Category: Local Love

Lonely Hearts Map Deserts: The Electronic Sojourns of Birmingham’s Loveislight

loveislight“We annihilated the world before your very ears.”

So says the opening sample on “Before Your Senses,” the second track of Birmingham-based Loveislight’s debut album Gim; and if there is a mission statement ingrained throughout the duration of this engimatically named and constructed album of electronic music, then it is the duality  of destruction and creation (or re-creation), as every one of these twelve fleeting songs seem an avante-garde Sufi whirling of these two themes.

Who can look look at the wonderful cover art with its candy-striped nomads crossing a dune by the sea, beneath a sky bloodied and bruised with clouds, and not think of the music in the terminology of Middle Eastern theology and typography? From the opening track, “Intro Into the Ground,” with its waning strings that bleed into the syncopation of sparse drumbeats and the garbled speech of a deep-throated voice, the mood is set for the mercutial desert tempest of dissonate genre-delvings that follows. Clocking in at only at 26 minutes, Gim features song after song of music that dissasembles and reassembles music, creating a mezmerizing procession that spans across time and space, mapped by the click of a metronome.

Look no further than the second track, the aforementioned “Before Your Senses”–with it echo of a guitar line and  its brittle vinyl scrape recording and its tinny beats and twinkling keyboard riffs–to see what I mean. But then you must trek onwards.

Though “It Pays to Dwell” starts off as a slowdown of a song, replete with the distant recording of a stern voice talking sternly about children and stern values, it soon picks up with timed spurts of white noise that lead into one of the album’s more addictively groovy beats.

Likewise “Broadcast” starts off simply as a flurry of strings paired with a humurous recording of a back-and-forth between two radio personalities bickering about whether or not they can say the word “Hell” on air, and then goes to symphonic downtempo heights before abruptly shifting into the realm of dream pop.

“Contact Pt. 1” is a waystation of a song, as it is the first truely hopeful and optomistic track on the album. Organ keyboard sections and funky beats carry us into a World Music sample of a girl’s chorus, marking this as the first use of the human voice on the album for reasons other than pessimistic mood-setting or ironic darkness. For such a simple song that clocks in at only a second under two minutes, it’s one of the real stand-out achievements of the album as a whole.

But if the previous song was about coming together, then “Ramery” is more about dissonance with its in-an-out haunting keyboards and alien transmission warbles. “Ramery” is a brooding on the failure to rebuild.

Which is why there is something acerbic and pastiche about “Scratch Einstein.” Nostalgic 1940’s swing is synched throughout an onslaught of sounds not unlike the smacking of insectile mandibles, before passing through an industrial percussion sections, and coming out it all with a distorted life of its own, where it takes center stage of the song’s latter half.

“Free Man Standing” begins as a pretty phantom of a piano-based number before hitting its stride as an existential back-and-forth on the power of objects. First we have a desolate harmony of Valkerie-esque vocals that escalate into a looney toon-voiced sample explaining that Uncle Sam needs our money to mass-produce planes and tanks, before taking a spiritual turn as an old woman talks about the house her father built–not in terms of brick or mortar, but in terms of faith, love, and music. “Free Man Standing” is the most ambitious track on the album, juggling its myriad of themes and stylistic cadences, and then taking that final and important step of making it all work wonderfully.

“Three Ninety Three” is a brief, bluesy bridge into the Beethovian splendor of “Paying Dweller,” with its contrast of crystalline tones and feedback-dirty percussion. These two tracks make for an unexpected path to the penultimulate track of the album, “A Lasting Fashion”: an uplifting flourish of sixties soul set to a sample of an academic speculation of the nature of distances on a universal scale.

But we take a darker turn in the final, titular track, “GIm.” Sizzling ambience and bare-bones marching band percussion leads into a denouement of ominous digital beeps and a robotic rasp proselytizing the biblical end of existence. The song leaves you wondering, is this the voice of Gim? That may very well be, because its not a stretch of the alphabet or of rhyme (let alone the imagination)  to think of djinns, those angelic entities of the Qur’an, creatures existing in worlds and dimensions unknowable  to those of us who have to traverse this mortal coil. But maybe unlike their descriptions in that holy book, this djinn is not made of “scorching fire”; Gim is made of scorching sounds.

You can purchase Loveislight’s Gim here or follow them Facebook to find out about upcoming shows and releases.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anthony Vacca is a writer living in Birmingham who were are honored as hell to have on board. He also writes for WELD and can be contacted at Anthony.j.vacca@gmail.com.

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This year’s best “Secret”- Holy Youth

One of those unspoken rules about the new BHAM FM that is so unspoken that I haven’t even said it to anyone out loud is that I don’t want to write things that expire. “Oh hey this band is playing next Monday, you should go see them”. It seems counter-intuitive to me to write something with such a short shelf life.

