Review: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Mature Themes”

By Kevin Wells

Who is the new Ariel Pink EP for? Scratch that. Who is the new Ariel Pink? On song after song on Mature Themes, he plays one character or another, sometimes inhabiting, without any apparent credit, other songwriters’ personae entirely, as on “Symphony of the Nymph”, where he dresses up and impersonates Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes for the verse, and Joe Walsh for the chorus. In actuality he’s become the poor man’s Badly Drawn Boy, a competent manager of his sound and a desperate, craven, trendfucking dilettante when it comes to the music’s philosophy… realizing that his genre currently mandates a certain fussy idiocy–defenders would claim the offbeat tradition of Zappa the way unfunny comedians invoke Andy Kaufman’s “anti-comedy”–Pink is operating as a politician.
Yes, he deigns to blow the dog-whistle his fans so badly want to hear–more Casios, more ProTools masturbation–while also making sure to give each track enough of a hook to qualify for some commercials. Don’t flatter yourself, kids … your dad is definitely Pink’s target audience now, so long as your dad is under forty and enjoys being pandered to. Case in point: the final burst of Pink’s personality disorder, excuse me I mean his new album, is a sentimental ballad named “Baby” that’s sung kind of like Smokey Robinson, played a bit like Cat Power’s “Greatest” band, and which features the head-scratching refrain, “Baby, you’re so baby”. I can see Pink now in concert, contorting the melody into something jagged and upsetting, pretending as if the studio version was not a direct bid for some of that sweet GAP airplay.

The standout song is the title track, naturally, a winsome, winning Joe Jackson rip; more appropriate would be the sub-Miss Piggy disco turd “Pink Slime”.


Adventure Galley Shares the Vibrant Video for “Weekend Lovers”

Taking a page out of the electro-indie-pop book of groups like The Killers, Adventure Galley boldly goes above and beyond to grab your attention. Their catchy hooks and pop sensibility blend to create the perfect combination of indie rock bliss. Adventure Galley are one of those brilliant bands that successfully manage to meld more than a few genres into one song, splicing together elements from all the bands you know and love, whilst creating something totally new at the same time. Formerly signed to Myspace Records after winning a Nationwide competition, Adventure Galley is back stronger, and catchier than ever. Their live show is truly a mind blowing experience and an all around audience dance party, with anything and everything as fair game.

The video for “Weekend Lovers,” is not only beautifully done with a blast of vibrant colors and intriguing characters, but it invokes human nature. Our favorite part? The lyrics and scene at the 2:10 mark.

Adventure Galley is playing at Central SPAC on October 1st in Santa Monica. It is highly suggested that you head out and see this amazing band!

Stephan Nance Surprises with “A Troubled Piece of Fruit”


Stephan Nance is an extremely unique breath of fresh air. Only 10 seconds into his debut release, A Troubled Piece of Fruit, you will find yourself immediately hooked. One of Oregon’s greatest kept secrets, Nance blends the perfect element of charming pianos and a voice that can truly stand on it’s own. Stephan could very well be the lovechild of Jukebox the Ghost and The Decemberists, which is truly a compliment.

Opening the album is the intriguing piece “I Am Not a Stranger Here,” where a jaunty piano perfectly meet melodies combined with Nance’s quirky yet sugary pop voice. The listener will already believe that they are in for something special…and they are. “Cuddlefish,” proves to be a cute love song with the ocean as it’s playground, using different fish as imagery as he pulls in his catch.

The album takes a melancholic turn as the track “Spring,” enters into the picture. The heartbreaking song is gorgeously done and will pull on your heartstrings immediately. As soft strings enter into the piece one can really feel the emotion in Nance’s voice. The love song journeys through time as “Fall” is the next masterpiece on the record. Not as gloomy as the prior, the subject matter is deep as it is full of regrets and a pass that he wishes he can do over. This song speaks to masses as we all have done things we wish we could change in life.

Firecracker,” picks the pace back up with a prominent guitar which borders on the blues. Nance’s bright piano and harmonious voice enters with a burst of energy, and ends up being a fun play on words throughout. “Made in Vermont,” chimes in with a lovely horn section, as Nance’s voice proves to be beyond infectious in this song.

Paid By Weight,” starts off heavy and continues throughout, as each note of the piano is felt within, every thump of the drum’s foot pedal sends a shiver down your spine, and every pronunciation of each word lingers on Nance’s tongue. Up next is the catchy tune titled “Immunodeficiency,” which will have you pressing the repeat button more often than not. “The Song I Didn’t Write,” has the quality of a seasoned songwriter, which is very prominent throughout the entire record. One would find it hard to believe that this is Stephan’s first release. Each track is carefully crafted and meticulously thought out, and it shines throughout.

One-Way Sea,” is a fun tune that is reminiscent of Jamie Cullum, without the jazz, which is beyond ideal if you ask me. Nance’s voice knows it’s limits and he uses it wisely, as it flawlessly fits the piece. “Resurrection,” is a personal favorite on the album, as the choppiness of pianos and guitar, and even vocals at time, are contagious. His vocals standout more so in this track that any other, as he seems to have a bit of fun with them. Thisimpressive piece proves to be a show stopper, as does the following “Japanese Garden/Jardin Japonais,” The song tells an interesting tale about what appears to be a dream of Japan, with an amazing twist, as Nance starts to sing in French! The surprise is exquisite as it appears more than once in this outstanding track and is guaranteed to send chills in your veins.

