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KZSC at Shaky Knees!

It’s been a little over a week since Shaky Knees has come to an end so it’s time to look back at all the great bands that played in the humble city of Hotlanta. I flew across country to check out what I thought was the best festival lineup I’ve seen thus far. With headliners, The Strokes, The Avett Brothers, and finishing off the weekend with Tame Imapala, this weekend was filled with great music and great people everywhere you turned. Southern hospitality is not a joke around here, this is the friendliest festival around.

Surfer Blood kicked off this three-day long festival, missing guitarist Thomas Fekete, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and has been unable to join the band for their tour. The band set up a Go Fund Me to raise money for the alternative treatment plan that is needed to treat this cancer. The South Floridian band just released their new album 1000 Palms this past Tuesday and played a few of their new songs during their set. It was a perfect start to this hot weekend with their sunny, surf rock, poppy tunes
that are reminiscent of a nice, cool day at the beach.

Tennis, which consists of husband and wife Alaina Moore and James Barone, wooed the crowd with Moore’s charming voice and the band’s airy rhythms as everyone got to cool off under the shade. The band recently came out with a deluxe edition of their album Ritual in Repeat on May 12. We had a chance to talk to Alaina a few days before the festival so listen in on what she had to say.

 

Mac Demarco always knows how to entertain a crowd. He began by singing happy birthday to one of his bandmates and later on fixed his guitar strings as his other bandmate belched Yellow by Coldplay along with the crowd and finished off by crowd surfing at the end of his set.

The crowd waited as The Strokes were 15 minutes late, but it’s THE Strokes, they can do whatever the hell they want. Julian Casablancas seemed to be in his drunken state as usual, but everything was still so beautiful; from the stage lights where all you could see is their silhouettes with slight glimpses of the band from time to time to the off-beat singing, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  As Rolling Stones put it, “if he weren’t a rock star, he’d be the neighborhood drunk with a heart of gold (Vadukul).” Mac Demarco did make an appearance on stage but did not perform with the band as others have reported. All in all, seeing The Strokes was a life changing experience and it was an amazing end to the first day of the festival.

Real Estate were the dreamy selves they were. Their hazy sound complimented the dusty haze in the air, except it was actually bright and sunny during their set and not so hazy at all, but it did feel like it as the sweat dripped down everyone’s faces into their eyes… but it was a nice way to start off day 2 of the festival as the rest of the day would be hot and muggy with a lot of dancing for the rest of it, especially with FIDLAR following.

FIDLAR WAS REALLY FUN. The band played a few of their new songs from the new album they’re working on, and ended with Cocaine as they normally do. But it’s always a sad time when they don’t play Cheap Cocaine, but definitely a fun set nonetheless. Neutral Milk Hotel performed live as the sun set and the rays shined through the clouds as the crowd swayed back and forth. It was a spiritual experience. That’s all I have to say. I took sneaky pictures of the band, I’m sorry… I just really had to capture the moment.

The Avett Brothers created a beautiful crowd. Everyone sang along and danced together. There was just so much love in the air.

Tame Impala was the perfect end to this three day weekend and is always a crowd pleaser with their trippy visuals and atmospheric sounds that surely epitomized the atmosphere of the festival that night.  It was definitely a great way to mellow out from the hustle and bustle of the weekend.

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Regulating Our Local Music Scene with a Legend of the Bay – by DJ Jazzy Jefe

The last place I’d ever expect to find myself on a miscellaneous Tuesday night is on stage during Warren G’s 21+ show watching him drop regulate, a 90s gem that’s aged like wine. The life of a KZSC DJ can be an unpredictable one as I learned that night. It all started with a call from our very own broadcast advisor Keith that very day asking if I was interested in conducting an interview with Rappin-4-Tay at the Warren G show that night. I gazed down at my half finished Blaxploitation essay on Blacula, but knowing I’d never get this opportunity again accepted the responsibility. I churned out what I could of my paper and headed to the venue. That’s when it hit me. I looked down at my ticket and it read 21+. My 20th birthday is later this month, so I likely had no business covering this event. I called the contact number I was given and reassured my age would not be a problem.