So let’s, basically, do that. But I can wrap it in something else, which is always good. Like bacon.

In 2009, in what would become the final days of City Stages, we were running a little website that some Brits stole from us. In addition to that future injustice, City Stages had to get real lean, dropping the local bands stage that traditionally sat across from the Miller Lite stage. When it was in operation, it was a thing of beauty. You could hear a local band while the next “big” band set up on the Miller stage, and it ping-ponged back and forth all night. I discovered many bands at that stage, and loved the concept. They killed it. I don’t blame them for that, but it happened. So my wife (our Glorious Editor Whitney) said “hell with it, let’s put on our own local stage at Speakeasy.” And so we did.

2 years later, Sam George and Travis Morgan and probably other people I don’t know had an idea- bring bands in nobody has ever heard of, and put it in various bars on 1st and 2nd Avenue North. It wasn’t the same thing as the thing we did, but Sam asked if they could use the name. We, of course, said hell yes. Secret Stages, initially a dig at City Stages, would live on. And be something even greater than we could have imagined.

Whitney and I have attended all three proper Secret Stages, and loved every minute of it. It’s the thing I look forward to each year and the thing that I can point to that makes Birmingham amazing. I’ve seen so many good things in so many weird places (Easy Street, for instance) that I won’t bore you with them here.

Each year I find one act that just absolutely blows me away. 2011, without a doubt, it was The Howlies. They broke up, and that makes me very sad. They channeled the Ramones, which is something I will always appreciate.

2012, I have two bands. KLUB Monsta playing in a tent to about 20 people was like going to church. Baby Baby was insanity and as fun as any show I can remember.

Holy Youth
Holy Youth at Das Haus during 2013 Secret Stages

2013, though. 2013 was Holy Youth. Four kids from Montevallo blasting Das Haus. I loved it. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of them. Whitney would probably say it was New Madrid (who we saw earlier this week at Iron City), but for me, without a doubt, it was Holy Youth.

Which leads me to the part where I tell you something you only have 2 days to act on- Holy Youth is playing Bottletree Wednesday night with Looksy and Healing Power. I can’t wait to see them again. They have an EP on Bandcamp. Here’s the song I like:
http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3944199605/size=medium/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/t=4/transparent=true/

So go see them Wednesday night at Bottletree. Let’s not make this any more complex than that. Here’s some more info about Looksy and Healing Power:

Healing Power – http://www.healingpowerfriends.com (Cincinnati, OH)

The Kinks and Devo covering U2 and The Ramones. Fronted by Al Green.
“The group’s grasp on the finer points of cooking up melodies and honeycombs far surpasses their years… They are songs that will challenge you, make you swoon and also make peer out longingly to the twinkling stars up above on a clear-lit night.”
–Daytrotter“A youthful, open-eared quartet enlivened with a kick-ass record collection, ceiling-less imagination, ragged guitars, and songwriting chops for days.”
–Spin
Loosky – http://looksy.bandcamp.com (Tuscaloosa, AL)
“Their first collection of music, Poor Ole Devil, showed their strengths: hard driving, garage sound with stops and starts that keep things sonically interesting; Ingram’s voice, an original with hints of Jack White; powerful guitar chops; pure rock songs.”
-Well That’s Cool

Dirty Lungs/New Madrid/Great Book of John: Iron City, 9/5/13

We went to a show at the now old but new to me Iron City, and I took some pictures. Not my best work. It was probably the $3 Sam Adams cans’ fault. Or my equipment. Certainly not mine.

Friends of the site Dirty Lungs are always, always good. Seriously. You can’t see a bad Dirty Lungs show unless Carson’s car breaks down. Even then that would be pretty interesting. New Madrid, who we caught at Secret Stages this year, played a fantastic set next. The evening closed out

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with Great Book of John, but I only got to catch a few songs. They sounded great as always, I just had to get up early. So the lesser amount of pics of them can only be attributed to The Man.

An Ode to Marty’s

photo credit: J Mark Gooch for WELD Bham

I’m not sure when I set foot in Marty’s for the first time, but it was well before WorkPlay, Bottletree or Iron City were a part of Birmingham’s live music landscape. At that point, Zydeco, Five Points South Music Hall, The Nick and Ona’s were some of the only places in town to regularly see live music that wasn’t just cover bands. To be honest, I probably didn’t even go for the music the first time. I probably went for a patty melt or a grilled cheese with bacon that their late night grill was so loved for. I came back for the music though. While not everyone that ever took the stage at Marty’s was legendary or amazing, he didn’t allow any old bullshit up there either. He brought a good mix of regional talent and solid local acts (and he always gave promising young bands a shot too.) Friends’ bands played there, some of my earliest live jazz experiences were there and I even discovered a Tennessee band there called The Lazybirds that I still listen to all the time.

