Future Islands Singer Recalls When He Sang His Breakup Album to His Ex

Categories: Indie Rock

Mike Vorassi
Future Islands leave it all on the table.

Some musicians' greatest fears are rooted in the sophomore slump, stolen gear, public ridicule, or an overarching sense of failure. Of all, one of the most challenging and frightening times for an artist is having to play their music for the muse that inspired it, especially if its connotations are less than positive. It can rattle a songwriter to their core.

Samuel T. Herring knows this scenario well, having lived through it in the most exposing and voyeuristic of fashions in a small Philadelphia show in March of 2010. It happened just as his band, Future Islands, began to experience success with In Evening Air, a record he penned around a failed relationship that fractured due to constraints out of the couple's control.

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What's in a Band Name Like Viet Cong?

Categories: Indie Rock

Colin Way
Is it insensitive to name your band after a group responsible for the deaths of thousands? Viet Cong doesn't think so.

Post-punk strung through an art-rock meat grinder, Viet Cong is the resuscitated project from two members (vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Mike Wallace) of the heavily eulogized noise-rock band Women. Transitioning has been less than smooth for VC, however -- there was a rather infamous onstage fight between Flegel and his brother Pat, as well as the death of Women's guitarist, Christopher Reimer, in 2012. Oh, and there was that time that Flegel electrocuted himself before a set and blood started leaking from his ears.

"I haven't noticed anything permanent . . . it was pretty scary for a few days, though. I looked like the little kid from Jurassic Park when he got shocked off the fence," Flegel, Viet Cong's vocalist and bassist, says dryly of the incident, which was the influence for the post-apocalyptic song "Silhouettes."

"I made it through the whole set," Flegel adds. "By the end of it, I was just completely disoriented, like I had no idea what was happening. I couldn't hear my voice. I don't think it would've been the best show to watch us. Probably sounded close to garbage."

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The Hourglass Cats Shift Musically on Pair of New Singles

Marcus Eden
Jason Sessler (left) and Cori Rios of The Hourglass Cats in a still from their new video for "Be That Way"

The Hourglass Cats are leaning more rock 'n' roll than ever after the Saturday evening release of their two new tracks "Be That Way," and "Been Thinkin" at Tempe's C.A.S.A. SunBá. There isn't even a hint of THC's early reggae and ska influences, as the tracks go in a far more garage rock directions that almost borders on punk.

"The show went very well. It was a good time," says Cori Rios, lead singer and guitarist of THC. "You know how in Phoenix how there's always that gap between the stage and the crowd? That gap was about two inches at C.A.S.A., which is what we like and what we dig on. People I've never seen before and I know don't know our friends were, like, attentively watching our video on this 80-inch screen."

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White Arrows Talks the Difficulties of Being a Band Among DJs

Categories: Indie Rock

Angel Ceballos
White Arrows

White Arrows frontman Mickey Church approached writing the band's latest, In Bardo, as though it were the end of his musical world on Earth. The result: a playfully quirky, anything-goes-into-a-pop-song groove inhabiting the album from start to finish.

"I didn't really know or care what was going to happen after this," Church says. "I treated this as if this were going to be the last album I was going to make, and I wanted it to be something I was proud of. Beyond that, it's out of my control. It was actually liberating [to think] whatever happens happens. There was no sacrifice. Whatever I wanted to say -- whatever I wanted to do -- on this record, I did. I know it sounds kind of vulnerable, and it's a little bit hard to talk about, but it's all about just going for it."

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The Dum Dum Girl Explains Why There's Now a Dum Dum Boy

Categories: Indie Rock

James Orlando
The Dum Dum Girls play Crescent Ballroom tomorrow.

Cohesion is the name of the game for Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee Penny nowadays.

Though you might know the band because of its highly acclaimed first album, I Will Be, the band's sound has morphed four years later from a lo-fi, surf vibe heavy on female vocal harmonies to a style that showcases Penny's solo vocals, backed by darker, yet more polished '80s and '90s 

"In the beginning, I was kind of hiding behind a wall of sound," Penny says.

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Twilight Sad's Uplifting Melancholy Separates Them From Their Scottish Peers

Categories: Indie Rock

Nicola Collins
Twilight Sad

It's tempting to refer to 2014's Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, the Twilight Sad's fourth LP, as their return-to-guitar-rock record. Their last full-length effort, 2012's underrated No One Can Ever Know, was saddled with a similarly reductive byline: their synthesizer record.

