Week in Pop: Brain F≠, GANGI as Fake Estates, George West

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with support from LoCura, Napoleon, Sylvan Esso, & more.

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Sjimon Gompers | February 7, 2014

Brain Flannel

North Carolina's Bran F≠ (Brain Flannel) captured in the wild by photographer, Ross Grady, George West photo courtesy of Marcelo Quinones.

Gifting you the reward of surviving through another winter week, Impose's Week in Pop brings you exclusives, interviews, and a few of the top stories. So as the whole Winter Olympics spectacle slides further into the content farms of irrelevance, we heard that Masha Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova have apparently quit the recently freed Pussy Riot according to this Livejournal post, something about Jack White selling bars of chocolate in LA via Instagram, and could there really be a DMX versus George Zimmerman boxing match in the works? Hard to know what to make out of any of this, but we bring you premieres and discussions with Nick from Brain F≠, Vik of George West, news about GANGI's name change, roundtables with Sergio from LoCura, Julian from Napoleon, Amelia from Sylvan Esso, and others—in no particular order.

Charlotte's Brain F≠ (pronounced Brain Flannel) are about to release the riot inciting, Empty Set, February 11 on Grave Mistake and Sorry State Records, and we have your exclusive stream here. Logic Problem's Nick Goode formed the flannel ripping group with friends Elise Anderson, Bobby Michaud of Grids, and Eddie Schneider of Yardwork, and have been tearing things up with past releases like Statuestory Tapes and Sleep Rough. Their latest offering, Empty Set, is a fly by the seat of your bar stool into manic worlds of high and dry desperation, and constant self-destruction and destitution spiked with an allure of appealing delight.

From the moment Empty Set begins, there are no prisoners, and even fewer places to run. “Dry” jumps into a speeding run through a world in drought, that seeks a cold pint to quench the desert sand storm of geared up guitars. We were first introduced to Empty Set with the single “Sicks” where “the sky out of reach / the anger is very deep”, and the snarling chords move like the cyclone carousel ride of a spinning office chair. “Sailor Swim” has some great quips, with “you don't work / you just fit in”, that dumps any surrounding poseurs overboard into a pit of “don't give a fuck” attitudes. But there is no time to tally up the damages, as “Moth” leads you like a lemming to the light only to burn up on “Fulcrum”, which pivots between the “poor little” lever of creepers, sleepers, and “poor little rich kids.” Moving on without any slowing down of the attack, the title track “Empty Set” is the “do it 'til we die” recipe for indie punk song vignette success that shoves the humdrum boredoms in a call for action like a sneaker slogan to just do it.

The head implosion inquisition continues, with the following contender for best named song of the year, “Headaches & Vomit”. This is the moment where you begin to realize that there are few bands in the world that can translate the under the weather experience as a pure, beautiful-but brutal art. Keeping the thematic titling scheme in full swing, “Dirty Realism” chucks up the asphalt, as “N.A.S.” breaks wine bottles to the invitational chant of “why not leg go / too soft / too slow.” Empty Set is not music for any Bikram yoga sesh or transcendental meditation. The closer “Don't Tell Me” stands true to the album's thesis that Brain F≠ is here to rip the flannel curtain of your very core. The hardcore head knocking, and punk songs of independence and abandon empty the baggies of audio chemical warfare into your very being. Saving us from the status quo, Brain F≠'s Empty Set is hear to destroy, and viciously disrupt the monotony of your day, to help make your life less boring.

We are pleased to get all the latest goods on Brain ≠ from Nick Goode, giving us the low down on the North Carolina scenes of interest, a story about their band's name being ordained in a supernatural dream, and the fun and free-wheeling debauchery behind their sound.

First off, give us a current snapshot of Charlotte, I feel like we're out of the loop of the local North Carolina scenes at the minute.

Charlotte's a sprawling city with one university and a historical intolerance for city planning and cultural change. There are a lot of good things going on in the music scene-—almost no two bands could fit the same genre—and the city seems to strike this very unique balance of lit folks, punks, noise and jazz masters, and people trying to get laid at local bars that makes it all work. At the moment your snapshot contains: half of us, advanced songwriting genius Bo White, somewhere between Jane from Occupied Europe and Slade in Flame, Nick's bands Joint D≠ and Meat Group, Moenda—who is doing DNA by way of AmRep and Sublime Frequencies, world-devouring jazz unit Great Architect, hardcore connoisseurs in K-9 Unit and Stepdad SS, and profoundly talented man beyond men Andy the Doorbum. Charlotte has a lot to offer if you dig deep in the right spots. In other North Carolina news, Raleigh is about to bring the heat with about 12 really great hardcore bands, which is worth preparing for.

How did you all agree on the name Brain Flannel, spelled Brain F≠?

It came to each of us in a dream one night in the fall of 2009. We don't fuck with the supernatural.

Was it a kind of character trickery more so than a mathematical appreciation to incorporate the inequality symbol? Is there perhaps something deeper here, that perhaps brains and flannel do not enjoy the same equal plain of rights? I think I am thinking about this way too much, ha ha.

