Pitchfork Recap #3 – Thee Oh Sees

After two rainy days at Pitchfork, Thee Oh Sees delivered a set to match Sunday’s weather – scorching. The Bay Area band’s vehement garage rock was the kick in the teeth missing from the weekend. Their raucous wailing and amped-up psych/punk influence was tightly played with intensity by all, especially the bassist who flailed with his instrument in a death grip. For all their aggressive frenzy, Thee Oh Sees demonstrated pop-minded melody in gnashing force on songs like “The Dream,” from 2011’s Carrion Crawler/The Dream. Catch them on tour this fall with the superb Ty Segall, a fellow performer at Pitchfork Fest 2012.

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Dark Side of the Moog

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Pitchfork Recap #2 – Flying Lotus

I was eagerly anticipating many acts in Saturday’s lineup, but Flying Lotus was overlooked. Thus the festival gods intervene and send you what you don’t know you need. Waterlogged, I turned to face the emerging sun just as FlyLo reinvigorated everyone’s thump factor.

Flying Lotus got our muddy feet moving with an expert and effortless set. The LA-based producer’s magnetic music flew through Union Park, pulling samples from sci-fi sounds, to symbols, to standouts in the hip hop canon. Rather than merely looping track after track, Flying Lotus impressively layered his sound allowing movements to swell, yet mixing in intoxicating elements with cohesion. There was enough Weezy to get the crowd singing along, and a futuristic dynamism that kept everyone wanting more. For producing a driving, cerebral mix, it was clear from looking at the stage that Flying Lotus was having the most fun at his own dance party.

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Pitchfork Recap #1 – Purity Ring

Between the rain, sun, and sounds Pitchfork Music Fest 2012 was dominated by the elements. Hard-hitting bass and beats were served up by AraabMuzik and Hot Chip. Wild Flag fanned my post-punk lady crushes, while dulcet serenades by the likes of Beach House, Feist, and Grimes captivated the crowd. I heard a tremendous amount of music over the three day fest, and with great difficulty have narrowed down a highlight from each day.

Relative newcomers Purity Ring headlined Pitchfork Friday night opposite veteran and fellow-Canadian Feist. Yet like the commanders of an indie spaceship, Purity Ring’s ethereal tunes transported the crowd to fantastic foreign territory. Tucked in the wooded grove of the smaller Blue Stage, Megan James and Corrin Roddick performed beneath what can only be described as illuminated larvae, bass drum lighting up and waving lanterns all the while.

With electro-pop beats and dreamy vocals, Purity Ring had a simultaneously transfixing and animating effect on the crowd. Purity Ring’s passengers swayed as song blended into song, happy to break into dance at the trippy playful beats offered by tracks like “Obedear.” Check out the newly released debut Shrines, if you’re ready to fall under Purity Ring’s spell.

Next up: Flying Lotus and Thee Oh Sees

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The Mynabirds

Another point for talented female artists of 2012: Behind releases from Kimbra, Sharon Van Etton, Beach House, the Ting Tings, Lower Dens, La Sera, First Aid Kit (the list goes on and on) comes The Mynabirds. Led by Laura Burhenn, hailing first from Washington, DC, now Omaha, NE, and buddy-buddy with the likes of Conner Oberst, The Mynabirds is classic female-led indie music. A beautiful lead woman with bright eyes, long hair, and bangs that nearly cover her face, defining the fashion trends for Urban Outfitter’s upcoming season. She sings mostly alto and wails on her keyboard in some combination of soul and modern pop, with sometimes thrashing, but always controlled, emotion.

The Mynabirds’ sophomore album Generals came out at the beginning of June, a strong follow up to their 2010 release What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood (see our previous post here.) It builds slowly until the title track, which is third, then oscillates downward in energy to the classic-sounding “Greatest Revenge.” Despite the decrescendo in energy, the album still sustains itself, because it’s completely driven by beats and electronic sounds, which, even when slow and uninteresting, are still catchy. And the immense range of song styles all suit Burhenn’s voice, which, except for a few rare but appropriate hollow spots, is most often chock-full of feminine power and resolve. The album starts and ends with the same declaration: “I’d give it all, I’d give it all, for a legacy of love.” The album is the musical equivalent to a woman on a crusade, as well as all of her strife along that journey, to create/find the greatest and only good in the world: love.

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