Archive for the ‘Kishi Bashi’ Category

SOUNDTRACK:공중도둑 (MID-AIR THIEF)쇠사슬 (Ahhhh, These Chains!)” (2018).

At the end of every year publications and sites post year end lists.  I like to look at them to see if I missed any albums of significance.  But my favorite year end list comes from Lars Gottrich at NPR.  For the past ten years, Viking’s Choice has posted a list of obscure and often overlooked bands.  Gottrich also has one of the broadest tastes of anyone I know (myself included–he likes a lot of genres I don’t).  

Since I’m behind on my posts at the beginning of this year, I’m taking this opportunity to highlight the bands that he mentions on this year’s list.  I’m only listening to the one song unless I’m inspired to listen to more.

공중도둑 (Mid-Air Thief) is from Korea (obviously).  Beyond that, virtually nothing is known about him (Lars confirms that it is a he, even if many of the vocals are by Summer Soul–she is his guest singer).

Mid-Air Thief makes beautiful but weird, glitchy folk music.  Every time something really lovely seems to come along, there’s always some kind of twist to make it not what you think.  This, of course, keeps everything interesting and fun.  But despite that, the whole album is bright and cheerful.  There’s feelings of Dungen and Beck and even some Kishi Bashi.  There’s even a sense of the more psychedelic Flaming Lips songs (but without the over-loud low end).

It’s really great.

“쇠사슬,” which translates into the delightfully odd “Ahhhh, These Chains!” opens with a pretty, fast-picked guitar and delicate voices.  The song builds as electronic sounds are placed throughout adding tension but never overriding the pleasantness of the guitar and soft voices.  After a slight break into a “chorus” the song resumes almost doubled in sounds and power, but never losing that sweetness.

I love how the song seems like it’s going to end after around four minutes but it still has a bashing coda to show off before it finally ends at five minutes.

Bob Boilen has sent out a plea to Mid-Air Thief to do a Tiny Desk Concert, and boy I hope that happens.

Plus how great is Mid-Air Thief’s avatar (on the left).

[READ: January 6, 2019] “It’s All Over Now”

This story is about a young woman, living alone and fearful in a sketchy part of Mexico.

Tina Reyes is the single woman.  She boards a bus to visit her friend Rosa.  She hopes Rosa is all right–Rosa had looked tired last week. Tina thinks about Rosa with her husband and children and she grows rather sad and melancholy thinking about her own life and how she will never have anything like that.

Is her status a self-fulfilling prophecy or is she just sensible about the word around her?

As soon as she gets off the bus a man approaches her.  She is freaked out by his request:

Pardon me senorita, may I walk with you? (more…)


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[ATTENDED: November 1, 2018] Guster        

It had been over two years since we’d since Guster and we were going through some withdrawal.  So it was pretty exciting that they were starting their latest tour at out favorite club in Jersey City.

We’d never seen them at the beginning of a tour before and I have to say the rest does them well.  They seemed energetic (which they usually are) but more importantly everyone’s (especially Ryan’s) voices sounded amazing–best I’ve ever heard them.

They have a new album coming out in January so we thought it might be a show of all new songs . But it wasn’t.  They played two brand new songs (and none of the singles that they’ve released so far).  The rest of the show (all 23-2 songs + two improvs) were familiar and more than welcomed.

When we saw them last time, we had seen them three times in 14 months and during those three shows they had played a ton of songs that we hadn’t heard before (or not since a decade earlier). So this show was a lot more songs that we’ve heard (which is still fine).  But with a few that were more or less new.  And of course those wonderful improvs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 31, 2018] Twain

Twain has become something of a punchline for my friends and I, because we all really disliked his set opening for Kishi Bashi.

What was bizarre was how much Kishi Bashi raved about him that night.  Then recently, Twain played SXSW and the NPR review of SXSW raved about him as well.

They said this:

 Twain’s vast, searching music conjures the cosmic folk of Tim Buckley: A welcoming, wandering rumination on life, the afterlife, loneliness and “the beauties of this earthly world,” “Solar Pilgrim” feels at once human and otherworldly. The latest project to feature singer Mt. Davidson — he’s worked with The Low Anthem, Spirit Family Reunion and others — Twain makes the kind of music that, had it been made 50 years ago, would be a cherished cult item today.

