Parcels ~ Anotherclock Live @ Lollapalooza Afterparty, Berlin

Tiny Desk concerts give us a rare, unfiltered experience of an artists capabilities. Sitting just a few feet away, we’re keenly aware of imperfections, or more simply put, eager to point out what parts of a song don’t sound like the studio version. We lock onto what’s missing.

But sometimes, a good live performance reveals more than it entertains. As is the case with T-Pain’s Tiny Desk show, which shows that in the absence of autotune Buy U A Drank can be a luscious, tender melody. All that empty space, intimate and oxygen rich, brings the song to life.

Parcels, an Australian band living in Berlin, thrives at this sonic trick. With some dexterous hands on the keyboard, a steady rhythm section, and a groove that fuses Fleetwood Mac with Daft Punk, Parcel’s glittery synth-pop is hypnotizing. There’s no clutter, despite having five band members, Instead they’re slick, minimalistic, and brash – characteristics that are only amplified in a live setting.

Be sure to follow Parcels closely. Especially when they make their return to the U.S. And who knows… maybe a Tiny Desk concert is in their future.

**

**

Advertisements

Long Days & Loud Music

“Well are you excited?”  This was Maine, said by everyone. My responses were affirmative, but always with a bit of unintentional hesitance. There were still some major pieces of the puzzle to fall in place, and things had come together too quickly to really grasp. I couldn’t help but sound uncertain.

But then there I was, packing Old Blue to the brim with clothes, shoes, skis, camping gear, and saying a hard goodbye to my parents. The excitement of the road ahead hit me; it was Go time.

**

“I’m so glad to know that you exist.”  This was Chicago, said by Harry’s girlfriend. Apparently for years the two of them had a running joke that my existence was fabricated – that I was a cover up for him to chat on the phone with another girl rather than an old friend. She was delighted to be proven wrong.

Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska blend together for a long, flat, and unchanging few days. The general perception of Middle America is not wrong – the landscape is boring, and the air smells like manure; and yet, there is beauty to be found in sepia-tone cornfields under a late summer glow.

**

“I don’t know if you’ll reach California today, son.”  This was Utah, said by a hefty fellow named Glenn. I looked around the waiting room and wondered how long I’d be stuck there. Blue was hurting, and I couldn’t continue until she got checked out. On the bright side, I was surprised I made it as far as Utah without the car sputtering. It almost felt required that this would happen.

Seven hours and one painful invoice later, I zoomed through the mesmerizing Bonneville salt flats and the Nevada desert. I was delayed, but thankful to get the auto work done. The music got louder and the speed limits higher; all eyes were on the final state ahead.

**

“Well, welcome to California!”  This was Truckee, said by the woman behind the counter, inquiring about my East-coast license plates. The state border had snuck up on me, and before I knew it I was pulling over for coffee, surrounded by the majestic Sierras.

It was now, finally in the air of my new state, that I could reflect on it all: the past six months, the whirlwind of September – during which I slept in fifteen different locations, the Boston chapter behind me and the California chapter ahead.

I suddenly wished I could go back to everyone who had asked if I was excited.

Hell yeah I was excited.

**

 

A Deeper Understanding of Who I Am

‘More of the same’ is a common musical chirp wielded by “the internet’s busiest music nerd,” Anthony Fantano. Eyes rolling, hands in the air, he’s used the label to dull releases from Future Islands and ODESZA, and despite the initial urge to rush to their defense, it’s hard to counter.

New Future Islands sounds like old Future Islands. ODESZA will always sound like metal clattering through a rain storm. The alternative, and what Fantano must be looking for, is musical reinvention, exemplified best by Childish Gambino, who with his most recent album, Awaken My Love, vaulted himself from nasally rapper to bonafide soul-king.

**

The War on Drugs’ latest release, A Deeper Understanding (2017) is no sonic revolution. We hear the familiar sounds of dad rock – delay pedals, fuzzy guitars and Adam Granduciel’s crooning voice. Unsurprisingly, Fantano isn’t having it.  But having induced a nostalgic fervor with their last album, Lost In The Dream (2014), it’s possible that when it comes to The War on Drugs, more of the same is exactly what we want.

On A Deeper Understanding, frontman, Adam Granduciel, takes more musical risks and we travel further into the band’s sonic headspace, a place mired by pain.

“I met a man with a broken back / he had a fear in his eyes I could understand.”

**

Many tracks surpass the six minute mark, a holy metric for classic rock songs with dizzying solos, easy to fill, but difficult to pull off.  Nonetheless, Granduciel goes for greater heights, unafraid to scrape the zenith of his guitar playing abilities.

But the true potential of A Deeper Understanding may be in its reception. Just warranting a review on The Needle Drop is an odd form of recognition – whether the review is good or bad, people notice. So much so that The War on Drugs are launching into the mainstream, inhabiting places like 107.7 “The Bone” and 98.9 WCLZ, where Granduciel will continue tapping into their main source of power – nostalgia.

A Ghost Story

**

I wait. For whom, I don’t remember. I’m in the woods; the woods where I’ve always been.

Tawny, muscled men and women live among the trees. They tap sustenance from each animal, every leaf. They fear me when the dark shrinks their fires.

Young men worship the sun. They chew the trees with steel teeth and commute the flesh into timber and frame. Their fires multiply and grow, but they fear me in the vastness of night.

The river rises, the people drown. Others return, subdue the water with concrete and glass. They conceal their fires but yield light so bright it blinds, renders all seeing. And yet they fear me when they close their eyes.