he’s built an envious catalogue for the ages based mostly around sex, his fourth album is his most politically charged yet.  Listening to tracks like “Criminal” or “Wolf” gives one the impression that, with the apocalypse on his mind, all of that sex is more hasty, more dire than ever.

 

Favorite track: Wolf

Bjork – Utopia

On what is her finest album since Homogenic (1998), Bjork has found her musical companion in Arca, whose production compliments the Icelandic singers like few have in more recent memory.  He fuses flutes, birds, and blips into one delicate sound while Bjork belts about her senses awakening.  In typical fashion, she manages to sound ageless.

 

Favorite track: Utopia

 

Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

Coming back down to earth is hard, particularly when things on earth are so fucked up.  But no one handles the pressure, tackles the complexities of life and the afterlife, and ponders the what-ifs with the precision of Kendrick Lamar.  No matter which way you listen to the album (I prefer in reverse, starting with “Duckworth), DAMN. is yet another classic from K-Dot that does a tremendous job challenging listeners while garnering mainstream success.

Favorite track: HUMBLE.

Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me

In a year when death enveloped my own life, A Crow Looked At Me is an artist’s gut reaction to the enormity of loss.  Phil Elervum’s lyrics flow with such stream-of-consciousness that you can feel the numbness as he eulogizes his wife, as well as their future together.  As beautiful a listen as it is challenging, Elervum confronts all of life’s most difficult questions with sheer bravado, and in the process created an album that couldn’t be replicated, possibly even by its maker.

Favorite track: Real Death 

Open Mike Eagle Demands That You Respect His Qualifiers

By Sharee Allen

Photos by Sharee Allen

Open Mike Eagle defies all categorization.

It’s a fact that’s evident his lyrics, “I will never fit in your descriptions // I’m giant,” “F*ck you if you’re a white man that assumes I speak for black folks // F*ck you if you’re a white man who thinks I can’t speak for black folks” and in the fluid way he moves from electronica to chill hop to cerebral rap in just one track.  Producing all of his own music and mixing in beautiful, soulful vocals seemingly out of left field, he’s a one-man show like no other.

In his intimate performance last Saturday night at The Chameleon in Northside, he kept the crowd involved like a young professor would talk to students in his independent study seminar. His set ran through lots of tunes from his newest album Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, where he flows through every topic from not feeling at home anywhere, to kids in the projects who become hackers, to why you should definitely NOT invite him to your wedding.

There is a dark side to OME, a palpable anger directed at societal constructs, and it comes out in the raw energy he brings to his live show. He’s from South side Chicago, and has seen enough to tell a story. My favorite line of the evening was from My Auntie’s Building, the closing track to the new album, which details the bulldozing of the high-rise Robert Taylor Homes: “They say America fights fair // But they won’t demolish your timeshare.” Preach.

Balancing this protest-anthem flavor is Mike’s unapologetic nerdiness and introspective quality: anyone who can back up the rage with intelligent discourse like he can is a force to be reckoned with.  His Atari-inspired beats and references to apps like Words with Friends keep it light enough to stay engaged, like you’re on a rollercoaster of politically-charged emotion but you do need to stop and check your phone. Mike, if you’re reading this, I challenge you to a game. My Words username is Shareemix.

 

Other OME projects to check out: The Advice Show, any of his podcasts, and The New Negroes, soon to be on Comedy Central.

OME on Spotify:

I’d recommend albums Dark Comedy and Hella Personal Film Festival.

The Good Times Are Killing Me - Modest Mouse & Mimicking Birds

Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY

By John Mabery

Photo by Sharee Allen

I never got to meet my brother-in-law Jake – he passed away before I had the chance to meet him. One thing I’ve come to learn about him was that he had great taste in music.The last band he ever saw in concert was Modest Mouse, who played the second of two shows at the Cap this past Saturday night. Joined by my fiancé and Jake’s best friend, the band gave us the kind of performance that was as sonically satisfying as it was spiritually healing.

Featuring a setlist that spanned their entire discography, including “Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset” from This Is A Long Drive…

Read more at The ReCAP on The Squirrel.

 Ripping Through The Neon Prophecies 

The Growlers at The Woodward

The Woodward Theater went coastal when the LA-based band The Growlers were joined by New Jersey-bred guitarist Delicate Steve for a night of raucous fun and oddball intimacy.   

