All posts tagged: Bryce Dessner

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REVIEW: Mylets – “Arizona”

Now, that is what the fuck I’m talking about. From the first grungy, then vaguely pixelated, guitar chords of album-opener “Trembling Hands,” Arizona, the second record proper by loop-rock “band” Mylets, just grabs you by the ears and controls you. It will not let go. Unlike last year’s predecessor, Retcon, a hit-and-miss affair that showed some great ambition but as many great gaps in songwriting cred, Arizona is an incredible, enlightening, engaging, wonderful record, made all the more beautiful and accomplished by the fact that it is the product of one man and one man alone, post-Tween uber-guitar-structuralist Henry Kohen. Now, let it be read into the record: Kohen always has had guitar chops. Anybody who ever has watched the guy on YouTube (Click here and here) or wondered how he stirs that brand of magic and mysticism from a series of whiz-bang sound-effects pedals knows this as drop-dead fact. But Arizona reveals him to be a songwriter of emotion beyond his years and also of surprising depth. Songs are ruminations more than collections of verses …

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Last Things Last: A Rachel Grimes Profile

Rachel Grimes knew how to play the piano before she learned to walk. “My dad and grandmother played, so I was always sitting beside them following along, watching and listening in wonder at how they could make that magic,” the composer/pianist told me recently from the home she and her husband, educator Alec Johnson, share in the rustic countryside north of Louisville. “I took piano lessons, but mostly played by ear, movie and TV themes. I got a little more serious about classical music in middle school, though I was never interested in competitions. When I was 15, I was working part-time in the record department of a book-store and joined a rock band formed by the music department manager.” A decade later, in the mid ‘90s, Grimes gained wide-spread notoriety beyond her native Louisville by fronting a ground-breaking chamber ensemble that bore her name but was minted without her in mind. She’s been busy ever since, and now plans to release her second solo outing, a collection of chamber ensemble and piano music tentatively …

CD Review: The National, “High Violet”

I’m sure it is a little bittersweet when your band has its highest debut ever –#3 to be exact —  on the Billboard 200 album chart with its new, critically-acclaimed album, and the record that still sits at the top is from…Justin Bieber. I wonder if after celebrating the success of their new album, High Violet — perhaps with a delicious meal and a few beers — they discussed finding Bieber, shaving his head and throwing him into a dumpster like in some ’80s movie where the underdog gets revenge on the bully.  I’m guessing they’re more mature than I am. Though High Violet is the National’s fifth studio album, it is also an album of firsts — it’s the their first record since their brilliant 2007 release, Boxer; it is their first album on the 4AD label; and it is their first record to be recorded in their own studio in Brooklyn. In a little over 10 years, the National — who now reside in Brooklyn, but hail from my hometown of Cincinnati — …

Live Music: St. Vincent @ MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati, 3/31/10

Night two of the 2010 MusicNOW festival was the night I was most looking forward to. I am a huge fan of St. Vincent, the name under which young guitar virtuoso Annie Clark performs, and I was blown away by her live show when I saw her perform last year. But St. Vincent’s set wasn’t the only thing I was excited about. That night, a special commissioned piece composed by Clark would be performed by contemporary music ensemble yMusic. For this show, I chose to sit on the floor, just a few rows back from the stage. The last time I had seen St. Vincent, my vantage point was in the balcony of that venue, so I wanted the opportunity to see her up-close this time. As it had the night before, the evening began with Bryce Dessner welcoming everyone to the show. He gave a little background of the festival and recognized the patrons who had helped keep it going. He also discussed teenage Cincinnati musician Esme Kenney, who was brutally murdered during last …

CD Review: Various Artists, “Dark Was the Night” and “War Child Presents Heroes”

It’s no secret that tribute albums and charity compilations can be hit-or-miss affairs at best. In the case of the latter, all you can really do is be happy that you’re supporting a good cause, and hope that the music is more hit than miss. Two important charity albums have recently appeared, and when I say important, I don’t just mean for the causes they’re helping, but also for the virtual who’s who of contemporary indie artists that has contributed tracks to them. If you could somehow assemble all of the buzz that these artists have collected, you could light the universe. In other words, to the naked eye, it’s a music blogger’s dream. The Red Hot Organization has been using pop culture to fight the good fight against AIDS since 1989. They have released 14 albums together with related television shows and media events, and have raised $7 million to date. Their most recent project is called Dark Was the Night (4AD Records). It’s an enormous 30-song effort that has been curated by brothers …