[Laughs] We originally wanted to do an annoying amount of singles and change the F-fronted name with each release, and at some point used the ≠ as a variable. We chose that particular symbol to pay homage to our bad dads, Double Negative, and to further ensure our band name was easily relatable.

Okay, Empty Set really tears things up. How did you all go about recording this aggressive yet infectious LP?

Thanks! The instrumentation was recorded live in February 2012 by Will Evans of Whatever Brains, who also recorded Sleep Rough, and most great records coming out of Raleigh. He's a real straight shooter with upper management written all over him. We wrote the lyrics and vocal melodies that winter, mostly over Skype, and in two brainstorming visits at the Ace Hotel bar and a 24 hour restroom (cafe) on 28th in Manhattan, as Elise was living up there at the time. Vocals were recorded in March 2012 in Raleigh with the lights out. It's safe to say we all shared a separate but parallel sense of anxiety/terror that winter and this album is pretty fair, hopefully fun documentation of that phase.

“Sicks” tears things up, and even conjures the kind of spins you get from spinning around too fast, or getting discombobulated from one too-many rotations. How do you all keep up that energy?

We take great care of our bodies and stay away from cigarettes. It's usually a sugar high, or the sights and sounds of a manic episode. One of us actually spins in circles on a regular basis. The rest of us don't have the stomach for it.

What inspires the Brain F≠ aggression and song-writing/song-destroying process?

Espresso and alcohol. It's natural to get angry and it's annoying to be alive sometimes. It feels good to take all that and shape it into something else.

Why does the world need to take cover when Empty Set hits on February 11?

Two years of aging in album years is like 50 in scotch years, right? But the world should open its arms. We aren't gonna hurt you. Trust us.

Empty Set will be available February 1 from Grave Mistake and Sorry State.

Every song from LA's GANGI, is a journey. Their conceptual and innovative mind frames comprise their masterpiece gesture is, and Matt Gangi's establishment of the Office of Analogue and Digital has become as integrated as a connective fabric amongst the Los Angeles indie circuits. Having graced us with many hand-made creative media items over the years, we also can now report that Matt, Eric Chramosta, and Evelena Ruether are now the former artists known as GANGI, now known as Fake Estates. Preparing to release the upcoming EP, GANGI as Fake Estates, the band makes the moniker transition official but not before sharing a debut of their latest video adventure.

GANGI has already taken us through the train way passages of “Railways Nos. 1-27“, and now they take us on a San Fernando Blvd stroll in the urban awe that lies between Glendale and LA . With camera work help from Nicole Zoppi, we present the video premiere for, “Battle Hymn of the Culture and Consciousness Industries”, that traverses the places between the concrete and the temples. This nearly nine minute slow burning atmospheric symphony becomes a sidewalk view into the businesses, concrete and iron creations, with point of view perspectives that zoom in on the details and designs that catch the eye and senses for one reason or another. Sale signs, and found samples about, “today other wheels are rolling on the superhighways of modern America” that look over city-planned plant artifices that sit in front of the Save-More parking lot. Traffic passes, pedestrians go about their way, police cars flash lights and sirens as the sparse effects of the guitar gurgling controls soundtrack the murals, and transmission towers that are incorporated into the surrounding Southern California sprawl. Rental agencies, sun draped light beams, smog check stations, transients, more sale signs, smut shops, fast food giants, Playplaces, cars, more cars, vehicles everywhere, the KIIS FM car, and more accompanying a wondrous noise collaged score.

Matt Gangi graced us with the following words about his self-made video for “Battle Hymn of the Culture and Consciousness Industries”, the band's name change to Fake Estates, and much more Jungian details to follow in our interview:

Matt: The video for Battle Hymn was made in one take with two cameras, walking down San Fernando Blvd between Glendale and Los Angeles. This street has an interesting kind of progression. From a cemetery billboard, to vacant storefronts, to satellite tower, to police station, to porn shop, to gas station, to McDonald's… We found it an appropriate backdrop for “Battle Hymn”, which was also a spontaneous recording. We used two mics and moved around the room making sounds over some US propaganda samples.

Tell us about our new distribution hub for gesture is via Cobraside.

Cobraside contacted us about physically and digitally re-releasing the Office of Analogue and Digital catalog. We had just finally finished the cutting and screen-printing for the vinyl of gesture is right around the time of shooting the video, and it is really synchronistic as Cobraside's offices are on San Fernando, the street where the video was shot. I filmed the distributor and then they contacted us about distribution just after! They are physically distributing our albums now and are going to re-distribute them digitally soon.

Thoughts on the streets, and Jungian synchronicity of LA?

I just finished reading Jung's Synchronicity recently, and have been auditing my friend Kari Hodge's class on electricity and magnetism at Caltech, hoping to learn some of the physics in Jung's book… and learning more about circuits for future synthesizer designs. Synchronistically, regarding IMPOSE, science, and this question about Jung, I had written a line from Synchronicity in my notebook some weeks ago, where Jung uses the word impose—I wrote Jung's line that “Experiments IMPOSE limiting conditions on nature, for their aim is to force her to give answers to questions devised by [woman/]man.”

