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The Beat Generation: Mecanico – South America’s Freshest Disco Export

Late Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once said, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” And while it feels like spring hasn’t really sprung for a lot of us stateside, this won’t stop budding young synthpop group Mecanico and their brand of dancey disco rock from coming into bloom. Maybe because the group is so fresh faced they look straight out of high school. Maybe because it’s fall in the Southern Hemisphere and that season probably hasn’t been as depressing as Spring has been to us in North America so far. In any case, it looks like Santiago, Chile has a new musical export.

The core fresh-faced group consists of producers Nicholas Parra and Ignacio Ramirez with added personnel for their live show. The groups brand of poppy electro is certainly in vogue at the moment but the band has been able to distinguish themselves enough in their short career to share the stage with contemporaries like Bag Raiders and Miami Horror. The group is also savvy beyond their years; outside of managing a few social media presences (including yours truly) the group has also released the stems for all of the material that they’ve officially released so far. For those of you not up on your production lingo, you can go to the band’s official site and download all the tracks to their songs for personal remixing purposes. You can find the stems to their Barcelona EP here.

Now what do they really sound like, you ask? “Fanatic” feels frantic, like it was ripped straight out of the ’80s riding a new wave melody until it crests and plateaus with a kind of poppy energy reminiscent of Phoenix. “Barcelona” brings to mind a more straightforward Delorean and the aforementioned Miami Horror with pretty synth and “Pacific Pearl”, currently entered in the Electronica Channel, could be mistaken for a Two Door Cinema Club track that spent a bit too much time clubbing the other night and can’t get a few songs from the DJ mix out of its head. Mecanico may be a group composed of teenagers with a history that only extends back to 2010, but that just means that these kids have their whole lives ahead of them. The future looks bright indeed.

Lords Of The Dance

Centrevol

The call of the band is one that’s hard to resist. It’s what prompted three Bostonians to pick up and move out west to Long Beach, CA and create Centrevol. Be glad they did, cause now you have something to get your blood pumping. The band delivers supersized pop rock with the melodic punch of U2. Anaconda hooks, rock steady drums and big, hulking harmonies are served up in “Save Yourself.” With “On A Roll,” hand claps rain down throughout the whole song, daring you not to join in. Centrevol is all about rallying, baiting their listeners to dance with something irresistibly kinetic. Nowhere is that device employed more effectively than in “Fifth Avenue Dream.” Beginning with a slinky descent, the track tumbles into percussive dance rock with sailing falsetto harmonies. You can stay seated if you want. But if you do, it’s your loss.

Woodland Creatures

Jessie Murphy In The Woods

Most bands have an m.o., whether it’s simply the love of making music or the dream of power and influence. For Jessie Murphy In The Woods, the drive comes from Murphy’s desire to recapture a perfect autumnal moment from her childhood. And that desire has yielded songs that are literate, bright and haunting. The group is comprised of Murphy, Marcia Wood, and Amy Wood—all music teachers. Between the three you get a quixotic assemblage of woodwinds and brass, percussion and strings. There’s an economy to JMITW’s chamber pop arrangements that gives each idea its own space. “God Save Owen Wilson” is as funny as it is sad—the somber flutter of flute and a baleful horn in the distance juxtapose whimsically with a mock-heroic refrain about, well, Owen Wilson. The vibe is Sufjan Stevens in heels. “New York City Lights,” on the other hand, is folksy romanticism, sung without affectation. The orchestral, theatrical “In The Woods” tries to conjure the faintest whiff of that perfect autumn day, invoking the “virgin forest” with urgency. Even if the moment is forever out of reach, the music that’s produced in its wake is worth the loss.

 

 

 

[Ed. Note: You can download "God Save Owen Wilson" on the OurStage Facebook page for free, where it is featured as one of OurStage's Editor Picks for the month of May.]

Supernatural

A-Natural

With a gospel and jazz-singing mother and a guitar-playing, producing and songwriting father, it was almost a no-brainer for A-Natural to follow in the family business. In addition to music, religion was a constant in the singer/producer’s childhood, and a focus that’s continued in his career as a gospel-pop artist. That said, his song “Selah” would seem pretty secular if not for the title. Loosely translated from Hebrew as “pause, and think of that,” “Selah” indicates a musical interlude in the liturgy. The track jumps off with a monster beat, sounding like N.E.R.D. re-envisioning Janet Jackson’s “If.” Crunching, squealing textures lay the groundwork for the chorus, where A-Natural bleats “Selah” over and over. It’s hard to discern any piety in lyrics about going out to the club and dealing with the paparazzi. But maybe we’re missing the deeper meaning. We’ll pause, and think of that. You do the same.

