Music Miscellany

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The CL Intern Issue: The vibrant viral voices of Florida’s collegiate a cappella groups

Florida’s collegiate a cappella groups are a web sensation

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Whether you’d dare to admit it or not, you had a blast watching Pitch Perfect. Yes, I’m even looking at you, middle-aged man in the Joy Division T-shirt and fully tatted sleeves. Betwixt the jazz hands, beat-boxing and bombastic singing, what’s not to love about a cappella groups?

No Southern Accent
  • No Southern Accent
In summary, a cappella is a group of people who strip down and rearrange music to be performed without any instruments, often reinventing familiar or popular tunes. They sometimes even use their voices to emulate the instruments themselves, while the more traditional groups focus solely on harmonizing. The a cappella scene is blossoming, and it’s been sweeping across the collegiate stratosphere.

One group of performers particularly talented at making music with their mouths is No Southern Accent, from the University of Florida. It’s a completely student-run award-winning coed a capella group originally established in 2001. No Southern Accent annually attends SoJam, a convention held in North Carolina, and ICAA, the International Championship of Collegiate Acapella (which was the exact competition featured in Pitch Perfect).

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why Phish? Let me break it down for you...

When you see a band 65 times, they’ve got to be doing something right.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 6:00 AM

As soon as I meet someone new and the introductions are out of the way and we get to the requisite “What do you do?” part of the conversation, a question arises that I both dread and anticipate in equal parts, depending on how knowledgeable the person claims to be:

It's all about the love, baby.
  • It's all about the love, baby.
“Oh, you write about music — what’s your favorite band?”

It’s almost like a trick question, because often, the person asking isn’t as interested in hearing my answer as giving one of his own and immediately astounding me with his tuneful awareness, or using my answer as a basis for comparison to her own seemingly superior (and usually rather rigid) musical taste, then listing all the reasons I’m wrong. It turns into a debate; we’re arguing in circles and neither side is really listening to what the other has to say.

It’s this willful ignorance that usually dictates my response to the question: a vague “too many to name,” because why go through all that? But if the person continues to pry, I’ll be honest and without batting an eye, respond, “Phish. What else is there?”

I’m not ashamed of my love of Phish. I’m just reluctant to have to justify the music that has informed the decisions I’ve made and the path I’ve taken for the past decade, which ultimately led me to the person I am today.

But, for the folks who are genuinely curious as to why I’ve seen this band 65 times, and will continue to see them until they stop touring, it’s a Tao sort of thing, and I’m gonna break it down, as simply as possible. 

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

UPDATED: Chinese rock 'n' roll feature: Red Rock book talk

A book talk and concert shed light on the growing world of Chinese rock ‘n’ roll.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 6:00 AM

UPDATE: Unfortunately, due to some visa problems, Chinese rock act Re-TROS will NOT be performing this Thursday, July 17 at St. Petersburg's Local 662. Ticket refunds are available at the Welcome Desk at the Museum of Fine Arts. 

It’s hard to imagine a world without The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis or Led Zeppelin, let alone one that evolved without rock ‘n’ roll at all. But up until the 1970s, China was this world: isolated from the rest of 
mankind for centuries, lacking in innovative sonic growth, not only barren of diversity but discouraged from it. Chairman Mao’s 10-year Cultural Revolution and legacy of destruction set the population back even further as the “impure” elements of Chinese society were violently suppressed or eradicated altogether.

The disillusionment that followed his death in 1976 paired with an increasingly open marketplace spurred the start of yaogun, or Chinese rock music, not to mention prompting a complete transformation of China’s musical landscape.

Writer, musician and promoter Jonathan Campbell was entrenched in the Beijing music scene while living in the city from 2000 to 2010. In his 2011 book, Red Rock: The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & Roll, he pairs his experiences and first-person accounts with historical background, quotes and anecdotes from key players.

China underwent a musical revolution just like everywhere else, but it was born from entirely unique circumstances, amid a period of increased openness to the West that was still limited by the government’s heavy restrictions and regulations. To complicate matters even further, China was a few decades behind the rest of the world musically, and issues of accessibility to Western music — which arrived in a tightly controlled trickle — proved another handicap, since the previously isolated populace was effectively starting from scratch, in a creative vacuum. 

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Help Teach Me Equals record their new EP

The Sarasota duo is due to release a new vinyl EP.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Bortnichak (left) and Murphy (right) at St. Pete's Local 662. - PHIL BARDI
  • Phil Bardi
  • Bortnichak (left) and Murphy (right) at St. Pete's Local 662.

The last time I caught up with Teach Me Equals' Erin Murphy and Greg Bortnichak, they were embarking on their first North American tour, armed with a pop-up camper attached to their Honda and ready to perform 12 months of shows across the U.S. and Canada. “When you have three months or six months on the road, you come back as a different band and your sound evolves,” Murphy told me then.

She was right. 

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Of Montreal documentary The Past is a Grotesque Animal set for June release

The doc gets a nationwide release in June; of Montreal hits State Theatre this Tues., May 6.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM


The Past is a Grotesque Animal, a feature-length documentary about of Montreal and its wildly prolific bandleader Kevin Barnes, will premiere with a nationwide screening tour starting this June.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Neil Young to premiere high-quality, awkward-looking music player and download service

The $399, 128GB PonoPlayer delivers audio quality so good, you can't even hear it.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 9:00 AM


Because legendary folk singers with loads of cash and half-cooked ideas need something to do with their time, Neil Young will premier his newest venture, a high-quality digital music service called PonoMusic, during his speech at the South by Southwest Music Conference today.

PonoMusic includes both an audio player, which looks like the lovechild spawned between a Wii remote and a name placard, as well as a desktop "media management" application, which will deliver the "finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels" that users can sync to the player, according to a press release.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Watch Bruce Springsteen show Aussies how to twerk, then pray it happens (or doesn't) again in Tampa

He cuddled a wombat Down Under, too.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Bruce Springsteen at Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. on March 22, 2013.
  • Phil Bardi
  • Bruce Springsteen at Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. on March 22, 2013.
Well, you may love it or hate it, but twerking officially reached Springsteen-ian levels on
the last stop of Bruce Springsteen's Australian tour at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre (via Billboard).

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Never Take It Off: Merch with meaning from the Simms siblings

A flourishing jewelry line aims to give fans hope.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Juliet and Tommy Simms of Never Take It Off
  • Juliet and Tommy Simms of Never Take It Off
Alone, determined and armed with only an acoustic guitar, rock songstress Juliet Simms set out to make her mark on the Van’s Warped Tour in 2007, hitching a ride on the bus of her friends from pop-punk outfit Cute is What We Aim For. Once there, she spent the entirely of the summer hopping from tent to tent, asking to play some of her songs. Fest creator Kevin Lyman found out, and— to her surprise — urged her continue. The next year, he invited her and her band Automatic Loveletter to play on stage.

Since then, Simms has become a Warped staple. In 2011, seeking a more intimate and special connection with fest-goers, Simms spent hours tying bracelets on fans, talking to them about their fears and dreams. These conversations eventually turned into “vow lists.”

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