Instead of imposing a condition on nature to react in a certain way, we need to think outside the traditional cause and effect road blocks of current science as there seems to be something more going on. The folks at Cobraside had no knowledge that we had just completed a video on their street when they contacted us about distribution. We filmed the street that Cobraside Distribution is on, and synchronistically they contacted us to distribute our records shortly after the filming… In this example of acausal time parallelism, the only link between these things is a common meaning… it proves that something perceived can be represented by another outside event without cause and effect… so maybe, as Jung argues, space is relative to the psyche. As time only began with created things, maybe time is only relational to our own consciousness.

(Matt Gangi, via @jodieodieoh)

Talk to us about the big name shift from GANGI to Fake Estates.

Fake Estates was a project by Gordon Matta-Clark where he became landowner of various slivers of “odd lots”, essentially in-between and unusable pieces of property around New York City in the 1970's—Spaces of value with no use-value. Ironically, due to increasing property taxes it was unfeasible for Matta-Clark to keep the properties. Foucault wrote, “Locate the space left empty by the author's disappearance, follow the distribution of gaps and breaches, and watch for the openings that this disappearance uncovers.”

Our first performance as Fake Estates was at a gallery called NoPlace in Oslo, Norway. When going through customs and the officer asked us where we would be staying in Oslo, we had to explain that we were staying at NoPlace, but that yes, NoPlace was a real place. Evelena Ruether has been performing with Eric Chramosta and me. She and William Kaminski curated that show, which was part of an exchange with their space Control Room, sponsored by the Norwegian government. Speaking of property and bureaucracy… Los Angeles city kept shutting down their shows as they didn't have proper permitting and the building wasn't zoned for art happenings/public events.

We've also so far been unable to acquire fakeestates.com, as the Internet's biggest virtual property owner is cybersquatting the domain. We tried to plead our rights granted by the Lanham Act, but he responded that we couldn't live in that online space without paying an exorbitant price.

What's next for Fake Estates?

Eve, Eric, and I are performing this Saturday at Cobraside for our finally vinyl-y release. Our first performance as Fake Estates in the US was last weekend at Mirror/House, an art work by our friend Aaron Giesel constructed in Joshua Tree. The house is a camera obscura, which reflects a bombed out/destroyed house adjacent to the piece, so we played outside, and the performance was viewed inside upside down. Filmmaker Joel Levin was invited to document the performance so we could make a video, but instead he typed on a typewriter in front of us for much of the time we played. JARGON JARGON JARGON JARGON …But we recorded nearly two and a half hours of our sounds and are hoping to piece together some kind of video from it.

Eric and I recorded an EP a long time ago that we are just about to release, GANGI as Fake Estates, which will transition the name change. It is noise and electronic re-workings of a couple songs from the first GANGI album, A. We are going to be releasing that on vinyl soon along with a video of the full EP. Meanwhile, Eric, Eve, and I are recording and playing a lot of free ambient sounds as well as re-working more structured pop b-sides from gesture is, which will make up the first Fake Estates full length album. We hope to be up to San Francisco to play for you folks at IMPOSE soon!

GANGI as Fake Estates EP will be available soon from the Office of Analogue and Digital.

Like the city in Live Oak County, Texas of the same name; percussionist Vik Montemayor is the producer, George West. Having grown up living near Monterrey, Mexico along with Houston, TX, Vik utilizes his rhythm and key creation to convey stories that feel like slow travels in the places that connects deserts and heavens. Welcome to the world of GW that sees and hears the Southwest territories in a sound that moves like the wind and elements of air in that physical sense of geography that knows no borders.

In our viewing of the video for George West's “You Know”, filmed by Marcelo Quinones; prepare for a spirit soothing walk through images captured around Mexico City. Urban architecture and statues stand like the footage of Montemayor surveying everything from the natural, to the metropolitan, to the traditional, to the historical. Drum circles are put to the soft step beat, that follows Vik about town, through the crowds, past buildings, markets, flowers, trees, and ponds. Muffled vocal samples occasionally rise to the surface against the sparse and sustaining notes that make up the helium head spaces of, “You Know”. A song to remind you of the summer when winter plays about the outside window, with the soul of springtime.

Without further ado, we bring you are interview with the man behind the character called George West; the talented Vik Montemayor.

Tell us how you, Vik Montemayor became the western ambient incarnation of, George West?

Montemayor since the age of 10 became a drummer, so of course the thoughts of becoming the greatest drummer in the world came to mind here and there, but as he I started growing up and seeing more live shows, listening to rap, r&b, since I did grow up in North Houston where screw music is very prominent, and friends of mine had there home made 'beat' labs that all was an eye opener for me but with my own chill twist to it once I started listening to DJ Krush over and over and over

As a longtime percussionist, how have your residencies between Monterrey, Mexico and Houston, Texas impacted and/or informed your various sound approaches and constructions?

