Once the first domino falls in a budding Mew phase, lead singer Jonas Bjerre will quickly become the narrator of your dreams. His falsetto embeds itself beneath the skin and, viciously, the surrealist lyrics will seed your mind to bloom shortly thereafter.

And that’s just the vocals folks: this full-fledged, four-piece used to be filled out with Bo Madsen on lead, Johan Wohlert on bass and Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen on drums. They’re an experimental force of nature whom, after twenty years, have perfected the act of bludgeoning pop music over the head.

Mew’s eighth album, “Visuals,” is the best pop album of the year so far – bar none.

Nearing the tail-end of their most recent tour, the Pennsylvania-based Balance and Composure visited Launchpad to promote Light We Made, the follow up to the 2013 breakout The Things We Think We’re Missing. The latter brought with it near universal acclaim. Having never seen the band live or even heard their music before, I decided to immerse myself in the groovy alt-rock sound that has won the band so much acclaim.

Honestly, I was not too impressed.

They find themselves among a myriad of other rock bands today who fail to shatter any barriers or create something truly innovative. They are more than musically capable, but, much like the group’s name, there is little that makes them stand out from the rest.

Treehouse Basement formed in 2014 and have since been consistently slapping Albuquerque in the face with catchy, desert-fused indie-pop. Their take on contemporary music has a habit of animating audiences, quite often evoking people to move and groove regardless if they want to or not. 

You may have found the Basement in various venues across the Albuquerque as they've established their sound by taking cues from Two Door Cinema Club, Interpol and early Mutemath. I coerced Treehouse to come talk about how life is in the Basement; all things music, recording and ‘90s cartoon shows.

One of the real privileges of listening to Perfume Genius, aka singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas, is that: as you progress through all four of his albums, you begin to feel like you’re watching somebody grow up and become comfortable with who they are. Listening to his 2010 debut album Learning, I can hear all of his insecurities bubbling to the surface, an insular man speaking his mind for the first time. On his latest record, No Shape, the butterfly has left the cocoon and fully spread its wings. Hadreas’ signature croon remains prevalent on every track, but a new kind of explosive confidence penetrates through.

Where previous albums relied on subtle emotion to drive home the message, Perfume Genius delivers a transcendental bombshell that showcases the Tacoma, Washington native at his most mature and poignant. “Otherside” and “Slip Away," the two opening tracks, are unlike anything Hadreas has released before. They unexpectedly explode with an earthquake of drums and synths

Q&A: Mike Vennart (Oceansize, British Theatre, Solo Artist)

A few weeks ago, I interviewed a personal idol of mine. He’s the former lead singer/guitarist of the rock band, Oceansize — which broke up in 2010 — who has since released a solo record and started an experimental electronic group. Prior to Biffy Clyro’s live show in Phoenix, in which he plays supporting live guitar, I emailed him and got a response, agreeing to an interview.

This dude is Mike Vennart and, though I often try to avoid being overdramatic: his music renovated my life. Because Oceansize came to me during a dark time, and during that time, six years ago, their music helped me acknowledged perspectives that ultimately brought a sense contentedness. 

Whitney: Live at Meow Wolf

In the mystical and often disorienting universe of Meow Wolf, everything seems to come out of a Dalí painting. That is, if Dalí was tripping on acid. So it’s all the more interesting that, in this colorfully frenetic oasis, we are presented with a band whose primary color scheme appears to be denim, with light shades of brown. This band is Whitney.

One of the best bands to come out of 2016, Chicago indie-rockers Whitney carve their style out of a number of different influences. Combining the feel-good jams of The Band and soulful lyrics reminiscent of John Denver, duo Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek manage to make music that sounds very sentimental, yet appealing to a younger crowd.

Personally, I listened to a lot of classic rock when I was younger. The problem with that is, eventually, I listened to pretty much all the music from the genre. After a while songs that were once exciting now bore me, and it seems like the same twenty songs would make an appearance on classic rock stations. Light Upon the Lake, Whitney’s debut record, ended up landing at #2 on my favorite albums of 2016 mostly due to the fact that their throwback sound was much more relatable for me.

Ape Not Kill Ape, or How to DIY in Farther-Away Lands

As a troubled youth with an anarchic streak and an interest in punk rock, I found a home in the Grand Rapids DIY community. Here, I fell in love with house shows and hung out with a lot of kids who dressed in all black. I love this city, but the problem is: when you stay in one spot for too long, you forget what you have. It can be hard to remember that most towns don’t have the opportunity to see live music.

Having only lived in Grand Rapids my whole life, I saw the same people play in the same bands for years. In this limited worldview, I observed what I felt was a homogenous aesthetic develop. Slowly, as venues shut down and bands broke up, I got tired of seeing the same La Dispute clone, or another synth-pop act, or some new “electronic artist." Like every late teen, early twenty-something, I thought my scene was on its death bed.

Vaporwave: The Genre that Never Was

Vaporwave, at its core, is the amalgamation of three feelings:

One: Tranquility, as rain envelopes a small Japanese town wherein slumbering anxiety leaves you shielded away from the over-stimulation of city life. Kyoto glistens from out a small balcony; you dissect its radiance and solemnly breathe cigarette smoke between the echoes of passing cars and an occasional “meow” from the neighboring alleyway.

Two: Nostalgia, and the fast-paced hyper-consumerism culture of the '90s that violently, perhaps too passionately, celebrated itself. Elevator music, Kmart shopping sounds, crudely drawn Saturday morning cartoons, that blue and purple pattern on paper cups that never happened to die. The birth of the personal computer, modern technology’s baby steps, the shallow, clip-art graphic design: artwork and sounds that would go on to be slaved and sundered by niche teenagers in 2015.

Three: Greek busts and statues.

A Beginner's Guide to Wilco

When a band releases their breakout album, they must face the question that all musical artists face in this situation: "Do I stick to the sound that won me all these accolades, or continue to reinvent myself?" In my opinion the truly great bands continue to reinvent their sound, even after achieving enormous amounts of fame. Artists like Arcade Fire or Kanye West consistently bring something new with every single release. For me though, Wilco stand out due to the fact that they have been reinventing themselves from day one.

Spanning ten studio albums, one live album, and three collaborations with singer/songwriter Billy Bragg, Wilco’s discography reveals a band constantly evolving. When listened to chronologically, the albums illustrate them growing up, slowly maturing into the pivotal group they have become.

It is impossible to discuss Wilco in any way without addressing the mastermind behind it all, lead singer and guitarist Jeff Tweedy.

The Radiohead Article

There comes a time in every music blog’s life where the impending Radiohead article breaks loose from its shackles and makes itself known. Amongst hundreds of other expositions that detail the band’s mastery, I assure you this piece is no more worthy than the poetry of a 10th grader who just listened to “Hail to the Thief” for the first time.

Oh, the merciless Radiohead phase. It strikes when your eyes are closed, and has a bad habit of lingering over the course of a lifetime. It comes around to afflict almost everyone that habitually listens to music, and there’s something to be said about that in particular: they’re a group of artists that have made anguish very popular. For over two decades, they’ve been extracting every last possible ounce of heartache and hopelessness so professionally that it’s hard to call them overrated. 

Even though I believe they very much are.

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