Pageants & Laetitia Sadier @ Culture Collide, Day 3 10/6/12

Text by Christopher Dreisbach
Photos by Aida Daneshvar


90’s nostalgists Pageants played solid indie pop tunes with a winsome attitude. This isn’t the kind of band that’s going to generate superficial, vacuous buzz but it is the kind of band that I want to support and jam out to on a Sunday morning.


Sadier is a worldwide musical treasure with or without Stereolab. Gorgeous, mellow songs with a deep emotional resonance. I felt so overwhelmed after Sadier dedicated a tune to the late Trish Keenan. Despite a broken bass string (props to Pageants’ drummer for saving the night with a replacement bass) this was an inspired, sublime performance.

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Of Montreal @ Culture Collide, Day 3 10/6/12

Text by Christopher Dreisbach
Photos by Aida Daneshvar


Ok, so I’ve avoided this band forever. I’ve never heard a single track of theirs (except from that Outback Steakhouse commercial) and I’ve never felt the need to. Well, shame on me. Kevin Barnes is a true showman; lyrics just explode out of him. The band was tight and playful. The theatricality was cute but not annoying. It’s not that I didn’t want to like it but I was surprised how great this show was.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra & School of Seven Bells @ Culture Collide, Day 2 10/5/12

Text by Christopher Dreisbach
Photos by Aida Daneshvar


It’s been about five years since I’ve seen School of Seven Bells live. In that time they seem to have refined their sound into an even more dance-friendly blend of shoegaze and dream-pop. It worked well in the cavernous expanse of the echoplex and I found myself grinning and dancing along.


One of the best power-trios I’ve seen live. U.M.O. frontman Ruban Nielson has the acidic edge of psych-rock down pat. Throbbing bass, treble-y sinister guitar, and galloping drum patterns undulate in an infectious and nervy fashion. Keep an eye out for these guys.

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Patrick Wolf & Zola Jesus @ Culture Collide, Day 2 10/5/12

Patrick Wolf [photo by Aida Daneshvar]

Patrick Wolf [photo by Aida Daneshvar]

Zola Jesus [photo by Aida Daneshvar]

Zola Jesus [photo by Aida Daneshvar]

Zola Jesus [photo by Aida Daneshvar]

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Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500) @ Culture Collide, Day 1 10/4/12

 Text by Christopher Dreisbach
Photos by Aida Daneshvar


This show alone was worth the price of admission to the festival…and then some. Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are the reigning king and queen of alt-guitar music as far as I’m concerned (sorry, Thurston and Kim). Kicking off with the classic “Flowers”, Galaxie 500’s set blew my mind and heart wide open. Watching these songs live, I realized how simple some of the guitar parts are and yet the mixture of musical ingredients are unique and emotionally overpowering. It was a perfect set and the enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd was the least that we could give back to these generous legends.

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Coldair, Kyst, & Drug Cabin @ Culture Collide, Day 1 10/4/12

Text by Christopher Dreisbach
Photos by Aida Daneshvar


Such a pleasant set from Tobiasz Biliński’s Coldair. Delicately plucked guitars brushed up against anthemic trumpet and trombone harmonies. Biliński’s not-overly-precious-but-still-pretty coo fit snugly with the overall melodic, light post-rock vibe despite the fact that he was battling a cold. The lyrics were solid but I wondered if any of the bands from abroad would sing in their native tongues.


The art-ier, more expressionistic cousin of Coldair (in fact, the group featured Tobiasz Biliński and Adam Byczkowski from Coldair), Ludwig Plath’s Kyst was a highlight of the festival for me. The group built epic compositions from interlaced drum patterns (each member plays drums), ghostly guitar, electronic samples, and three part harmonies. The band expertly mined the territory between cinematic post-rock and otherworldly folk. This was fitting music for a church.


This band instantly won me over in part because of their lackadaisical yet efficient sound-check. I’ve honestly never seen a band take so little time to sound-check and still sound so good. The best way I can describe Drug Cabin’s sound is “indie rock Grateful Dead”…in the best way possible. With a name like “Drug Cabin”, I was expecting something a bit more damaged or chaotic, but these gentlemen offered breezy, melodic gems with a wily slacker’s charm.

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Polaris @ The Orpheum Theatre 8/28/12

The curtain was drawn on a brilliantly lit astroturf lawn, topped with a white picket fence and push-mower and bike. Mark Mulcahy, shaggy hair and giant boots, looking like some blissful hippie hobo clown, ripped into that most glorious power pop theme tune that is imprinted in the mind of every misfit and latch-key kid of my generation. The sound was pristine and the band played flawlessly. The audience sat pinned to their seats not because the songs weren’t danceworthy, but more out of respect and awe for the music. That holy music! So gorgeous and achingly beautiful! The band grinned and rocked and bobbed as they stirred up the leaves of our tree-lined suburban childhood spirits. It was like some quiet sentimental orgy, Mulcahy’s rich and wavering voice striking the perfect frequency, activating our mid-90s nostalgia g-spots, and for an hour we radiated waves of sheer delight.

Nick Cullen

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Euros Childs – Summer Special

Ah, what a wonderful summer surprise to open my e-mail this morning and see Euros Childs’s beautiful beaming face, popping out of colorful striped floaty no less.