The thing was growing up in a Mexican household my family is huge into traditional Mexican music like, Intocable, Luis Miguel, Cristian Castro, so yea I was confused at one point but all those influences and long road trips to visit family in Mexico gave me lots of time to think and just let me mind flow. I have always been liked the “electronic” side of music but never really jumped into it till now and with the large genre spread that I listen to it all blends in.

What is the George West methodology of composition, rhythm, groove and synth sustain arranging?

I like to picture large vast landscapes, beaches, road trips with the top down sippin a cold beer, well maybe not a cold beer 'cause then you will get in trouble, but you get the picture. What really pushed me over into doing my first track was a trip to Tulum Mexico with my wife for our 1st year wedding anniversary. I would almost come up with melodies in my head, ideas were just flowing and I just felt so relaxed and the vibes of swimming in a “Cenote” made me feel really chill.. its hard to explain. I sit down, put on the headphones, find a sound I like, tweak all out, or come up with a phat ass drum beat and let it go from there. When I have an idea down I will bounce the track into soundcloud, put the track on private and listen to the idea over and over in my car, headphones, every I can and add arrangements to it in my head, I get home and throw the ideas down.

Tell us about making the “You Know” video with Marcelo Quinones in Mexico City, it's a beautiful video.

Man it was such an amazing time, it's one of those things that will stay with me till I am no longer here. Marcelo is such a great and talented person and a good friend of mine for some years now if it wasn't for him this idea and visual emotion of my track wouldn't have came to life. When I first started messing around with tracks I would send them to him and say dude check this out..he would reply.. maaan this is awesome lets make a video! I was scared of the idea at first because GW was a thing more just for me to mess around with, but as time went by I created better tracks and he was really starting to dig it, and I have always wanted to shoot a video in Mexico, so by time you know it I had bought my plane ticket and I was going to Mexico to shoot a video with Marcelo on his Super 8. Every day was a total new adventure from hoping in taxis, they drive crazy! I almost died 5 times. Getting on the Metro [subway] for hours at a time, shooting random places– we would leave the house at 9am and get home at 8pm — I even had an out of body experience with a “chaman” he did a limpia on me which means they clean your soul of all evil and bad that may have been put upon you.. it was just amazing not to mention we caught a James Blake show also! over all I can keep going but I feel like I am getting too exited typing all this..

What recordings are you working on now?

I am working on a few remixes (personal use) and more tracks to add to my arsenal so when I get ready to play my first live show I will throw down with some heavy hits and draw people in with me. I plan on playing my first show this summer, that's the plan at least.

Releases in the works?

I plan on releasing another EP and just random tracks that I come up with, I am not really following any type of specific plan. I just want to create and have people listen to my tracks and hopefully make them just chill and unplug from the everyday grind.

Collaborations in the works and any other like minded artists that you are loving as of late?

Yea I am collabing with James Blake.. hahaha! I WISH that was a joke.

No one I am collabing with right now, I would like to, of course, to bounce ideas off of each other, but maybe right now isn't the time. Hopefully in the future it will happen. It would be rad!

Listen to more from George West via Bandcamp and Soundcloud

We discovered San Pancho by-way-of Oakland, LoCura with buzz about their performance at Outside Lands 2013 and this week they prepare to release their new album, Dale de Comer. Recorded by Juan Manuel Caipo, the band brings a collective sound inspired by the Americas, Afro-Cuban jazz, and a far-reaching global sensibility. With a release party planned for tomorrow, February 8 at The Independent in SF, LoCura promises horns, hearts, and hand percussion ensembles, timbales, congas, cajon, vocals and more from multi-instrumentalist, Sergio Antonio Durán. Check out the LoCura's lively album title track, “Dale De Comer”, that features Asdru Sierra from OZOmatli. Stick around for our interview with Sergio, following the listen.

Over a discussion about drum arrangements and the bass acoustics on portable Blutooth speakers, the multi-talented percussionist Sergio Antonio Durán took a moment to talk about LoCura's recent adventures between gigs, album recording, touring, and everything else.

We were just talking about this crazy one-man band-percussion setup you just got, how is that impacting your sound and contributions to LoCura?

So the one-man band… in LoCura I am the only percussionist. We have a drummer and I always try to play where she is not playing. I play Timbales, Congas, Cajon, all the hand percussion toys and sing back up chorus, also the 'hype man of the group' with each of those drums there are certain parts that lock within each other, so I try to play as much as I can and play as many parts as I can without stepping on anyone's toes and complimenting the flower in the garden witch is our singer or whom ever is in the spot light in the moment. Playing with LoCura and being the only percussionist has challenged me so much with my independence, playing with my foot a hi-hat shekere and with the right hand a bell, the left on a drum and singing chorus or lead with my voice. It's like playing four people's parts, and it's so much fun! I feel like it makes my sound fat but simple, keeping the most important parts steady and adding a funky swing. And since I have studies Afro-Cuban folkloric music and am a practitioner of the religion, I felt I have brought a more spiritual playing with LoCura, feel instead of think.

