Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jessica Newham grew up in Sydney, but headed to the U.S. as a teen to attend a performing-arts school in Michigan and then the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She began playing live when she was just 16 and then, channeling popular ’80s influences and synth pop reminiscent of M83 and MGMT, started releasing music as Betty Who just a few years later. After early buzz for a pair of acclaimed EPs and opening for Katy Perry’s Down Under tour, her debut full-length, Take Me When You Go (stream it below), arrived in 2014. Betty Who (above, the video for “Mama Say”) returned this past spring with her sophomore effort, The Valley (stream it below), which has a more modern sound, but is as life-affirming as her other work. Catch her life-affirming music live tomorrow night at Brooklyn Steel. Another synth-pop act, Geographer, opens.
Tag Archives: M83
Tags: Anthony Gonzalez, Brian C. Reilly, Joe Berry, Jordan Lawlor, Junk, Kaela Sinclair, Live Music, Loïc Maurin, M83, Music, New York City, Photos, Terminal 5
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Anthony Gonzalez has been deftly mixing shoegaze, ambient music and synth pop into his own unique down-tempo sound as M83 for more than a decade. But it wasn’t until the band’s sixth album, the double LP Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (stream it below), anchored by megahit “Midnight City,” that M83 (above, doing “Go!” on Later … with Jools Holland) became a worldwide phenomenon. And after extensive touring (and soundtrack scoring) followed by some time off, Gonzalez and M83 returned this year with Junk (stream it below). “Much like Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Junk looks back in a way that’s so accomplished that it’s difficult to call it a retreat,” per AllMusic. Instead, it feels like a reminder that Gonzalez is dedicated to making music on his own terms, even if the results are polarizing. While all listeners may not share his fascination with ’80s pop culture detritus, it’s hard not to respect how expertly he transforms it into something genuine. ” And according to Pretty Much Amazing, it “doesn’t profess to be some magnificent statement about the human condition—it ends any such speculation with its title.… And that’s OK. Muppets in Space album cover aside, Gonzalez has still left plenty on Junk for his merry usual band of misfits—the lovers, the dreamers, and him.” Of course, the best way to experience M83 remains live, and to that end, you can see them on Friday and Saturday at Terminal 5. Pop singer-songwriter Shura opens both shows.
Tags: Anthony Gonzalez, Daft Punk, Hurry Up We're Dreaming, Joe Berry, Jordan Lawlor, Junk, Kaela Sinclair, Live Music, Loïc Maurin, M83, Music, New York City, Preview, Random Access Memories, Terminal 5, Video
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Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joey Vannucchi began making music as From Indian Lakes seven years ago in California, near Yosemite National Park (in a town called Indian Lakes), when he released The Man with Wooden Legs (stream it below) as a five-piece, creating “something special on their first attempt,” according to Sputnik Music. Since then, From Indian Lakes have continued to record and tour—alternating between Vannucchi solo and as a full band. From Indian Lakes (above performing, “Breathe, Deeply” for Auidotree Live) release their third studio album, Everything Feels Better Now, on Friday, and they kick off an American tour tonight at Mercury Lounge’s early show.
Tessa Murray (vocals) and Greg Hughes (multiple instruments) formed Still Corners (above, doing “I Wrote in Blood” live in studio for KEXP FM) nine years ago in London. The duo’s third studio album, Dead Blue (stream it below), arrived last month, garnering plenty of praise. Sure, lots of other groups also make synth-driven, spacey, psychedelic dream pop, “there are literally thousands of acts making this kind of music, from M83 to Tamaryn, Keep Shelly in Athens to Neon Indian,” claims the Line of Best Fit. “It’s nothing new, no. But Still Corners just do it better than the rest.” Still Corners perform live as a full band, and you can see them tomorrow night at the late show at Mercury Lounge.
Tags: Dead Blue, Everything Feels Better Now, From Indian Lakes, Greg Hughes, Joey Vannucchi, Keep Shelleyin Athens, Live Music, Lower East Side, M83, Mercury Lounge, Music, Neon Indian, New York City, Preview, Still Corners, Tamaryn, Tessa Murray, The Man with Wooden Legs, Video, Yosemite National Park
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Scott Hansen is a man of many talents—and of several names. Under the moniker ISO50, he’s a graphic designer well known for his pastoral, sunny style. This serves him well, providing eye-opening backdrops when, using synths and sampled live instrumentation, he makes dreamy music as Tycho. “I want the music to be a soundtrack to a visual experience where both the audio and the visual aspects of the live show are equally important to the audience,” he says. The San Francisco–based producer and musician uses swirling melodies along with halting beats and sampled vocals to paint a rolling sonic picture. His second full-length, 2011’s Dive (stream it below), earned Tycho (above, performing “Montana” on KCRW FM’s Morning Becomes Eclectic) comparisons to M83 and Neon Indian. On Hansen’s third album, Awake (stream it below), out earlier this year, he employs live musicians. Per Filter, “Silky, swirly synths still abound on Awake, but the groove of live bass, guitar and drums advance Tycho’s sound and put the songs right into the proverbial pocket. Shit, it actually sounds like these dudes are having fun.” Have fun yourself when Tycho closes out the American leg of his tour tonight at Termial 5.