Both are accurate-ish, but gloss over the continuity of the Twilight Sad's seven-year career, where icy, claustrophobic melodies have always been a given. If anything, Nobody's an amalgam of their previous work's highlights, or perhaps a reconciliation of their varied tendencies: their alienated and cinematic lyrical precision, the punishing noisiness of their sophomore album, and, okay, the soaring, reverbed guitars. Perhaps the biggest draw across all of their records remains frontman James Graham's vocals, his Scottish brogue so damn thick and his Rs so rolled that it sounds like a disconsolate Scrooge McDuck covering Cure deep-cuts.

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Take Shots with Tennis' Grandma at Crescent Ballroom Concert

Categories: Indie Rock


Husband-and-wife duo Tennis (Aliana Moore and Patrick Riley) is as excited as ever to return to familiar soil to share their new album live with some recognizable faces.

Their new and third album, Ritual in Repeat, is reminiscent of 1980s girl-pop: hints of Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and Pat Benatar can be heard in Moore's voice. The album features production notes from Richard Swift, Jim Eno (Spoon), and Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), the latter two drummers. Adding James Barone on drums bumped up the album from past Tennis works.

Moore took some time to answer some questions from Up On the Sun.

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OK Go's Music Videos Still Reliably Inventive

Categories: Indie Rock

Gus Powell

From treadmills to paint guns, OK Go has always been pushing the creative envelope with DIY music videos. For their latest single "The Writing's On the Wall" from their new Hungry Ghosts album, they were faced with the challenge to pushing the envelope a little further.

Using more than 20 illusions, 70 crew members, and going through about six takes before deciding on "the one," the music video for "The Writing's On the Wall" weaves in and out and over and under through a warehouse of carefully-placed shapes, carefully-painted walls, and delicately-planned timing to portray the one-shot wonders of OK Go's collective imagination.

"Most of our work was in pre-production: making sure odds and ends lined up, the timing of movement was perfect, and that the pace cohesively flowed around the room," explains Tim Nordwind of OK Go. "In post-production, we did just a bit of color correction to make some of the colors pop out more, and eliminated some shakiness."

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Searching for the Human Side of Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes

Categories: Indie Rock

Courtesy photo
Of Montreal

It's noon on a Friday and I'm sitting in my living room. Laptop is on my lap, my phone is plugged in, and Garage Band is open as I begin to type the project's title: Kevin Barnes. I'm not ready. It feels like my blood has been put through a SodaStream and pumped back into my body carbonated.

If you don't know, Barnes is the singer and songwriter of the Georgia band of Montreal, which began as Barnes' solo project but quickly added members. Of Montreal's performances became increasingly opera-like, with elaborate visual art setpieces, and Barnes quickly made a name for himself such stage antics as cross-dressing and performing naked. However, it's his heart-wrenching, bookish lyrics set contrastingly to funky, danceable music that gives the band its enduring appeal.

I can't do this. I run to my kitchen and pour a shot of mezcal. I go outside and chain-smoke three cigarettes. My hands are shaking more than their typical mild tremor. I take another shot. Maybe that was a bad idea. Maybe this was all a terrible idea. What did I sign up for?

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How Metronomy 
Frontman Joseph Mount Got Scooped by Daft Punk

Categories: Indie Rock


When Joseph Mount of London-based Metronomy listened to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, he realized he'd have to change the direction of "Boy Racers," the most upbeat song on his band's 2013 album, Love Letters. He had intended to have the song include a German narrator speaking about how fast boy racers can go, but when he heard the helmeted duo's "Giorgio by Moroder," on which the architect of disco himself tells his life story over grooves created by the electronic music icons, Mount wasn't sure where he wanted to go with the song.

"The whole premise and outcome of the song would have been very different [from Daft Punk's]," Mount says. "The reason why I had been thinking about it was because we had been spending a lot of time in Germany. There's something about the language and its delivery that always seemed quite nice, like Kraftwerk, with the German monotone voice."

The track became an instrumental piece. "Boy Racers" really didn't need vocals on it, anyway. It's the perfect standout song on an innovative electronic album that looks for warmth in analog. Love Letters, inspired by '60s psychedelia and '70s soul, was recorded at East London's Toe Rag Studios, where all recording is done on magnetic tape (White Stripes recorded Elephant there). This forced Mount to take his time with the songs.

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