Closing out the album is the viral sensation, “Song for Losers,” which is the most adorable geeky song that you will ever hear. The track will have you dancing around your room, brush-microphone in hand. This can be the national anthem of geeks everywhere, and it will make them stand up and be proud. This is the perfect end to the record, which I wish would never end.

Stephan Nance is destined to go far with a Trouble Piece of Fruit, as it is a brilliant introduction to this astounding singer and songwriter. Keep an ear out for Stephan Nance. It will be a name that will be making waves very soon, if it hasn’t already by the time that you read this. I urge you to check out this record, as it will change everything that you know about modern music; and that’s a good thing.

R.I.Y.L. : Jukebox the Ghost, The Decemberists

Listen: Stephan Nance Bandcamp

California Wives Debut New Video, Head On Tour with Diamond Rings

California Wives seem to be everyone’s favorite band this year, and they certainly have even greater things ahead as 2012 comes to a close. Not only did they just premiere their newest video for “Purple,” during this week’s VMA’s (What? MTV playing music? Absurd!), but they have also just announced a batch of lengthy tour dates with Diamond Rings this fall, that kicks off later this month. Two stellar acts on one bill? You would be well advised to jump on those tickets early!

California Wives Tour Dates

9/12 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall (CD Release Show)
9/16 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern
9/17 – Toronto, ON – Parts and Labour
9/18 – Buffalo, NY – Ninth Ward

Tour Dates w/ Stars and Diamond Rings

9/20 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall
9/21 – Boston, MA – Paradise
9/22 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
9/23 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
9/25 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
9/26 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
9/27 – Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theatre
9/28 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
9/29 – Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
10/2 – Louisville, KY – Headliners Music Hall
10/3 – Cincinnati, OH – 20th Century Theatre
10/4 – Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe @ Old National Centre
10/5 – St. Louis, MO – Plush
10/6 – Columbia, MO – The Blue Note
10/9 – Lawrence, KS – The Bottleneck
10/10 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
10/11 – Little Rock, AR – Revolution Music Room
10/12 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Upstairs
10/13 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theatre
10/17 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
10/18 – Los Angeles, CA – Mayan Theater
10/19 – Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theatre
10/20 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore

Cymbals Eat Guitars Premiere New Track “Hawkeye”

I still remember seeing Cymbals Eat Guitars as a bright-eyed band playing at Brooklyn Bowl at an Insound Anniversary party co-headlining with Real Estate and The Drums a few years back. The critically acclaimed group are opening for the legendary Bob Mould on a few East Coast dates, kicking it off last night at the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn. Cymbals Eat Guitars unleashed a new track to the masses yesterday as they premiered “Hawkeye,” on Pitchfork yesterday afternoon. The dreamy track blends just enough sugary twee feel into their unique sound, creating the perfect song to get you in the mood for Fall. Give it a listen, you won’t be sorry.

Listen to Cymbals Eat Guitars “Hawkeye” over at Pitchfork HERE

DATES with Bob Mould
9/10 – The Paradise – Boston, MA
9/11 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA

Oberhofer Heads On Tour, Releases Video for “Cruisin’ FDR”

With CMJ coming up shortly, Oberhofer always brings back memories. I remember catching one of his earliest sets a few years back, as he played a CMJ day show at Piano’s on the Lower East Side. It is truly amazing to see how he, and the band,  has grown since then. Just as catchy and intriguing as when they first started, Brad Oberhofer and Co. continue to bring their music to the next level, without fail, every time. The group has just released their latest video for “Cruisin FDR,” and a slew of tour dates for your eyes and ears with Matt & Kim, Best Coast and Phantogram to name a few.

Tour Dates 

09/16 – KBZT / SD’s Annual Independence Jam – Oceanside, CA #
09/22 – Pearlpalooza – Albany, NY *!
10/03 – Higher Ground Ballroom – South Burlington, VT *
10/04 – The Westcott Theater – Syracuse,    NY *
10/05 – Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ON *
10/06 – Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY *
10/07 – Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA *
10/09 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC *
10/10 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC *
10/11 – The Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte,  NC *
10/12 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA *
10/13 – Austin City Limits Festival – Austin, TX
10/14 – The Fillmore Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL *
10/16 – The Moon – Tallahassee, FL *
10/17 – The Ritz Ybor – Tampa, FL *
10/18 – House of Blues – New Orleans, LA *
10/19 – House of Blues – Houston, TX *
10/20 – Stubb’s BBQ – Austin, TX *
10/21 – House of Blues – Dallas, TX *
10/23 – Marquee Theatre – Tempe, AZ *
10/25 – The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA *
10/26 – Fox Theater – Oakland, CA *
10/27 – Roseland Theater – Portland, OR *
10/28 – The Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC *
10/30 – Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA *
11/01 – In the Venue – Salt Lake City, UT *
11/02 – Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO *
11/03 – Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS *
11/04 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO *
11/06 – Slowdown – Omaha, NE *
11/07 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN *
11/08 – Rave Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI *
11/09 – The Vogue – Indianapolis, IN *
11/10 – Congress Theater – Chicago, IL *
11/11 – Majestic Theatre – Detroit, MI *
11/13 – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH *
11/14 – Newport Music Hall – Columbus,    OH *
11/15 – Terminal 5 – New York, NY *
11/16 – House of Blues – Boston, MA *
11/17 – Wellmont Theatre – Montclair, NJ *

# with Fiona Apple, Best Coast, Gardens & Villa

* with Matt & Kim

! with Phantogram