(LoCura live at The Independent, SF, courtesy of Brian Fisher)

Describe what lead you to your eclectic passion for all things pertaining to drums. When did you first realize that percussion was your main thing?

I went to School of the Arts High School as a visual artist, and my closest friends where in the music department so I kind of became inevitable for me to learn. Originally I wanted to sing, but my friends suggested to learn a bit of percussion first so that when I sing I have a better understanding of the time and rhythms. But I stayed with the percussion and fell in love. I practiced every single day for hours in cubicles at school to my favorite CDs. From old 70s Salsa, boogaloo, and Latin jazz. I always had a thing for trombone and it never left me. So I just recently picked it up and its going to be a long journey but I am willing to go along for the ride. You will see me adding trombone to LoCura sets soon as well.

(LoCura live at The Independent, SF, courtesy of Brian Fisher)

There are so many mixes of styles in the music of LoCura, the Afro-Latin-Cumbia audio-accents that lend to a sound that is so bass heavy with the revelry of horns and voice. What does a songwriting, practice, and recording session look and sound like for LoCura?

Usually with songwriting our singer and guitarist will have a basic idea and some vocal melodies to start out and when we get together we just feel it out. Every time its been different, I cannot explain how that process begins or develops but there is always some thing out of the blue that will spark our attention and we get super excited about it. As far as recording… this is my first album with LoCura, and I felt like recording was always an exciting and exhausting fun experience, thus the name LoCura! ['craziness'] I felt free to push my ideas out their and began noticing in the studio that I was capable of doing more and my creativity level expanded.

Speaking of which, you all have been running around the Bay and the rest of California and everywhere else it seems, recording Dale de Comer and playing mad gigs. How has the album recording process impacted you all, along with all the subsequent performances?

With LoCura i did not just get to see most of California but i also got to see Oregon, lots of places in Washington, Tijuana, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, driving in a tour bus with all band members, gear and all, even guests. I got to play what I felt for all sorts of people and different locations, that was an amazing experience I will never forget. And soon we will go on tour to a country in Central America where our old drummer now lives. I don't think the album has hit us yet until maybe this coming Saturday for our CD release [at San Francisco's The Independent]. I'm still just in rehearsal mode and looking forward to present a awesome show, I think after it releases and we let it sink in then it will have more effect in our performance but as of right now I'm just going for the ride.

How did LoCura hook up with Asdru Sierra on the title track, “Dale de Comer”? That song is pretty rad.

“Dale de Comer” is a funky tune and I personally never met Asdru Sierra but I know our singer and other band mates have and they simply asked him if he would like to sing a bit and he said yes. The song was already made and we made space for his part witch added a very beautiful touch and feel.

What other groups are you and the band really into right now that are doing similar and/or different things like LoCura?

Well each one of us in the band have our specific genres of music we listen to, but we all listen to stuff like Fela Kuti, OZOmatli, Pedrito Martinez, Camaron De La Isla, Jazz, and basically world music.

You all must be pretty stoked for your SF gig at the Independent tomorrow, February 8 for the release of Dale de Comer. What's next for LoCura?

We are so stoked for the show and to release the CD. I'm actually pretty excited that my co-workers of my day job will be there and I am specifically playing this show for them! And that's straight from the heart and soul baby! I just cant wait. After this show we are in the middle of planning a tour to Nicaragua for March of 2014! Our old drummer lives there now and we are going to have a blast playing our music countries away! and hopefully more song writing!

Join LoCura tomorrow, February 8 for the Dale de Comer release show at SF's The Independent.

(Napoleon, photographed by Jillian Billard.)

Brooklyn's Julian Anderson chucked text books out the pedantic window, and formed Western winds from his own private Waterloo with the band, Napoleon. Preparing to release his latest single “Jealous” through Loose / Manimal; we take a walk after midnight and run in time to the moon beamed energy of “Moonlight”. Anderson's grasp of the rhythm guitar and keyboard usage economies creates the soundtrack for holidays spent out in the countries where data signals and internet connections struggle but late night lusts run free. There is even a breath to almost every instrument involved on “Moonlight”, as light acoustic applied echoes create a living menagerie of an indie pop anthem that turns into one of the brightest synth sauced songs of pop brilliance you have probably heard all day. Just wait until Julian turns up the tired eyed love note into a crooning knock-out ending to an already grand audio artifice. Mr. Anderson also joins us today for a discussion round.

Napoleon's Julian Anderson talked to us about being “too passionate to sell insurance”, tuning in tube television, dropping out, starting the band, and more.

What brought you to decide upon the name, Napoleon? Is it that kind of leadership drive that inspires your music?