The recording they included was kind of interesting and I imagine that if he had a full band he might be more enjoyable–Darlingside said that he had had a full band on earlier shows.  They also raved about him quite a bit, even joking that it was fun to say his name–Twain–as a nonsense syllable when you had nothing else to say. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 26, 2016] Shannon Wright

2016-10-25-20-43-31My friend Andrew got us tickets to see Shellac. When I looked to see who was opening, the site listed “Shannon Wright.”  I had never heard of her.  I had t laugh that the blurb on Shellac was literally two sentences.  While Wright’s was 8 large paragraphs.

It made me excited to see her, but I had no idea what to expect.  And then she came out with just her guitar (and flashbacks to Kishi Bashi’s opener Twain came hurtling at me).

But Wright was no Twain.  She started with a looped guitar melody–rather pretty.  And then she turned it off–that appears to be her “tuning music” because once she started playing–it sounded nothing like that loop.

Wrights play a very aggressive guitar–she doesn’t strum of pick so much as pluck those string so that they slap back against the guitar.  Her low notes are percussive and her high notes are painful.  She uses no pick, so it really emphasizes this abrasive style.  Her songs have a very steady rhythm on the low notes–very easy to bob your head (or in some cases seriously headbang) along to, while the melody gets hammered out on the high strings. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 4, 2016] Kishi Bashi

2016-10-04-22-03-10This is our third time seeing Kishi Bashi, and our second time seeing him with our friends Liz and Eleanor.  We all saw him together the first time when he opened for Rodrigo y Gabriela.  And they were hooked just like we were.  They have since seen him with his string quartet, which we didn’t.  I’ve liked him so much solo that I didn’t know if I wanted to see others playing with him.  Well, Tuesday’s show was a full band and it was phenomenal.

He is an amazing solo performer with his loops and improv and his fantastic stage presence.  But when he has other people to play off of, he completely soars.  And, since he was the headliner, he added a great light show (and confetti!).  And it also mean that even though we had heard these songs live before, in this setting they were completely reworked and different.

Kishi Bashi’s newest album is the disco-infused Sonderlust in which he more or less switches from his signature violin to keyboards.  But the music, while quite different from his earlier records is still very Kishi Bashi–that voice and those melodies are unmistakable. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 4, 2016] Twain

2016-10-04-20-30-56 Kishi Bashi has been an opening act for two great bands that I’ve seen.  So I was really curious to see who his opening act would be.  I’d looked up Twain online but all I got from the brief glimpse was that it was a duo from Brooklyn.

When we got to the venue, there were some big drums and keyboards around the stage and I thought maybe they belonged to Twain.

Well, indeed, they did not, for in this show Twain was just one guy and his guitar (actually two guitars).

And his first song was very disconcerting.   Lyrically, Twain seems to come from the state-everything-I-see school of lyrics.  He mixes this with a hippy world view and a pretty big obsession with death.  And his delivery is stark and sharp and, yes, pretty unpleasant. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 24, 2015] Guster

2015-04-24 23.01.50I’ve seen Guster a few times as openers (Tori Amos, Ben Folds, Barenaked Ladies) but never as the headliner.  And it was amazing how different the band was for this show–in which the crowd was totally there for them.

Singer Ryan Miller commented on how they haven’t played the Theatre of Living Arts in  a long time–and that the fans were with them on the way up and now again on their way down (it’s unclear if he was serious or not).  The band’s “stage design” for this tour was afghans.  As you can see in the pictures, the band has afghans draped all over everything.  Ryan said that the band’s fans supplied them with all of the afghans.  They decided to totally embrace the theme and even put an afghan on one of co-singer Adam Gardner’s guitar.  I did not get a good photo of it, but there’s a great photo on Instagram of it.

Midway through the show the band mentioned that they’d been together for 24 years.  Which is pretty impressive.  The three main guys (Ryan, Adam and “Thundergod” Brian Rosenworcel on bongoes and other drums (most of which he plays with no sticks–seriously, he smashes drums and cymbals with his hands–ouch)) are sill there.  For touring they’ve added an instrumentalist Luke Reynolds and a friend of the band on drums and percussion for some songs. (more…)

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