I Break Horses – Rough Trade NYC – April 18, 2014
A wide range of Swedish artists, like Robyn, the Knife and Little Dragon, have made some of the most infectious dance music over the past few years. And Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck continue in that vein as I Break Horses. Following the release of their sophomore effort, Chiaroscuro, earlier this year, the two have embarked on their first-ever headlining tour in North America. Their label, Bella Union, describes the pair’s evocative sound as “a gorgeous Scandinavian croon that’s bathed in an ocean of reverb and tremelo,” and Lindén and Balck are no strangers to performing to huge crowds, having previously opened for M83 and Sigur Rós.
But on the eve of Record Store Day, the Swedes fittingly performed at the intimate Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn. Lindén raised an arm for the show to commence against the throbbing drums of “Medicine Brush.” And while she later had some synth troubles, the band swiftly recovered with crowd-favorite “Denial” to the delight of concertgoers happily bobbing their heads to the beat. I Break Horses followed with a pair from their debut, Hearts—“Load Your Eyes” and the shimmering synth-filled title song—before the set closed with the thumping “Faith.” But the band returned to encore with the swirling “Winter Beats.” —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Bella Union, Chiaroscuro, Coachella, Fredrik Balck, Hearts, I Break Horses, Little Dragon, M83, Maria Lindén, Record Store Day, Review, Robyn, Rough Trade NYC, the Knife, Tycho
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To some, M83 has always had an uncanny resemblance to the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club. This has nothing to do with the aesthetic reality that the band plays music with influences from the enormous synthesizers that so dominated mid-1980s pop music. Frontman Anthony Gonzalez possesses a knack for distilling human experience down to one frozen moment: a fist raised against a cloudy sky, a human story of difference and commonality, to say everything all at once, a frozen slice of self-actualization. Gonzalez’s gift for this type of tableau universality emerged immediately, taking the stage in full costume of the band’s creepy cover art from 2011 double LP Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and its smash hit, “Midnight City” (performed, above, on Last Call with Carson Daly). Tomorrow’s show is sold out, but you can see M83 play Hammerstein Ballroom on Wednesday and The Wellmont Theatre on Thursday. —Geoff Nelson
Yeasayer – Rumsey Playfield – September 12, 2012
Central Park! Yeasayer! Beautiful September weather! Babies! Put all these things together (OK, well, except for the babies) and you’ve got the essential ingredients for a perfect show to usher out the summer outdoor-concert season. Wednesday night was the final stop of Yeasayer’s tour promoting the release of their latest album, Fragrant World . Their tour is being cut short thanks to the birth of Yeasayer mult-instrumentalist Anand Wilder’s new baby daughter, who was born on Saturday. The guys in the band welcomed the good news like the baby was all of theirs. Chris Keating joked several times throughout the set that they were returning to their hometown, New York City, to raise the newborn as a group.
When it comes to all the bands that have come out of the mid-aughts, Yeasayser’s a bit of an outlier. In many ways, their songs sound like a grab-bag collection of familiar sounds that have come into vogue as of late. Tunes both new and old dabble in the psychedelic, hypnotic grooves from the school of Animal Collective. Songs like their latest single, “Henrietta,” seamlessly morph from MGMT-style electro dance grooves to M83-style synth sentimentalism. With three of the four band members swapping vocal responsibilities, sometimes they all sang together like in the breakout from their debut, “2080,” building up an epic wall of harmonies reminiscent of the Fleet Foxes.
Individually these things aren’t necessarily unique, but throw them all together and you’ve got one of the most original and strangest sounding bands to emerge from the new millennium’s indie renaissance. And then of course there is “Ambling Alp,” the show ender and clear crowd favorite. Sung in unison, the lyrics from the song felt like some perfect and timely advice for someone new to this world. What an appropriate way to conclude a tour cut short by the birth of child. —Dan Rickershauser
Photos courtesy of Alexis Maindrault | rockinpix.com
Tags: All Hour Cymbals, Anand Wilder, Animal Collective, Central Park, Chris Keating, Fleet Foxes, Fragrant World, Ira Wolf Tuton, M83, MGMT, Photos, Review, Rumsey Playfield, Yeasayer
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M83 – SummerStage – August 8, 2012
It’s a bold move to name your band after something as grandiose as a spiral galaxy, and it would be presumptuous for any band that isn’t M83. The group’s ability to create songs that are both fun and maximalist yet also rich with meaning and emotional depth means they could name themselves “the Entire Universe” if they so desired. Their live show felt at home at SummerStage in Central Park, where the words and rhythms of their songs could spiral out into the infinity of open space. It’s been quite a year for M83, who, after releasing the fantastic Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, has been touring the world extensively, including playing some of the planet’s biggest festivals.