It was just one of those things I guess. It was a hot summer in NY and I had just dropped out of college. After a long nite I woke up at my friends Carlos’ place in Harlem. He had one of those big tube TV’s and we could only watch “I Love Lucy” on VHS or the one channel he had. We decided on that one channel. Which, of course happened to be PBS. Which, I don’t mind at all. There was a documentary on Napoleon. Anyways, I dropped out of college cause all I wanted to do was start a rock band. On my way home from my buddies house I was thinking of names for the band. I thought, ‘what the hell, we all got a complex’. And so Napoleon was born. Thanks PBS… O ya, and Napoleon!

What brought you to start Napoleon, and round up a band?

I guess I sorta answered that already. Because I love rock n roll and am too passionate to sell insurance. I’ll probably end up doing insurance for a local zoo one day though.

“Moonlight” runs at an incredible pace, and then there are those rad moments where you feel like the song is headed for an abrupt stop and then you pick up the pace. Is this your way of capturing a kind of wide awake at midnight feeling?

Moonlight was a product of just being out all the time and constantly being inspired by friends and bands here in Brooklyn. After being a ‘bedroom writer’ after many years, I began to leave and go out to shows. I realized that kids in Brooklyn don’t want something sleepy. They crave a drumstick against a cymbal, in your face, and live. I also learned this from playing out as well. Things began to pick up compositionally and “Moonlight” is an example of that. O, I started to flirt with synths for the first time too. One of my good buddies Andres Pichardo and his band Grand Resort got me into synths too. They great!

It's a pretty massive song, consider all the different moments and transformations at work, “Moonlight” is pretty gawdammed mighty.

Haha I guess it is pretty mighty. The real epic part at the end was written with Cory Sterling. It was our first collaboration. He had just joined the band. I remember us looking at each other when we finished writing the ending, we knew things were gunna be purdy aight! Collaborations are like love. They’re hard to find. But when you find it you better put a ring on it. Cory and I are happily married.

Give us the low down on the “Jealousy” single.

Cory and I decided to try and write 30 songs last March. We didn’t get to 30 but definitely wrote a whole bunch of tunes. One of ‘em was Jealousy. Lyrically it’s a bit of Phillip K Dick’s Do androids dream of electric sheep? I finished reading that and thought, how jealous androids must be of humans. Oh, and I was a pretty jealous guy at the time too. I had a love that didn’t pan out at the time.

What other recordings, rehearsals, tours are in the works?

We are playing all over Brooklyn and the city. We are working on an actual EP right now. Trying to convince this beautiful church down the block from our apartment to let us record in it. Place is beautiful. And yes, we are dying to tour. Hopefully soon!

Listen to more from Napoleon via Bandcamp.

(Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath & Nick Sanborn, photographed by DL Anderson.)

Sylvan Esso won us with their single “Hey Mami” last year, and most recently with a listen to “Coffee” off the Coffee/Dress 12″ available March 25 from Partisan Records. Mountain Man's Amelia Meath brings her vocals of kindness and care into the organic, and percussive electro rhythm fields from Megafaun's Nick Sanborn. Their upcoming 12″ presents both acapella and instrumentals of the duo's sound that allows you to hear the components and constructions from one of the most inspiring duos around. So get comfortable as we pour you another cup of, “Coffee”, and invite you to stay a while and enjoy our discussion with Amelia.

Amelia Meath took the time to talk to us about our questions surrounding the sound creations of Sylvan Esso, how her and Nick make their music, the breakdown of how “Coffee” was made, news of a new record coming in May, and much more.

How do the two of you balance your organic and electronic sparse touch of subtlety in your music?

Nick and I are lucky enough to have found sonic partners in each other. Our two sounds appear rather disperate from one another, but when combined they make a whole that is much greater than the initial independent parts. We contextualize each other.

In terms of making songs, either Nick sends me a track, or I send him lyrics and melody in a voice memo. Then we talk and talk and push all the elements around until we are happy with what we made. Sometimes this is very quick, usually, we take a good long time.

“Coffee” sounds like your own styled, Music for Cafes, or for morning Mileeta drips. What thoughts went into this soft whirring chime track's construction?

“Coffee” is about falling in love again, when you already had what you consider to be your 'big' love. How sad it is when you recognize the feeling you have had before, and how hopeful you are, to get another try at making a life with someone. And all the waves of self doubt that go with that. To me, though more cliche of a metaphor than I want it to be, it feels like dancing. Hence all the old school dance songs strung together, “My Baby Does the Hanky Panky”, “Get Up, Get Down” when James Brown says it, means the same thing; start dancing! but they are in opposing directions. Nick had an amazing track lined up, I wrote a melody to it, and then we worked together to make it fit and sound like we wanted it to. Nick is a wizard with sound.

How have your respective work in Mountain Man and Megafaun informed your own symbiotic and collaborative craft as Sylvan Esso?

We have learned how to collaborate! Which you never finish learning, and how to live in a car! And how to be nice to each other even when someone ate your granola bar.

What's next for Mountain Man and Megafaun?

Mountain Man and Megafaun are hanging out, everyone is doing their own projects, and getting very stoked for each other.

How do you feel your styles have evolved from last year's “Hey Mami” single?