Heard It In A Love Song

McClain

When couples perform together in bands, it’s tempting to snuff out any clues on the state of their union in the lyrical content. Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” signaled the imminent crash and burn of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, for example. But with McClain, husband and wife team Travis and Lindsay McClain talk about longing more than leaving. Their delicate folk songs are spacious, romantic vignettes. “Central Park”’s lithe harmonies gain a deeper resonance thanks to a violin and piano, as the McClains sing in unison, “All I want is for you to walk through that door.” A simple statement, but one that rings true. “Growing Old” ups the tempo with tambourine rattle and electric guitars, exposing the duo’s country patois. Probably their strongest track is “Nobody Town,” a graceful, somber number with a mellotron and cello and vocals that flutter up into effortless harmony. As long as the McClains keep longing for each other, we’re in for some lovely music.

Backstage With Nikki Lynette

Nikki Lynette has never been one to play it safe. Despite being told she didn’t fit into a genre, Nikki powered through, creating her own blend electro, hip hop, rock and pop. Slap on some fishnets and leather and mix with Nikki’s energy and excitement, and you’ve got a star in the making. So much so that after entering (and coming in second place) in OurStage and New Music Seminar’s Artist On The Verge Competition, MTV caught a whiff came calling with a licensing deal. Go backstage with Nikki below to hear more about how it all came together.

Running On Full

Jesse Terry

If you’re an artist looking for a break in Nashville, chances are you’ll play at least once at the Bluebird Café, the city’s unofficial woodshed for raw country talent. Jesse Terry has performed his fair share of showcases at the Bluebird, which has helped to establish him as one of Nashville’s most promising up-and-comers. The singer-songwriter crafts big, soulful country music polished to a shine in the studio. “The Runner” is a tale of restlessness, where yawning guitar riffs, piano pangs and the mournful warble of lap steel bear the chorus up. Dark and sultry, “Devil May Dance” explores infidelity and the bottle. “AM static on the radio / Looking for last night’s clothes,” Terry sings over the wail of an organ and electric guitar. Trading alcohol-fueled fire for a more contemplative sobriety, “Edges” takes the production down a notch, letting a poignant guitar and dusty percussion do the talking. Terry’s got a lot of material, and the talent to become one of country’s great storytellers.

If You’re Happy And You Know It …

The Mowgli's

Barking dogs, idle chit-chat, jubilant whoops—the background noise of The Mowgli’s is almost as interesting as what’s going on in front of the mic. The California band’s relaxed approach to recording creates the effect of a soundtrack to a boisterous campfire sing-a-long. Five vocalists make for a rag-tag choir where improvisation is always welcome. Take, for instance, “Waiting For The Dawn/Blues”—an unruly and earnest folk-blues revival. “Let’s change the world!” the choir shouts. With one vocalist, the line might sound cheesy. But when everyone sings it, you’re more inclined to roll with it. “The Great Divide” is simpler, sweeter terrain. As a composition, it’s stripped back, but the choir helps fill the void with feral, joyful singing. Think of The Mowgli’s as a laid-back Fleetwood Mac, high on life. In “San Francisco,” a loose and shambling folk rock song, the choir sings, “Do you feel the love?” We do. Now it’s your turn.

Brood Music

It Girl

It Girl may not have been together long, but they have a mission: world domination … and maybe, along the way, finding Richey Edwards, rhythm guitarist from the Manic Street Preachers. So says their one-line bio. Edwards, who disappeared back in 1995 was an enigmatic force, but Glasgow’s It Girl seem capable of establishing their own cult status, provided they keep doing what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is this—crafting stark, jarring post-punk redolent of Interpol and Joy Division. “Hailey Commits” is angular and unwieldy—wiry guitars wind up over a monotone chorus of “I am nothing without you.” On “Locust 1” those same guitars sputter against a punchy beat. The mood is expanded in “Locust 2,” a nervy concoction of scraping riffs and ticking drums. Is their music bleak? Sure. Frustrated? Most definitely. But troubled is often the hallmark of great artistry. Besides, we all need music to brood to.

Tiny Hearts, Big Ideas

The Tiny Tin Hearts

With influences that range from Sufjan Stevens to Fela Kuti to Bruce Springsteen, The Tiny Tin Hearts defy categorization right out the gate. The Austin band brings banjo, French Horn, cello, violin, trombone, piano, lap steel, guitars, bass and drums together for a joyful jumble of sound. They’re not ones to play it straight and simple, which makes them a consistently fun listen. Based on the true story of Mexican aviator Emilio Carranza Rodriguez, “The Aviator” is a sprawling anthem of tumbling pianos, shimmering tambourines and a blaze of guitars. “Navesink” is an intricate folk melody that showcases the entire genus of stringed instruments, from electric guitar to violin and banjo. It’s lovely and complicated—two words that apply to virtually all of the band’s canon. But, lest you think you’re beginning to understand their method, they serve up “Gnoissienne No. 2,” an elegant, classical waltz. Ambition can take on many forms, and The Tiny Tin Hearts seem to have them all mastered.

 


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