Euros today has released his seventh solo album, Summer Special, a sparkling set of his characteristically masterful pop tunes. As the title and cover suggest, this outing with Mr.Childs is a joyous occasion. Song titles like “Good Feeling,” “Be Be High,” and “That’s Better” give ample indication of what an up album this is. The production is bright and buoyant, reminiscent of of latter-day Gorky’s (in fact, that sounds like Megan Childs on violin in about half of the songs). There’s everything you could want from an Euros Childs album: beautifully skewed ballads (“These Dreams of You”), rollicking rockers (“Roogie Boogie,” “Around and Around”), a plaintive folky song (“Skipping and Dancing”), a song in Welsh (“Clap a Chan”), and of course, lovely harmonies abound.

A very summery and special album indeed!

Download it here:

Nick Cullen

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UMA feat. Silver Apples

Berlin’s UMA have just released their EP “Drop Your Soul”, available for download on soundcloud

For more info:

Tour Dates:

04.08.2012 Salzburg, Stuck! Festival w/Light Asylum, Purity Ring..
02.09.2012 Berlin, Torstraßen Festival
20.09.2012 Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg w/Dan Deacon
07.10.2012 Vienna, Waves Festival

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Interview with Elizabeth Butters

Elizabeth Butters is an NYC based musician, originally from Concord, MA. Elizabeth “suffers from nostalgia and false sympathies of the past”, though she has realized she would have felt out of place in any era. Her sweet and delicate vocals, simple guitar playing, and dulcimer create raw and beautiful folk songs. Her take on murder ballads of the past suits her so well, you might think she was born to do it. She’s a picture of class and beauty, in style, personality, and in her music. I spoke with Elizabeth about these things and more:

AD: When did you become interested in murder ballads? Did you learn guitar to
specifically play murder ballads?

Elizabeth Butters: I became interested in murder ballads as a middle and high schooler. I’ve always been very fascinated by serial killers and horror movies- I watched The Shining weekly when I was ten- and becoming entranced by songs of murder seemed like a natural progression. I didn’t learn the guitar to play murder ballads. I learned the dulcimer first, when I was sixteen, and for the first year or so after that I mainly played instrumentals.

AD: Your beautiful wardrobe and overall aesthetic suggests that you belong in
a different era. I’ve heard you say this as well. What is it about this
era that makes you feel out of place?

EB: I don’t know whether I feel out of place in this era or just out of place in general. I’m not sure I’m ever going to be in-step with the process of settling down, which is something that was expected of people more in the early twentieth century than now.

One thing I get particularly tripped up by is what I and many others view as the disposable culture caused by the Internet and digital technology. I became preoccupied with documentation when I was about fourteen, following the news that my grandmother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I was very convinced that I needed to make scrapbooks, record voices, and write everything down so that I had a resource if I started to develop dementia.

My dad was sort of a star athlete in high school and college and his Grandmother saved all of his clippings. I have them now and I look at them from time to time. I’m sad that no matter what I do, nobody will have made or saved clippings of mine when I’m older. I think that for an artist it is more difficult to feel one’s achievements now that paper trails are becoming more and more spare. Less and less of what we’re working with is palpable and more of it’s invisible. Getting a write-up or a song on the Internet for instance feels very fleeting. For me it’s easy to feel lost and want to give up in this type of culture.

In terms of clothing and general aesthetics, I do believe that things were made better visually and made to last longer thirty, forty, fifty years ago. Dresses flattered the feminine silhouette better and even the simplest design displayed a great attention to detail. Film had wonderful contrast and color in a way that’s rarely, if ever, reproduced in the digital medium. In terms of music, it’s not a random coincidence that the records from the 50s and 60s sound so great- there were better producers who knew how to use the equipment. I could go on and on but I won’t. . .

AD: I know you consider yourself a writer before a musician. Are you writing
anything right now?

EB: I’m trying to write a short story about a pet mail-order frog I had as a child, named Fizz.

AD: What’s your favorite way to express yourself?

EB: I think I best express myself in the objects I collect and the way I arrange them in my room- I guess it’s sort of like art therapy? Other than that, I think talking gets a lot across.

AD: You’ve been in some films, including a documentary about murder ballads
called “American Murder Ballads.” What was that experience like for you?
Do you see yourself doing more in the film world?

EB: I’ve loved working in films. It’s great to be part of a team and to work with a director whose vision you trust. When I’m working alone, I fall easily into long bouts of laziness and inertia and end up setting things aside for later until later becomes never. Collaborations are a great way to get things done while (hopefully) having fun socially. I also find that being somewhat confined is good for the creative juices.

AD: If you could live anywhere, where would you go?

EB: There are many places I’d like to travel to- like Yellowstone National Park – but in terms of living, I’m a homebody. My dad has a house in New Hampshire, built in 1784 up on a hill in the forest, where we’ve been going since I was born. I think that’s the place I’d like to end up, especially if we’re able to get horses.

AD: Dream collaboration?

EB: I’d love to meet Jean Ritchie first and foremost, and then I’m not quite sure, because famous people can be very intimidating! Some of my favorite photographers and musicians are people I’ve already met, like my friends Jason Eskenazi, John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers, and yourself. I’d really like to act in a period film or TV show- maybe someone out there has a connection?

AD: Do you have any original music or plan to make some in the near future?

EB: No, however I’m working on a couple of projects, one of which is an album of spooky traditional children’s songs which I plan to title, “Songs for Brave Children.’

For more about Elizabeth Butters, or to listen to/purchase her music, please visit

♥ aida

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