When I got to the venue I was greeted by Chris, manager of the local studio digital recordings, which operates on Mission Street. He gave me my all access wristband and really made me feel comfortable in an environment that would have been overwhelming otherwise. He immediately introduced me to Rappin-4-Tay. Something that immediately struck me about 4-Tay was the way the community responded to him. When he entered he was greeted by countless hi fives, handshakes, and friends hollering at him to help them enter the venue. It was clear he had a natural charisma and reveled in the love he received from fans. I managed to squeeze in a short interview with him where he discussed his new project, what it takes to stay in the game, and his experience with the late great Rick James. His set was fantastic, and his seminal hit The Playaz Club still gets audiences bouncing over 20 years after its release.

After 4-Tays set Chris texted me alerting me that Warren G had arrived if I was interested in inquiring about an interview. Chris got me past the steel door separating the backstage from the greenroom. Warren G was there with his family and close friends. I didn’t want to impose so I let Chris do the talking. Alas it was clear Warren’s intention was to give the audience a show first and foremost, but he could chat after. The set was surreal as I was encouraged to come onstage as the greenroom entirely emptied onto the stage. It’s clear Warren G still has all the technical skill on the mic and stage presence that landed him the triple platinum Regulate…G Funk Era in 1994. Of stage however its clear the man values his privacy. Whenever the green room door swung open he was the first to remind security to close it. He respectfully declined my interview request, so I thanked him for allowing me to be a part of his show and allowed him to relax and enjoy the rest of his night. I was invited to the after part at Digital Recordings, but still had that Blacula essay looming over my head keeping me from participating. Nevertheless it was a night I’ll never forget.

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KZSC Album Reviews: Chloe by Matthew Azrieli

An EP (extended play) sits in the realm between a single and an album; anything from 2 to 6 songs qualifies. Matthew Azrieli’s “Chloe” is at the outer limit. Six indie folk rock love songs in a row, so it has an album feel to it anyway. Now, I will confess a strong dislike of love songs that do not have a tinge of sadness or pain in the lyrics. Fortunately for us, these songs are not kitten fluffy, and the words are backed up with musical skill and complexity. Oh baby, that trumpet was layered in just right. My first impression of the vocals not having enough range was wrong, especially when I got to the last track, Where Are You Tonight. The only track that fell flat for me was the shortest one, Baby It’s Hard (Not To Love You). It was an abrupt departure stylistically from the rest of the EP; an add-on. It did not seem as genuine as the other 5 tracks and should have been left out. Nonetheless, Matthew Azrieli and his crew are putting together some fine work. Relax your ear and tune it in.

– by David Anton Savage

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KZSC Show Reviews: Mikal Cronin

The notion that Monday’s are destined to terminally suck, no matter what you do, can be quickly unraveled by a mad, impulsive dash up the Highway in search of adventure and rad tunes. Luckily for me, a surprise stop by renowned rocker Mikal Cronin at Felton’s dingy dive bar Don Quixote’s gave me the perfect opportunity to do just that. As I was soon to see for sure, Mondays don’t really get much better than sipping an ice cold beer and watching one of your favorite artists serenade you and 15 others in a quiet bar nestled far from any major metropolitan area.

 