But last night, frontman Anthony Gonzalez made sure to let everyone know that the band had been looking forward to the chance to play New York City’s historic park for a long time. And the opportunity was not wasted. The music got an assist from some stunning visuals that included smoke, flashing colored light panels, lasers and a starry glimmering backdrop. It was a stage design that looked half-inspired by the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A small string ensemble at the back of the stage made things even more epic by adding some extra orchestral oomph to songs like “Teen Angst” and a cover of “Fall,” originally written by French synth-rockers Daft Punk.
The audience took every opportunity to sing during the show, and some braves souls even attempted to bark along to “Midnight City,” the clear crowd favorite. The place went crazy for the saxophone solo that concludes the song so perfectly it could have dragged on forever without a complaint from anyone. While Morgan Kibby’s beautiful voice made several appearances throughout the night, her ghostly singing on “Skin of the Night” was an absolute showstopper. M83 finished off things with the hard-hitting instrumental “Couleurs” from Saturdays = Youth, giving some band members the chance to jump around the stage flipping out—and those in attendance the final chance to squeeze out whatever energy remained to dance their asses off. —Dan Rickershauser
Photos courtesy of Greg Notch | notch.org
M83 – Terminal 5 – May 10, 2012
To some, M83 has always had an uncanny resemblance to the John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club. This has nothing to do with the aesthetic reality that the band plays music with influences from the enormous synthesizers that so dominated mid-1980s pop music. Frontman Anthony Gonzalez possesses a knack for distilling human experience down to one frozen moment: a fist raised against a cloudy sky, a human story of difference and commonality, to say everything all at once, a frozen slice of self-actualization. Gonzalez’s gift for this type of tableau universality emerged immediately, taking the stage in full costume of the band’s creepy cover art from 2011 double LP Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. It was doubtful this thing, somewhere between Donnie Darko and Maurice Sendak, was Gonzalez himself (he took the stage far too quickly after the bit of theater concluded) as the character, creepy and triumphant, slowly raised his arms in a crosshatch between invocation and professional wrestling introductory pageant.
The creature departed and the band took the stage as the opening notes of “Intro” leaked from the speakers. It was simple: Bring your cover art onstage in full dress, play the first song from your most recent record—form meets function. Now everybody freeze. Some in the crowd turned to their phones starting a brief but erroneous Twitter rumor that Zola Jesus, who sings on the album version of “Intro,” was in the house and singing the hook. M83, unwitting to this secondary narrative, ran through the enormous “Teen Angst” and “Graveyard Girl,” both of which possess an even more affirming quality with live drums and, at high volume, an urging to stop commenting and simply experience.
The middle of the set slowed as Gonzalez effusively thanked the audience in his French-accented impeccable English. The band played “Reunion” and “Wait,” the latter featuring an enormous duet between Gonzalez and his female keyboardist. Everything stopped for a moment. This was what the audience wanted. Next was “Midnight City,” a song with no more than four serious notes, which appeared to lift the crowd toward the top of the room, snapping digital images against the blinking stage strobes, an attempt to save this and keep it, an aperture big enough to capture the desire to feel this affirmed always. —Geoff Nelson
(M83 plays Hammerstein Ballroom on 10/2.)
M83 plays Terminal 5 on Thursday, and there’s a good chance you already heard because the show sold out quickly. But if you’re not already going, you’ve still got a chance to do so because The House List is giving away two tickets. So try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (M83, 5/10) and a brief message explaining why French shoegazing electronica is your thing. Eddie Bruiser, who has “Midnight City” stuck in his head, will notify the winner by Thursday. Bonne chance!
M83 – Webster Hall – November 22, 2011
Early yesterday I watched the John Hughes movie The Breakfast Club. And of its distinctive elements, what grabbed me most was the music. Stylized and dated, it can now function only as nostalgia inducing. It would seem schmaltzy synth ballads no longer have a place in popular music. But the genius of M83 is its resurrection and retooling of that discarded period. Anthony Gonzalez, the man behind M83, finds a way to deepen and stretch the sound so much so that it sheds the ’80s and moves into the category of modern shoegaze—heavily affected and loud as fuck.
Last night at Webster Hall, Gonzalez, along with three additional musicians, created M83. I say create because on six studio albums—mostly recently Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming—the band is essentially a one-man job. But live, with a bassist, drummer and keys player, M83 is as expansive if not more so than its recorded material. From opener “Intro” to such songs off the previous album, Saturdays=Youth, like “We Own the Sky” and “Skin of the Night,” Webster Hall’s PA worked overtime to soak the room in sound. The ambition was audible. —Jared Levy
(Tonight’s M83 show at Music Hall of Williamsburg is sold out.)
The week of Thanksgiving is usually a fun one, and this year is no different. M83, the French purveyors of dreamy, ambient pop music, play Webster Hall tonight and Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Both shows are already sold out, but if you’d like to go tomorrow, you just might be in luck because The House List is giving away two tickets. Interested? Then try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (M83, 11/23) and a brief message explaining what you like most about Thanksgiving. Eddie Bruiser, who’s got a serious thing for stuffing, will notify the winner tomorrow. Good luck.