Posts Tagged “Freelance Whales”

Freelance Whales released their sweet and honest debut album in September of 2009, but audiences are still getting acquainted with this tenderhearted quintet from Brooklyn.

Frontman Judah Dadone (lead vocals, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, synthesizer, bass) drew on inspiration for the band’s name from a near drowning incident in the Sea of Galilee when growing up in Jerusalem. He was seeking to grasp a rock to prove that he reached the bottom, but found it difficult to regain the surface. The Israeli fisherman who pulled him out called him in Hebrew a “freedom whale”, which then metamorphosed into the increasingly familiar name. The reference to the musical mammal and the gesture to a do-it-yourself attitude ties Dadone together with bandmates Doris Cellar (bass, harmonium, glockenspiel, synthesizer, vocals) (lead vocals, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, synthesizer, bass), Chuck Criss (banjo, bass, synthesizer, glockenspiel, harmonium, acoustic and electric guitar, vocals), Jacob Hymn (drums, percussion, vocals), and Kevin Read (acoustic and electric guitar, glockenspiel, mandolin, synthesizer, vocals).

The members of Freelance Whales found each other through friends of friends and through Craigslist in 2008 as a result of Judah Dadone’s posts aimed at musicians who might fill his imagined sounds on unusual instruments. The band further bonded at a remote, eerie, abandoned farm colony on Staten Island where a friend suggested they videotape a performance. This late 2008 evening marked the first time the 5 brought their acoustic instruments together and performances throughout the mazes of NYC subway system evolved from the experience.

The collective honed their sound almost exclusively on the stages and subway platforms of New York City. At 2009′s end, the band journeyed on their first tour supporting the highly-orchestrated, swelling indie pop of London’s Fanfarlo. Several crowded performances at SXSW brought the band’s buzz to new heights after Spin named them one of 50 “Must Hear Bands at SXSW” and NPR simultaneously referred to them as “a band to watch this year” after a live appearance on All Songs Considered. 2010 saw an April re-release of Weathervanes on both Frenchkiss and Mom + Pop, the later which houses hot indie sensations Sleigh Bells, Metric, Tokyo Police Club, and Ingrid Michaelson. “Generator ^ First Floor” and “Broken Horse” were heard on NBC’s Chuck and the CW’s One Tree Hill. Soon audiences found Freelance Whales on tour with Bear in Heaven, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Shout Out Louds, and Tokyo Police Club.

Weathervanes is beautifully poetic and full of pastel imagery that somehow make stories of ghosts and nightmares enchanting. “Generator ^ First Floor” begins the bundle of storied tales which wrap the listener tightly for the album’s 46 minute duration. Dadone softly sings, “We’re finding every day several ways that we could be friends, And in our native language we are chanting ancient songs, And when we quiet down the house chants on without us.” This youthful optimism reveals the core of Weathervanes. “Hannah’s” chorus tempts the artful dreamer by calling “if you’re attracted to the night sky, if you’re vaguely attracted to rooftops”. “Location” follows Dadone searching for his ghostly sweetheart with mood filled lyrics contrasted with honeyed harmonies and hopeful banjo strums within the interludes. “Starring” is reminiscent of Ben Gibbard’s Postal Service with its infusion of electronics and synths mixed with Dadone’s soft vocals creating an electro pop gem with rolling choruses and a banjo solo to briefly interrupt the electric flow.

mp3: Freelance Whales – Location
mp3: Freelance Whales – Starring

The poetic story within “Broken Horse” follows the animal’s wintertime journey away from confinement with haunting, intertwining, and overlapping vocals. “Danse Flat” is strangely sparse and slightly spooky as it lures the listener into the depths of a deserted house with the sweet tune of a music box turning. “We Could Be Friends”‘s powerful ascending guitar lines, keyboard meanderings, and rock beats lift the song’s luscious lyrics, “I am convinced that we should be friends, We compare our hearts to things that fly, But cannot land.”

mp3: Freelance Whales – We Could Be Friends

Throughout Weathervanes, Freelance Whales make the most of each moment where vocals are absent to imbue the sound with numerous effects, xylophone tinklings, and atmospheric murmurings. The songs rest among similar tones, which create a sweet whole while deeper listens allow the distinctions to settle in. Most of these differences lie within lyrics crafted from Dadone’s childhood memories and dream journals.

Freelance Whales is currently on their 3rd U.S. tour following summer performances at Sasquatch! and Lollapalooza. Try not to miss them before they rise to another level and the intimacy now to be gained is gone.