 

Kicking off the evening was Steve Marion, who performs under the moniker Delicate Steve.  Marion - a burgeoning virtuoso - plays music that feels slightly to the left of power pop; his songs (mostly instrumentals) are accessible without sacrificing any of the prowess that warrants Guitar God status.  What magnifies the theatricality of his playing is how Marion assumes all the flashy cliche poses of an Angus Young or Jimmy Page while looking completely deadpan.  This seems to underpin the notion that Marion doesn’t take himself too seriously - he plays epic music without breaking a sweat.  Early on, he accidentally bumped the microphone with the neck of his guitar while doing some fancy box step move.  Instead of playing it cool, Marion then bumped the the mic again, igniting a set-long shoving match between himself and the stand.  It never seemed to lose its humor.

The Growlers took the stage soon after (with Marion joining the band on lead guitar, no less).  The delayed arrival of singer Brooks Nielsen sent the crowd into a frenzy upon his arrival.  After opening with a killer version of “Hashima Weed,” Nielsen said to guitarist Matt Taylor, “You were worried sick, weren’t you?”  That was about all the banter for the rest of the night, as The Growlers commenced with a 90-minute set in which it felt like they played fifty songs from their lengthy repertoire.  

 

Throughout the set, Nielsen glided across the stage, sometimes locking hands with audience members as he sang to the heavens.  For the most part, the show maintained its mellowness until the encore when the band launched into “I’ll Be Around,” which prompted a dozen people to crowd surfer toward the stage.

 

With their soul-tinged garage sound, their vintage boutique clothing, and their dazed and confused aura, it feels as if the band descended upon us from another place and time.  And though we are geographically far from LA, the diversity of the crowd (ranging from the underaged drinkers to the middle-aged thinkers) reflected the broad appeal of The Growlers.  One can assume their base can only grow from here.  

The Growlers will close out their tour with a pair of shows in their hometown of Los Angeles. For more information or to catch them on tour, visit their calendar.

Stay Happy: Canadians & Female Vocalists Unite the MPMF 2017 Crowd

By John Mabery

Photos by Sharee Allen

Okay MidPoint Music Festival, let’s try this again.

 

While the 2016 edition of the festival had (arguably) the superior lineup, the overall event was marred by poor planning.  With that said, this year’s MidPoint made big strides to rectify some of those issues.  Sound quality (or lack thereof) was an issue again this year, with a number of acts on the YMCA stage plagued by feedback or hot mics throughout their sets. 

 

Consolidating the festival into one indoor location turned out to be the best move for everyone involved.  The Taft Theatre and Masonic Temple made such an ideal spot for the festival that I’m surprised it isn’t utilized for similarly-structured events more often.  One of my gripes about the 2016 edition was the competing sounds due to the close proximity of the stages.          

With four stages spread throughout the facility - particularly in enclosed rooms on different floors - overlap was never an issue.  The respective placement of the food trucks along 5th Street and most of the merch vendors centralized in the corridor between Taft and the Temple was also well-executed, though it seemed like neither sections boasted long lines at any point during the festival.

As far as the music itself, there were a lot of subplots to this year’s festival.  Given the number of Canadian bands (supergroups Broken Social Scene and the New Pornographers and the up-and-coming Badbadnotgood) headlining, a good name for the festival might’ve been MidPoint Music Festival, Eh?  There was also a wide array of local musicians.  From the gentle falsetto vocal stylings of Adam Torres to the radio-friendly garage rock of Mad Anthony (both brilliant in their own respects) to the poppy, hair-gelled cast of Walk the Moon, the festival went a long way to conjure the fleeting spirit of WNKU by promoting local artists.  

 

One of my favorite aspects of this year's festival was how it was dominated by an endless array of strong female vocalists.  The aforementioned performance from Broken Social Scene was anchored by new vocalist Ariel Engle, whose soul-tinged voice is all over the new record and held up beautifully against the wall of guitars backing her.  Simi Sernaker, standing in for Neko Case, was a more than capable replacement during the rocking New Porn’s set.  B.Miles took the award for Best Cover of the weekend (her version of Macy Gray’s “I Try” is way better than the original), while Bedouin’s highly confessional brand of folk was juxtaposed perfectly by Valerie June’s rousing country-rock.            

 

But the true breakout performance of the festival came courtesy of Chicago MC  

Noname.  Sandwiched between energetic sets by iNPO favorites Dan Deacon and Badbadnotgood, Noname (born Fatimah Warner) filled her 45-minute set with tracks from last year’s Telefone and no filler.  Onstage, Noname is a commanding presence even when at her most low key.  She joked with her backing band as they transitioned from one song to the next, spurring her to spit rhymes delivered as if they were coming from off the top but with little to no effort.  