One of my favorite Marty’s stories involves me and some friends dropping by late one evening for a beer or two and a sandwich. We had no idea who was playing and we were happy to pay the $5 cover just to get access to the kitchen. As we were sitting there drinking beers and eating our sandwiches at a table with an obstructed view of the stage I sat there and thought, “This guy sounds really damn good for some random dude up there playing covers and the occasional original. Like REALLY good.” I left my seat to get a glimpse of this mystery performer and it turned out to be Glen Hansard, one half of The Swell Season. They’d played a very pricey show just down the street at the Stephens Center earlier that evening and Hansard apparently hadn’t gotten all of the music out of his system and asked where he might go jam some more and he was steered to Marty’s. Marty and whoever was playing that night were happy to accommodate the famous Irishman. That wasn’t an isolated incident. Though I can’t think of any other specific acts right off the top of my head, that’s the kind of thing that happened at Marty’s.

Marty Eagle, the club’s founder passed away on February 1st of this year and I found myself wondering how long it’d stay open after his passing. After 3-4 months of continuing to operate I thought, “Awesome, it’s going to keep on keeping on,” but it was announced in early August that the club would be shutting its doors on August 31st. I spent much of the month of August out of town and was sadly not able to work one last visit into my schedule after I heard it was closing. I’m kind of okay with that though as all of the memories I have from there are great ones without a hit on sadness: countless nights of stopping off for one more beer with friends, the best grilled cheese in town, famous musicians dropping in, Sunday jazz shows, leaving the place at the rising of the sun, getting snowed in there one night, etc. The list goes on and on.

Clubs come and go. It’s just the nature of the beast that is the entertainment industry. Most of them close their doors because nobody really cared that much in the first place, but that’s far from the truth with Marty’s. It was just its time to close. Though its doors may be shut, the memories made there will live in all of us forever.

On Tuscaloosa, Arts, and Things Very Loosely Related to Music.

So, I got overly sappy on Twitter and I feel I have to explain myself before doing a lazy-ass reposting of what I wrote here. I’ve lived in the city of Tuscaloosa since the age of five. (I am currently 23 years old, if you like your math.) I’m both aware of the history of my town, and naive to the continual change. I never went to the Chukker. I just graduated from the University of Alabama. I wasn’t aware of the history of Egan’s before I got here, or places like The Booth, or how much of our past is staring us in the face while we readily ignore it for another beer.

I bitched and whined not too long ago about how people view our music scene, as I think it is fantastic. People were quick to retort that I should do a blog about local music. Essentially pointing to me that this is not their job, which is fair. I did write for three years at the Crimson White and a majority of the work that I’m most proud of during that time was about Tuscaloosa music. But Tuscaloosa is also a troubling place. That is why I wrote this in a mix of fury and, I guess, inspiration. It’s all the frustration of a community that I’m still sort of trapped in and also fond of being around. It’s a mix of worry and hope.

https://twitter.com/TreyIrby/statuses/372854022861881344

Copy Cats

photo credit: Ryan Russell

I dated a guy who played in a cover band long ago. It was awful. There is nothing worse than doing your girlfriend duty and spending every Friday and Saturday night in a smoky bar, surrounded by dudes and ladies in Affliction apparel and rhinestone crosses on the asses of their jeans, listening to some amateurs shit all over your favorite Skid Row and Poison songs for 4 hours straight. So when I first heard Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” I was hesitant to suggest that my band Sloss Minor cover it; BUT WE HAD TO! It was too good and too much like our style to not even attempt it. So we did. And I know I’m biased, but I think we did a stellar job. I really do get the appeal of cover bands. Who doesn’t want to get drunk and go see a band where they know every song and can sing along at the top of their lungs? It is fun! Since my band is new to the Bham scene, and our record isn’t out yet, we knew covering a well known song was a great way to gain interest (and fans) at our live shows. So, maybe we sold our souls, and I had to eat some big, fat crow, but oh well, it was fun! And so far the new listeners to Sloss Minor have been really receptive of our cover. Next stop on our to-do list: matching wardrobes and eyeliner from Hot Topic. You can check out our cover of Daft Punk’s hit below!

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sloss Minor includes former members of Northstar & Escape Frame along with BHAMFM writer Rachael and her husband, Hot Rod Circuit & Terrible Things alum Andy Jackson. They currently live in Birmingham and own The Jackalope Studios where they record, mix & engineer records for bands the world over.