“Hey Mami” was the first song we wrote together. “Coffee” came a while later. We are getting cozier, pushing more boundries, using each others strengths. Learning all of the time!

You got the 12″ coming out in March from Partisan, what else are you two up to or have in the works for 2014?

Our record is coming out in May which we are very excited about! Other things: A whole bunch of touring. Making videos, eating good food, making new friends. Driving forever!

Sylvan Esso's Coffee/Dress 12″ will be available March 25 from Partisan Records.

Dag Savage's E&J album is available now from Dirty Science, and we got your limited time listen streaming here.

Ex Hex lent an amp busting listening to, “Hot and Cold” off their upcoming Merge Records 7″ slated for March 18 that will also feature, “Waterfall”, and “Everywhere”. The Hex rocks with glam chord authority, heralding from Washington, with an attack team of Mary Timony, Betsy Wright, and Laura Harris. find them on tour March 5 through April 5.

Mainland breaks some heads and leaves bruises with their title track, “Shiner”, off the February 25 slated EP. Read our premiere of “Savant” followed by an interview with Mainland here.

Yellow Ostrich prepares the album Cosmos for release February 25 from Barsuk, and dropped the electric guitar pop rebel vibes with, “Any Wonder”.

Vacationer and Body Language's Matthew Young is Seafloor, readying his Lure EP for release in February for Astro Nautico. We got the listen to “Bustnloo”, that brakes with bouncing rhythms, keen keyboards and mind massaging spaces that open like psyche-expanding portals throughout the track. Not to be missed.

Fresh from their debut release for Canvasclub, the new monthly single release series from Canvasback Music, ABUELA lent a listen to the club foot-stomping synth-snazz on, “True Colors”.

Yip Deceiver released their Brett Vaughn directed video for “Lover” off their album, Medallius. The through the roof 80s-affected pizazz is met with visuals that mix horror film fare with happiness.

Ahead of the upcoming release of his second album Thyluxe; our new friend Tynethys rolls out some of that new Sac underground expanse of knowledge to drop the mid-week mind trip of, “Humpday”. Showcased in one of our favorite features from 2013, Tynethys remains an artist to keep an ear out for. Wednesdays never sounded this out there…

Francis Harris invites you to kick back, relax, and “Lean Back”, with this cool cut off his upcoming album, Minutes of Sleep available February 24 from Scissor and Thread.

The Demons EP is avaialble now from Apollo Records, and Tree with a little directorial assistance from Steve Dabal takes you on a visual trip, “Stuck Down The Wrong Rabbit Hole”, feat. Beat Culture & Lena Kuhn. Beware of animated rabbits, all ye who begin this adventure…

Iamsu! dropped some love for the fans that are fresh off his single, “Only That Real” ahead of his album, Sincerely Yours, with the freestyle, “Yesterday”, that brings none other than the massive and mighty likes of, 2 Chainz and Sage The Gemini. The single is hot off iTunes, and the freestyle kicks off right now.

With the Paper Doll EP available, take a pop ballad trip sliding down the piano keys with twin sisters, Michelle & Melissa-Macedo's, “17”.

The Singles bust out the hand and tambourine slapping big band-stand pop with, “Inamorata”, off their upcoming album, Look How Fast A Heart Can Break, available April 1.

Having just inked a three album deal with Mello Music Group, get a taste of the classic copped samples on L'Orange's ” The Lost Nova” ft. Mr. Lif & John Robinson. Find this off, Mandala Vol. 1, Polysonic Flows.

Check out the Matts Barrett video of Cape Lion performing a Live Attic session version of their song “Brother” off the Swedish duo's upcoming EP. With a clever Rhodes piano, keyboard, drum machine to guitar/vocal assembly, the two present a testament to the brotherhood that lies between family and friends.

Shot in wonderful Super 8 by Sally Cinnamon in Olympia, Washington last November, check out Kathleen Hanna's The Julie Ruin performing “Goodnight, Goodbye” with an April tour with Screaming Females ahead.

Ages And Ages expand your depths of perception with the angular-strum-core cut, “I See More”, off their upcoming album, Divisionary, available March 25 from Partisan Records.

Heading on a tour beginning tonight through March 8 with Gardens & Villa, Waterstrider takes a trip up north through the great “Redwood” forests of California on the cut that sounds like a road trip on the 101 Highway. They are releasing a five song EP February 11 that features contributions from various members from Bells Atlas, The Seshen, songs from Astronauts Etc, Trails & Ways, amongst others. Read our interview with Waterstrider here.

This week I caught myself getting materialistic and bossy to Clyde Carson's “Bring 'Em Out”, with that DJ Mustard diamond design production off Carson's Playboy dropping March 4.

With Violent Light dropping February 25 from Kill Rock Stars, check out Milagres sun-tan fuzz beats of, “Sunburn”.

With their album Voice from a Rented Room available February 18 from Drag City, check out the haunting b/w video from Willem Jones for New Bums' “The Killers and Me”. The bums' acoustic tones take you into a home made film about life with a thrill kill cult of surprises, and all kinds of discoveries made between the piano keys, and unfurled carpets.