The thing that I will remember most about MidPoint 2017 was the total sense of unity.  Valerie June spoke of the pleasure of performing to all different kinds of people every night while Kevin Drew took a moment to address the elephant in the room — the political divisiveness plaguing the country right now —so that everyone could focus on having a good time.  There were also somber moments of tribute throughout.  Earlier in Broken Social Scene’s raucous set, Engle brought it down for a couple of minutes when she dedicated Hug of Thunder standout “Stay Happy” to the late Charles Bradley, who had not only passed away, but was supposed to perform in Cincinnati the night before.

 

But perhaps the words that resonated with me the most came from Mad Anthony vocalist & guitarist Ringo Jones, who stated simply, "Whether you've been here for four minutes or four hours, rock 'n roll is all about having fun and we want you to have fun.”  It was the perfect thesis statement for an ideal weekend of live music in the Queen City.

Suck The Honey - All Hail Having Failed 

 

Take a look at the album art for All Hail Having Failed - the debut album from Suck The Honey.  That sketch is undoubtedly of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lucas Frazier, but one that makes him look weathered to such an extent that it had to be drawn rather than photographed.  

 

Throughout the ten-track LP, Frazier offers little to no levity, his spirit eroded by human experience (one that includes very human things like failed relationships, soured friendships, and the bleak worldview that comes as a result.)  But despite all the doom and gloom of the subject matter, Frazier and drummer Jake Grove have constructed an album with enough cocksureness to placate the broken-hearted.

 

What makes All Hail so palpable is all the piss and vinegar that runs through it’s veins.  Frazier sounds like he’s grown accustomed to the role of the scorned lover.  But he and Grove infuse tracks like “Right Where It Hurts,” “What Makes A Man A Boyfriend,” and lead single “Bite Yr Tongue” with so much swagger that you can hear them locating redemption in the pain.  This is most palpable on the bluesy “In Love With A Ghost,” in which Frazier declares, “I hate your guts but I love your ghost.”  Reading that lyric might lead one to think Frazier is lamenting a loss, but when taken into context, it sounds like he’s just reporting the facts.

   

Suck The Honey’s impressive live act can be characterized by Frazier’s showmanship and Grove’s thunderous drumming, something that translates perfectly to the album. All Hail is an album brimming with heavy riffage, and Grove gives it the foundation, primarily through unexpected rhythm changes that add depth to many of the tracks (“Bite,” “Boyfriend”).  Though their strengths create something akin to a yin and yang balance, Frazier and Grove sound as if they’re on the same page throughout, while constantly challenging one another with their respective nuances. 

 

This is an album that kicks all kinds of ass indiscriminately.  Throughout all ten tracks, Suck The Honey continually strikes a balance between beauty and ugliness, heaviness and quietude, candidness and guardedness.  By the time we get to “Truly Alone and Lonely” (the album closer and lone acoustic track), Frazier sounds like he’s got nothing left to give.  But on All Hail Having Failed, he gives it his all.  

 

In support of this weekend’s release of “All Hail Having Failed,” Suck The Honey will play MOTR Pub in Over-The-Rhine this Saturday, September 23rd at 10pm.  The show is free.  

 

MOTR Pub is located at Main Street, Cincinnati, OH 45219 

All Hail Having Fail is available at www.suckthehoney.com

Soften - seen + unseen

 

Cincinnati-based Soften is new in name but not in reputation.  For anyone who’s had the opportunity to see them live (their month-long residency at The Comet or their set at Northside Music Festival earlier this year come to mind) is familiar with their dynamism.  A collective of four distinct personalities initially named after singer, songwriter, and guitarist Brianna Kelly, the band is now truly — at least in terms of their namesake — a band.  

 

Their debut seen + unseen is less of an album and more of an experience.  It washes over you like a low tide wave from a sun-drenched ocean.  It has the feel of a classic shoegaze album: atmospheric but without the indecipherable lyrics.  And though it is Kelly’s vocals (specifically, her vocal restraint) that are the centerpiece of this sublime seven-song EP, it is obvious from the start that this is an all-hands-on-deck affair.

 

Kelly is truly calculating — she exhales lyrics over the instrumentals, as if blowing a toy boat along the surface of the water.  Guitarist Corey Waddell, bassist Jon Delvaux, and drummer Andrew Aragon each augment her performance with one of equal restraint, never expending more energy than is necessary.  And though she teases her range on album standout “Breaking My Bones,” Kelly doesn’t truly flex her muscles until the band does, as evident in the explosive climactic track “See Me.” 

