EL VY Proves to Be More Than Just a Side Project, with Debut Release, “Return to the Moon”

el vy

The much buzzed about EL VY creates an inspiring album, Return to the Moon, out now via 4AD. Consisting mainly of Matt Berninger of The National and Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls/Menomena, what the duo creates is something honest, heartfelt, and truly unique.

Like when all high profiled musicians break off from their main band, there seems to be a bit of a back and forth skeptical reaction that travels throughout the internet. I believe it was in Pitchfork that I had read a blurb stating that Berninger and Knopf were “incompatible” as musicians. To be honest, yes, they kind of are incompatible as musicians; but on the bright side, that is exactly what makes this combination work well.

The first two singles shined light on the blending of two parties; first with “Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)” and the follow up “I’m the Man to Be.” The first singles were definitely a departure from Berninger’s deep and heavy sounds of The National, but it allowed us to see a more upbeat version of what he has to offer. Knopf on the other hand, brings a stunning element of instrumentation to the table that sometimes provides a lively vibe, and other times, a haunting and unusual sound. The mixture of these elements seem to work completely, as they weave throughout each track of the record.

The biggest misconception that a listener can have going into this, is that it’s going to sound like a “National” record. It’s not. Then Berninger would just be working on National songs right now (Right? Right.). What would be the point? The voice is there, but the content isn’t always as heavy. You’re going to dance, you’re still going to get depressed as hell, and you are going to love every moment of it.

Releasing a series of lyric videos directed by the multi-talented Tom Berninger, it provides multiple songs with an intimate look to capture your attention even more. Tracks such as “Happiness Missouri” bring a haunting, yet determined sound into play, while harmonies fill the album in pieces such as “Silent Ivy Hotel,” or the chilling musicianship of “Paul is Alive.” Songs such as “No Time to Crank the Sun,” offers up Matt’s signature delicate crooning, as “Need a Friend,” shares a more vibrant sound, that brings Knopf’s intricate brand of musicianship to the table. Together they create a truly special musical experience within Return to the Moon.

Each piece on the record is strong enough to stand on their own, which is perhaps why the group decided to release a track one at a time leading into the record. Return to the Moon is perhaps the finest record of 2015; mark my word.

EL VY is currently on tour, recently kicking off their Eastern U.S. dates, with two stops in New York. Friday at Bowery Ballroom, and Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. See you there kids.

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Matt Pond PA Want You to Pick the Songs They Play

The East Coast is about to have Matt Pond PA roll through on somewhat of a co-headlining tour with Rocky Votolato.  For this tour, both artists will be accompanied by full bands, so they have claimed to “bring more of the rock” this time around.  If that sounds exciting to fans of either band, here is the real treat: Matt Pond PA are accepting votes from you to pick the songs they will play on the tour.  Votes should be sent to mppa@mattpondpa.com, and will be compiled by guitarist Chris Hansen. Choose wisely.

Tour Dates:

SEPTEMBER:

09 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry

10 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club

12 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall

13 – Pontiac, MI @ The Pike Room

14 – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop

15 – Harrisburg, PA @ Abbey Bar

16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg

17 – Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall

18 – Ithaca, NY @ Castaways

19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s

21 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar

22 – Raleigh, NC @ King’s Barcade

23 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club

24 – St. Augustine, FL @ Cafe Eleven

26 – Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub

27 – Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder

(West Coast dates to be announced soon)