I arrived with a buddy at Don Quixote’s shortly after opening, having been forced to backtrack due to a road closure on Highway 9. The vibe was tranquil; the bar was mostly empty, aside from a few regulars and the members of the band watching the Giants game on the Flatscreen in the corner. It was only 10 minutes after doors, however; who knows what could happen. So, like any warm-blooded American would do, we bought a beer and waited for the inevitable awesomness that would begin at any moment.
Opening for Mikal Cronin were Fine Points, a band that the singer described as “from San-Francisco… ish.” Sonically, they resembled a dope combination of Surfer Blood and White Fence; an amalgamation of indie-surf jams and shoegaze fuzz. The band members mostly refused to take their eyes off the floor, but the rowdy late-show stage presence of the rhythm guitarist/singer set the stage for Mikal Cronin, who came on after a punctual gear setup.
Cronin’s set, one of the more intimate concert experiences of recent memory, was above all else a testament to his rock n roll prowess. Opening with the first two tracks off his new album, MCIII (Out May 4th on Merge Records), Mikal and his band . He then went into an old favorite, “Apathy”, a catchy as hell fuzz-punk jam off his self-titled first record. He broke a string on his beautiful 12-string guitar towards the end, and immediately went about tuning it at the end of the song, whistling as he worked.
“We’re glad you’re here!” shouted a girl in the front row. At that point I counted 18 people, including myself, in attendance.
“Yea, thanks for coming!” Mikal said, still tuning his guitar. “This is a real chill show. Super intimate, I love it.”
The rest of Cronin’s set was a carefully calculated mix between favorites from his first two albums and potential hits off his newest release, MCIII. Released on May 5th from Merge Records, Cronin’s newest effort sees the culmination of the creative trends embarked upon on his last album, MCII. Venturing far from the Garage Rock scene that birthed him (Before launching a solo career he has consistently performed as part of Ty Segall’s backing band), Cronin’s album and live performance rejects the fuzzed-out norm of said scene in place of piano driven melodies, clean production, and a B-Side “Concept Album” of sorts, chronicling a critical juncture in the musicians life. Cronin also experiments with a variety of sounds on his new album, including the use of a Greek Instrument known as a tzouras. Once again, the album sees nearly all of the recording and songwriting credit going to Mikal, a clear indicator of his musical prowess.
The show continued to go on without a hitch, as the small audience was mesmerized at the very thought of practically being serenaded by such talent. Finishing off the set with the song “Change” from MCII, Cronin said his thanks and began to triumphantly walk off the stage. It didn’t take more than a second for the small crowd to begin politely demanding an encore. Mikal and co returned with wide smiles on their faces, as if they were fraternity kids about to get into some crazy shenanigans.
“Alright” he smirked, “We’ve NEVER played this live before. It’s a cover” His bassist looked at him cautiously, mouthing the words “dude, are we even tuned?” before laughing and letting out a satisfying “oh, fuck it lets do it!” What followed was a tremendous Cronin-esque cover of Big Star’s “Ballad of El Goodo”, a power pop staple, covered by a garage rock artisan. The set was one for the books as is, but this small addition really capped off the whole experience.
After the end, my friends and I got a chance to meet Mikal and his band out in front of the venue. It’s always fun getting to bullshit with a musician you’re really into, and his laid back demeanor went hand in hand with the intimate set we had just witnessed. We also pointed out that this date of the tour wasn’t even listed on his website, as a possible explanation to the small turnout.
“Oh… shit, I guess that explains it!” He laughed.
We left Don Quixote’s that night relatively pleased. We were not only content that we had just seen and met one of the pre-eminent musicians in the California Garage Rock world, but also stoked that we had officially made Monday, for lack of a better expression, our bitch.

 

– Written by Alec Whitson

Jeff Richman's latest release Hotwire.

Album Review: Hotwire by Jeff Richman

 

Jeff Richman's latest release Hotwire.

Jeff Richman’s latest release Hotwire packs some funky punches but also contains restrained, ballad-like pieces of fusion.

As soon as the sprightly melody of “Hit Spot,” the first track of Jeff Richman’s latest album, emerges with electrifying excitement, you might expect a great jazz-rock fusion album that updates the genre from the early days of Miles and Zappa. The punching vamp reminds me specifically of Miles’s Tribute to Jack Johnson, reaching out with palpable spunk; but a gentle atmosphere still invites us, the listeners, in. But this is the most psychedelic or near psychedelic the album gets. Following the flight of “Hit Spot,” we land on the ground for a funky jam called “Seven Up.” It is a great start to an album that jams, grooves, flies, and ruminates.

Richman polished a funk-rock-jazz gem in “Oh, Yeah?” The hybrid nature of this song reflects the general album: plenty of wandering, hints of fury, and plenty of joy. This song sounds like a great jam edited down to the best parts. Elements of traditional jazz pop up in a few songs, but last only until Richman steps in with his guitar, a dominant feature of the entire slickly-produced album. That’s one gripe I have: a little more dissonance or wah-wah would have endeared this album more to youngsters. The first track on the album suggests a fairly brave, bold fusion but by the third track, it’s clear that this is not teenage angst-ridden jazz fusion. This is the kind you could drive with and zone out with pleasantly.

Jeff Richman’s fusion brews elements of music that are not threatening: rock guitar, funky bass lines, grooves with calm piano intros and new-age guitar-vocal harmony vamps. The stylish guitar soloing on the album is sublime and soaring at points, unimaginative and too restrained at others. One song, “Little Waves,” fits its title so well that you can imagine a bird’s eye view of a drive down Highway 1 with foam-crested blue massaging the cliffs. The enjoyable jams on the album make every revisit worthwhile.