Remaining Fall Tour dates…

Mon, Nov 27th – Hi-Dive / Denver, CO
Wed, Dec 1st – 7th Street Entry / Minneapolis, MN
Thu, Dec 2nd – Lincoln Hall / Chicago, IL
Fri, Dec 3rd – The Basement / Columbus, OH
Sat, Dec 4th – Brillobox / Pittsburgh, PA
Sun, Dec 5th – Mohawk Place / Buffalo, NY
Tue, Dec 7th – El Mocambo Club / Toronto, ONT
Wed, Dec 8th – La Sala Rossa / Montreal, QC
Thu, Dec 9th – Middle East / Boston, MA
Fri, Dec 10th – Iron Horse / Northampton, MA
Sat, Dec 11th – Lily’s Pad / New Haven, CT
Tue, Dec 14th – Johnny Brenda’s / Philadelphia, PA
Wed, Dec 15th – Webster Hall / New York, NY

Website | MySpace

Download Weathervanes through iTunes
Weathervanes - Freelance Whales

Tags: Brooklyn, Freelance Whales

Comments 3 Comments »

SXSW-2010

Ahh, SXSW. This 4-day conference and music festival has taken over as my favorite event of the year. Nowhere else can you experience the sheer quantity of quality artists, both high profile and emerging, back to back, all day and night long. Checking schedules for the day parties and evening showcases, running back and forth along the crowded streets between venues, wolfing down BBQ, and battling to see as much music humanly possible is the task. The reward is witnessing killer sets on intimate stages surrounded by audiences who care deeply about what is happening in music now.

Here are the 60 artists I caught this year: Band of Horses, Best Coast, Big Light, BRAHMS, Broken Bells, Broken Social Scene, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Dam-Funk, Dawes, Delorean, Dengue Fever, Diplo, Estelle, Fat Mike, First Aid Kit, Free Energy, Freelance Whales, Frightened Rabbit, Hey Champ, Hole, Holy Fuck, Japandroids, jj, Lissie, Lord T & Eloise, Macy Gray, Major Lazer, Maluca, Mayer Hawthorne & The Country, Memory Tapes, Miike Snow, Muse, Nas & Damian Marley, Neon Indian, Nick Catchdubs, Pase Rock, Phantogram, Real Estate, Rival Schools, Rogue Wave, Salem, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Sleigh Bells, Solid Gold, Stardeath & White Dwarves, Stars of Track and Field, Street Sweeper Social Club, Surfer Blood, The Antlers, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, The Black Keys, The Glitch Mob, The Low Anthem, The Walkmen, The xx, Titus Andronicus, Tobacco, and Uffie, and Yourself and The Air.

Now for the highlights…

Broken Bells
Broken Bells
Hometown: New York, NY
The band’s first performance at SXSW was in a parking garage across from Stubb’s as part of AOL Spinner’s pop-up show series. It was completely epic to see the band perform in such an obscure spot. Bizarrely enough, the sound was sonically blissful. James Mercer and Dangermouse along with their explicitly skilled band played some of the best music I’ll hear all year. Their woozy, psychedelic pop sounds even better live than on record.
MySpace | Website

Nas & Damian
Nas & Damian Marley
Hometown: New York, NY / Kingston, Jamaica
The smoky haze and resulting vibe in Emo’s Main Room was the perfect environment for skilled hip-hop lyricist Nas to ride atop the all-for-love energy of Damian Marley’s and his band. The gorgeous sounds of resounding djembe, female back up vocalists, and the Marley legacy contrasted with the Nas’ rhapsodic power felt legendary. Look out for their upcoming album, Distant Relatives.
MySpace | MySpace

mp3: Damian Marley & Nas – As We Enter – Distant Relative (April 20, 2010)

Band of Horses
Band of Horses
Hometown: Seattle, WA
The magic of Band of Horses dense musical glory was surely felt in Stubb’s on Thursday evening. The band seems to be at the height of their live performance and I recommend catching them now.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Band of Horses – Is There A Ghost – Ceases to Begin (2007)

Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
I caught two sets by BSS, one at Stubb’s and the second at The Parish as part of the Arts & Crafts Showcase. The gorgeous complexity of their music was awing at Stubb’s and they played a large array of tracks off their forthcoming album Forgiveness Rock Record. The Parish proved to be an entirely intimate experience as I suspected. The energy inside the 425 cap room as the band announced their plan to play a 2.5-hour set was infinitely special. Kevin Drew asked the crowd to put down their cell phones and cameras and to exist with him and the band in the moment. “Just enjoy the music,” encouraged Drew. They played songs live for the first time, created suspense regarding “unknown” guests (The Beauties from Toronto), and strummed through an array of classic BSS songs in a wholly raw fashion. By the end of the night, there were only 150 left in the room, making it feel as though we were catching an early career performance.
MySpace | Website

Free Download of “World Sick”
mp3: Broken Social Scene – World Sick – Forgiveness Rock Record (May 4, 2010)