Oberhofer @ Coco66, Brooklyn, NY – May 15, 2011

Coco66, which is just a blinking neon sign blaring BAR in big red letters, is a non-descript venue with a secret performance space hidden by a big velvet curtain. The show starts at 9:45, but for all good things one must wait. Vacation kicked off the show with their synth guitar, dreamy sound. Lead singer Paul Daily has a velvety voice (he sounds like Matt Berninger from The National) and wraps you in his own world when he sings “Penny Pincher.” From here the crowd kept dreaming with the next opener Windowpeak. A female-led slow grind, dreary rock band that sounds like Mazzy Star. This band is simply incredible and it’s clear that they will be going far. You have to listen to “Harsh Realm” and “Burnout.” You will not be disappointed.And finally, Oberhofer. It was as if all the air had gone out of the room and was replaced with this fucking incredible sound. Their set was way, way too short in my opinion. I could have listened for hours. They closed with “I Could Go,” my favorite Oberhofer song. Something about the light show, Brad’s sincerity in his voice and the yearning sound of both guitar and drum completed the show in the most perfect way. I had a brief chance to talk with Brad Oberhofer backstage who told me of his passion for orchestral music and plans on one day scoring films. Which seems to be new indie scene phenomenon, with Broken Social Scene scoring “Half Nelson” in 2006 and Phoenix scoring the new Sofia Coppola film. All in all the show sounded like three bands, all good friends from Tacoma, Washington, having a good time. They each amped up the energy of the crowd as much as the last band, all their sets were super tight and the light show perfectly complimented the music but didn’t distract from it. Oberhofer will be recording new material after their tour. Next stop, Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI tomorrow night (May 18) with Neon Indian.

Delta Spirit @ Webster Hall, NYC – November 23, 2010


Last night I hoped a train down to Webster Hall to check out Delta Spirit. The band is out of San Diego, California and can be described as a “hybrid of rock and northern soul” and they brought both in spades. I arrived as Darker My Love was about halfway through their set. Darker My Love had a great, bright country mixed with psychedelic sound but was visibly upset after lead singer and guitarist Tim Presley spilled a beer into his Vox amp. He asked the crowd if it sounded all right and I yelled to assure him it sounded great (It really did!) .

After they wrapped up their set, I actually got a chance to meet Tim Presley himself outside. We talked guitars for a bit and exchanged emails so I could send him addresses of repair shops. Hopefully they can get their gear in line before getting out for the rest of the tour. We said goodbyes and I hurried back in to catch the Delta Spirit start their show.

This guy was so excited he passed out.  He was escorted out as the band was coming on, little did I know this would be a hint to their massive energy and power. The band opened with ‘White Table’ multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich backing the band up on orchaestral drums. The song was a powerful slow build to ‘Golden State’, a catchy as hell bumping and grooving song, which would come to be a hallmark of the show overall. ‘9-11’ followed, punctuated perfectly by the great lyrics and comfortable voice of singer Matt Vasquez. They were constantly engaging the audience, a very welcome break from the stand with arms folded shows I’ve been attending. Even when the band would take things down a notch on ballads like ‘Ransom Man’ they had the audience totally engrossed. The song was a slow burn to an epic noisy freakout, and it was awesome to see the guys let loose.

The energy carried them to rocking and rollicking ‘Streetwalker’ featuring Winrich on some mean organ parts. ‘Parade” featured some smooth bass grooves from 4 string maestro Jon Jameson. Vasquez dedicated the song to all the out of towners like himself and the band set into ‘St. Francis.’ The crowd got so excited the song even had a stage diver! I wouldn’t say he dived as much as skanked as if “he was at a ska show in 1995” (Kelly Winrich’s words, not mine) The band was fair enough to dedicated a song to the local crowd and played ‘Bushwick Blues’ next, an ode to hopping n the L train and living the hipster life up. This song was actually proceeded by my favorite moment of the night. Vasquez begas a story with “So the second time I dropped acid I walked into my friends bathroom and started playing this song” which lead to a piano and vocal cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (gleefully joined in on vocals by happy rock fans like me in the crowd) into my personal favorite ‘Trashcan’. If that song has somehow missed your ears I pity you.

Before wrapping up, the Band launched into ‘People C’Mon’, another crowd favorite off the band’s first LP “Ode to Sunshine,” Then went into ‘Childrens’ which I was lucky enough to capture a bit of below. I wanted to get some video of the crowd in action.

The band closed up with the closing track off their latest album, “History From Below,” the ballad ‘History.’ Vasquez said the song was inspired by a man who killed his wife’s lover. I don’t know if I can say it ended the night on a high note but the song cemented the band’s set as a serious statement that they will return soon with more rollicking tunes and good times.