And With Drag City's reissues of early 70s releases from creative country boy, Michael Yonkers, catch out this fun strummer made with Jim Woehrle on, “Borders Of My Mind”, sure to get stuck in yours and stuck on repeat on the player. Wait for the future's call, and the whispers of tomorrow with this little ditty blasted straight out of yesterday with the bonus of stoned laughter at the end.

Get a listen to ingMob's “mmm”, off his Marrow album available February 10. This track washes over you like a synthesized shower of warm mineral springs that fall in ways that thrill you to the bone.

We also got Seattle four piece, Special Explosion's art of hiding away with the solace searcher of, “Hide”, off their upcoming, The Art of Mothering EP available February 25 from Topshelf Records.

In case you missed it in the mix, catch Scott Reitherman, aka Pillar Point's new brilliant cut, “Echoes” off the Polyvinyl self-titled available February 25.

Douglas Alvin Foulke Jr. directs Creepoid's video for “Sunday”, ahead of their self-titled release, available March 4 from No Idea Records. With weekend, sleepy morning vibes, let Creepoid melt the creepy-crawling sentiment with some mellow, all American rock and a performance video in slow motion.

Workout helps you to work it out with a cross-dressing characters, massage parlor mischief and more in the Charles Hodges and Jeff Dryer video for, “Life is a Nightmare”, off their Rockit Science album.

Having dropped his Highway Transmission tape from Hit City U.S.A., feast your ears and senses on that very cassette of the same name streaming here, from Calvin Love with love.

Of their upcoming album, Dancin' With Wolves, available February 25 from Burger Records, take a trip with Nashville's one and only Natural Child, “Out In the Country” to clean the city's scum out of your soul. 'Cause after all, who keeps it really than these natural life-lovin'-&-livin' dudes?

Dropping the Mekanix slapped track, “Fuk That,” featuring East Bay patriarch Too Short lending a verse on a cut from J Stalin's upcoming Shining in Darkness (SID) for April 22. Pay attention and take good notes as these Bayside bosses tell you that you need to keep on that grind if you intend to get yours.

Leyland Kirby lends a listen to the title cut from his February 18 slated EP for Apollo Records with the electro ambient breaks of, “Breaks My Heart Each Time”.

Listen to our friends Chalk and Numbers turn The Misfits' “Angelfuck” into a vintage slice of retro jangle-sweetheart-bubble gum pop. Keep an eye on C&N, as they could take over the world if they want. Listen to more from the Brooklyn duo via Bandcamp, and our coverage here.

Nir Felder's album, Golden Age, is available now from OKeh Records, and we got a smooth jazz rendering of his song, “Lover”, performed live at Rockwood Music Hall.

Jaakko Eino Kalevi dropped the Heatsick's Remix of “Memories” with the “Continental Drift Mix” full of new drums and new synths off the upcoming Dreamzone Remix EP available February 17 from Weird World.

Mas Ysa shared the intimate electro confessional of, “Shame,” from their Worth EP available now from Downtown Records. Catch the group on tour now, with a release show February 10 at Glasslands, and SxSW appearances.

Get lost in the woods of blue with Ryan Hobler, and the Rob Mead video for “See What You're Doing To Me”, as the NY artist preps a new album with producer Andy Baldwin and plays Rockwood Music Hall February 20.

Diane Cluck strummed some folk fringed sentiments of the serious, and acoustic, on “Why Feel Alone” off her upcoming album, Boneset, available March 4 from Important Records. Acoustic hymns for loneliness were never this transcendent.

Secret Colours dropped a listen to Positive Distractions Part I, with news of the two part series being released together on both vinyl and cassette April 29. Catch them on their return to Austin's Psych fest this year, and our debut of “City Slicker” here.

Pandr Eyez are back, and the other week they talked to us about their new Present EP and recently the duo dropped a listen to their post-pop and big beat bop, with the ratchet and real, “Brr”. One of the most exciting UK x US acts to watch, they are here to make Disclosure sound like flash in the proverbial buzz pan.

The word is out. Our friends Diarrhea Planet are setting out to tour with fellow Nashville notables Those Darlins, with a tour that kicks off February 16 at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and more dates to be announced. More celebrations are in the works with further details to emerge in the days to follow, but in the meanwhile you are welcomed to enjoy the following treasures from the Darlins. First up is “Why Can't I” that waltzes to the pacing steps of frustrations, self-doubt, and hapless hopes, and sentimental simmers of sorrow sliced into the midnight walking worlds of dreams.

We also got the Gems on VHS video for Those Darlins performing “That Man” at Nashville Scene headquarters' archives/morgue as part of the Live in the Morgue series. Guest vocal appearances feature Caitlin Rose, Tristen and Adia Victoria, from the song found on Those Darlins' album Blur the Lines. Watch this space for dates regarding their tour with Diarrhea Planet.

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