 

The beauty of seen + unseen is that it doesn’t go where you expect it to.  Songs like album opener “To Be Known” take an unexpected shift in rhythm midway through.  Sometimes the band teases with a build (“Snow,” “Shiver In Yr Soul”) before petering out, never reaching that violent conclusion you’ve been anticipating for the first four or five minutes of the song.  That’s what makes “See Me” such a fitting conclusion, and it’s the reason the EP is best absorbed as a singular work rather than a series of tracks.  

 

At a time when the quiet-loud-quiet format feels like pretty well-worn territory, we get a reminder that sometimes it’s good to stay right where you are.  For the listener, it is that discipline that makes seen + unseen such a rewarding experience. 

 

In support of this weekend’s release of “seen + unseen,” Soften will play Northside Tavern tomorrow night, September 22nd at 9:30 pm.  This is a free show.

 

Northside Tavern is located at 4163 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45223

seen + unseen is available at soften.bandcamp.com/album/seen-unseen

In this section, we take a look at a pair of local bands who aren’t on the MidPoint Music Festival lineup, but in an almost blatant F You to the Man, are releasing the best music you will hear over the upcoming weekend.

 

Also, there’s no point in grading them.  They’re both pretty much perfect.

By John Mabery

Photos by Sharee Allen

Cincinnati Bands Celebrate Record Releases

Six Avant-Garde Festivals to Put On Your Radar: Late Summer

These festivals are not just booze and jam bands: they're making a difference.

By Sharee Allen

Photos by Sharee Allen

Travelers' Rest Fest

http://travelersrestfest.com

Missoula, MT

With guests Sylvan Esso, Charles Bradley, and Belle & Sebastian, The Decmeberists announce the first ever Travelers’ Rest Fest, coming to Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheatre in Missoula, Montana. The August 12-13 festival brings together more than 15 artists across two stages, and you know if it’s curated by The Decemberists, it’s limited to the very best in music.

Afropunk Fest

http://afropunkfest.com/brooklyn/line-up/ 

Brooklyn, NY — and four other cities worldwide

Afropunk is the annual, widely anticipated celebration of the soul that still exists in ever-gentrifying areas like Brooklyn. All five incarnations (Bk, London, Paris, Atlanta, Johannesburg) run a global initiative, leveraging "our collective cultural power to drive progressive social change." The Brooklyn fest is August 26-27th and boasts Anderson Paak, Raphael Saadiq, Thundercat, and a special mystery guest TBA.

Hopscotch Music Fest

http://hopscotchmusicfest.com/lineup/

Raleigh, NC

Over four days (Sep 7-10), Hopscotch’s venues range from large outdoor mainstages in Raleigh City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheater to intimate club shows. As their site relishes, the festival features music in basically every genre imaginable, including Solange, Run the Jewels, Angel Olsen, Noname, and our recently discovered vulnerable love project, Mount Eerie.

Pygmalion Fest

http://www.thepygmalionfestival.com 

Champaign, IL

In Champaign/Urbana, from Sep 20-24, the five-day festival (named after the album by Slowdive) features a slew of fabulous artists from Animal Collective and Badbadnotgood, to Thundercat and Noname. It's only 2 1/2 hours from Chicago, and it features a collaboration with Madefest, an huge outdoor marketplace of handmade & vintage sellers.

Midpoint Music Fest

Cincinnati, OH

http://mpmf.com

If you can’t take off work that entire week, head down to Cincinnati for the weekend (Sep 23-24) to check out Dan Deacon, Frightened Rabbit, Broken Social Scene, Badbadnotgood and so many more at Midpoint Music Festival.  MPMF made some changes last summer under new management, and we're excited to see the brand continue to develop: this year the fest will be in the Taft Theatre and the Masonic Lodge downtown.  To see Dan Deacon is to attend the most interactive, feel-good dance party any artist is putting on today — the audience becomes the performer and Deacon is simply steering the ship.

Life is Beautiful

https://lifeisbeautiful.com

Las Vegas, NV

From volunteering for "greening crew" to photographing and covering the fest, we’ve been part of Life is Beautiful from day one in 2013. This year on Sep 22-24th, LiB headliners include Muse, Chance the Rapper, Gorillaz, Blink-182 (throwback!) and Lorde. What we love about this fest is the involvement of tech, science (Bill Nye is a speaker), comedy, and street art in the revitalizing of what's known as downtown Vegas.

The Long Way Home

Fleet Foxes Return with "Third of May/Odaigahara"

By John Mabery

This past weekend, Father John Misty (ne Josh Tillman) took to Twitter to answer a plethora of questions.  One of note pertained to Fleet Foxes - the band Tillman used to drum for - and their recently-released single, “Third of May/Odaigahara.”  It is their first new music in six years.