When we last checked in with Lafayette, LA-based bust-out twee pop troupe GIVERS earlier this summer, they had just delivered a stunningly recorded collection of indie epics in the form of their debut album In Light. And although we have a pretty strong aversion to “Best of The Year… So Far” lists, getting sandwiched between Tune-Yards and Radiohead in any sort of discussion is certainly something to get excited about. As one would expect, the quintet has been hard at work, jumping all over the country before heading across the Atlantic for a month of barnstorming the United Kingdom with a string of high-impact appearances.
After a write-up in New Musical Express and a much-talked about Black Cab Session, Louisiana’s favorite sons and daughter made it back home to Lafayette, though only briefly, as they’re already back on the road through most of September. Nevertheless, they still managed to find the time to film a well-produced video for “Meantime” – a longing walk down memory lane in an old plantation house that finds band members exploring every hauntingly sentimental room with flashlights in hand and nine-year-old versions of themselves by their sides before launching a glittered and disco-lit revelation of a house performance.
MP3: GIVERS: “Meantime”
Pigeons & Planes/Mostly Junk Food, 2011
It would be far too easy to call G-Eazy‘s The Endless Summer a “mixtape”, as the term has become a quick and dirty shorthand for any sample-laced internet-only hip hop release of the last ten years. The latest from this New Orleans-based, Bay Area-bred MC does ostensibly fit the bill: Despite a somewhat unique inclination towards 50s and 6os rock and soul, the album is effectively the work of a buzzworthy blog rapper rapping over quirky beats borrowed from the canons of blogged-about buzzbands. But the pristine and conscientious production of The Endless Summer – in both the traditional music recording sense of the term as well as its hip hop specific beatmaking definition – fiercely eschews classification as a standard issue “mixtape”.
The eponymous album opener as well as its lead single, “Runaround Sue”, are quick to put a fine point on this important distinction, as both showcase G-Eazy’s compositional propensity to elevate the songs on The Endless Summer beyond each’s well-picked loops. The source material is easily recognizable (especially the case for the latter), but the vintage pop of The Beach Boys and Dion is cradled in booming low-end, and local vocal talent is tapped to supplement Eazy’s laid back flow with freshly written and well-performed choruses. The beautiful “All I Can Do” similarly transcends the “mixtape” paradigm, as the portion of the track borrowed from LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrslf Clean” sits comfortably among American Idol-alum Devon Baldwin‘s sultry voice and NYC alt-rapper Skizzy Mars‘ playful boasts.
And as was the case on G-Easy’s March offering The Outsider (on which Caddywhompus‘ “But Not Before A Show” served as the backbone for the standout “You Were Up To Something”), the assist on The Endless Summer‘s high point again goes to a brilliant sample deftly plucked from New Orleans’ own indie-rock movement. In a true masterstroke of creativity and sardonic wit, the infectious “Make-Up Sex” is built atop the bouncy chorus of Generationals’ “When They Fight, They Fight”, with G-Eazy replacing the polite innuendo of the original with the good-natured but frank earnestness that defines most of The Endless Summer‘s choicest cuts.
The Endless Summer is not without its momentary missteps however, as the topical pleasure of Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks” proved too alluring for even G-Eazy’s otherwise admirable discretion. But an occasional odd track that doesn’t quite pass the high bar set by the album’s shining moments does little to stop the impressive momentum of G-Eazy’s consistent, clever and sharp new set.
The Endless Summer on Bandcamp
Shannon McNally performing at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art for “Ogden After Hours” on August 25, 2011
08.25: Off With Their Heads + Dead To Me + The Lollies – Siberia
08.26: Cheeky Blakk + Blind Texas Marlin + LuckyLou + JC Styles – The Saint
08.27: Vox and the Hound + Coyotes + Mobley – Carrollton Station
If there is a New Orleans band that both typifies “indie rock” and avoids the genre’s propensity for offering up artists capable of nothing more than middling, five-out-of-ten twee pop, that band is undeniably Vox and the Hound. After bowing out of local rock stalwarts MyNameIsJohnMichael, drummer Eric Rogers and singer/songwriter Leo DeJesus re-emerged almost immediately in early 2010 with an immensely talented and affably humble line-up of musicians that includes bassist Andrew Jarman, guitarist Rory Callais, and Community Records co-founder, instrumental renaissance man and all-around nice guy Daniel Ray.
After spending the better part of last year performing with more and more frequency and ferocity, Vox stormed out of the gate in 2011 with the contemplative folk-informed pop recordings that make up January’s Hermosa EP. While that release certainly established the band as effortlessly able to put out a physical product as impressively produced as it is adroitly dispatched, the heart of Vox and the Hound – up to this point – has been the group’s energetic, powerful, and astonishingly flawless live performances. Having just ended an extended summer break with a short but revelatory swing through Texas, the five-piece will be holding it’s homecoming – their first performance in the Big Easy since May – at Carrollton Station with New Orleans-by-way-of-Los Angeles Americana act Coyotes and Austin, TX indie pop trio Mobley.
MP3: Vox and the Hound: “End of Me (feat. Julie Odell)”
MP3: Coyotes: “Cosmic American”
08.28: Karma To Burn + Mountain Of Wizard + Red Shield + Quiet Hands – Siberia
08.29: The Olivia Tremor Control – One Eyed Jacks
Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks
Leaving + Whom Do You Work For? + Opossom performing at Hey! Cafe on August 19, 2011
While the oppressive heat that takes hold of New Orleans during the summer months has yet to show any signs of retreat, Fall is indeed on the way. One need look no further than the return of autumn’s younger but nearly identical sibling to YLC’s “Wednesdays At The Square”, the free Harvest The Music concert series, which kicks off an eight-week run at Layfayette Square on September 14. “Big” Sam Williams and His Funky Nation play the opening ceremonies, and a cast of some of New Orleans’ best usual suspects will be trotted out over the following two months:
The series continues every Wednesday through Nov. 2 with headliners Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Roadshow, Bonerama with Dave Malone, Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Buckwheat Zydeco.
Trombone Shorty‘s October 12th performance – which will be his first New Orleans gig after he unleashes a new album on the world in September – should be circled on everyone’s music calendar, but so should Bonerama‘s appearance on September 28. The reigning champions of brassy, funked-out rock and roll will be joined by “former” Radiator Dave Malone throughout the fall, and towering country/blues force-of-nature Alvin Youngblood Hart will be opening.
Admission is free and the music starts at 5PM each week. All proceeds from the sale of food, drink, arts and crafts benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.
Harvest the Music concert series to feature Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty, Blind Boys | NOLA.com
EVERYONE Shark America + Adam Arcuragi & The Lupine Choral Society performing at the Howlin’ Wolf Den on August 19, 2011