The Black Keys
The Black Keys
Hometown: Akron, OH
I had yet to be converted into a Black Keys fan until I ended up on Mohawk Patio for the band’s MOG party performance. Halfway through the 75 minute set, I was a true believer. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney’s impeccable musicianship and moving bluesy rock imbued with tangible metal influences produced one of the most exciting moments of my 2010 SXSW experience.
MySpace | Website

mp3: The Black Keys – Tighten Up – Brothers (May 18, 2010)

Muse
Muse
Hometown: Devon, England

The British prog-pop stars played MySpace’s “Secret” SXSW Show at Stubb’s on Saturday night. Big energy from a big band that I never thought I’d see live, especially in a 3000 capacity outdoor setting. Epic.
MySpace | Website

First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
This Swedish female folk duo was more special than I could have imagined live. Sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg accompanying their impassioned vocal harmonies with guitar and synth as they played through woodsy song from their recent album, The Big Black & The Blue (2010), was an epic treat. Sweden is currently producing incredibly innovative and relevant music.
MySpace

mp3: First id Kit – Hard Believer – The Big Black & The Blue (2009)

Neon Indian
Neon Indian
Hometown: Austin, TX
I hadn’t yet joined the swarms exclaiming about Neon Indian, but after their psychedelic indoor set as part of the Pitchfork/Windish party at Emo’s JR, my opinion shifted. The band’s dance electro wanderings are more poignant than I had imagined.
MySpace

mp3: Neon Indian – Terminally Chill – Psychic Chasms (2009)

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark
Potentially one of my favorite finds at SXSW, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour from Denmark, provided an entirely captivating experience on the Billboard outdoor stage. Not only is Mette Lindberg likely the hottest performer in her Nordic country, but her rich and boisterous voice triumphantly meets her alluring stage appeal. As my brother aptly stated, it’s Parliament Funkadelic in blonde waif form.
MySpace

mp3: The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Around the Bend – Sonic Arts Ep (2008)

Hey Champ
Hey Champ
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Another lucky find came in the form of Hey Champ. I was immediately lifted by the electro-synth-dance-rock trio’s boundless energy. The set was filled with impeccable drumming and dramatic interplay onstage and with their aggressively exuberant audience.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Hey Champ – Cold Dust Girl – Cold Dust Girl (2009)

Free Energy
Free Energy
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
I only caught a couple songs from Free Energy, but I got it right away. Love their form of hook-laden rock that’s both glammy and classic. The explosiveness of the entire band yelling of “Bang Bang Pop Pop!” and lead singer Paul Sprangers shaping the curves of a female figure in the air while singing “cherry lips and long hair” is a lasting memory. I’m craving more.
MySpace

mp3: Free Energy – Bang Pop – Stuck On Nothing (2010)

Freelance Whales
Freelance Whales
Hometown: Queens, NY
While I like the tracks I’ve heard from the band’s studio album, Weathervanes (April 2010), significantly more than what I experienced live inside the Paste party at the Galaxy Room, it was certainly a treat to catch a band that we’ll be hearing a lot from over the next year. Their pop-driven folk rock with its precarious arrangements has lasting appeal. Together the fivesome created interlocking rhythmic patterns beneath lush textural layering and group vocals. The band used whatever musical gadgets they could get their hands on during the set including harmonium, banjo, glockenspiel and water phone on top of synthesizers, guitars, bass and drums. Did anyone else hear the lead singer say that it’s not such a good idea to roll in Austin as sweat was pouring down his face?
MySpace | Website

mp3: Freelance Whales – Hannah – Weathervanes (April 13, 2010)

Big Light
Big Light
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
I managed to see around 45 bands by the time I caught Big Light’s set on the Galaxy Room’s patio. Their raging set of thoughtful indie-driven rock outshone many of the hyped artists performing over the weekend. It won’t be long before this incredible group gets its just due.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Big Light – Monster – Animals in Bloom (2010)

Estelle
Estelle
Hometown: London, England
It was high on my list to see this Brit soul-rapper live and the set was worth the effort. Estelle was super high energy as she went off about cheating boyfriends and made sure the audience was enjoying themselves, including playfully threatening to come down into the crowd if it appeared anyone wasn’t having fun. She raged her hit song “American Boy” and deftly covered Coldplay’s “God Put A Smile On Your Face”.
MySpace | Website

Hole
Hole
Hometown: Los Angeles/London
Courtney Love is another artist I never thought I’d see live. I managed to catch Hole’s first live show in over a decade as part of the SPIN party at Stubb’s. Love’s girl garage rock unexpectedly seemed rather relevant despite the hiatus and he looked more attractive and alive that I could have imagined. Her stage banter was raucous as usual. She introduced her 2nd to last song as being the kind of song you write when you’re getting off dope and got righteously pissed off when she found out they only had time for one more. At the closing of the set she apologized to the audience for not stage-diving, saying she was too elderly!! Hilarious.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Hole – Skinny Little Bitch – Nobody’s Daughter (April 27, 2010)

Miike Snow
Miike Snow
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Miike Snow’s performance on the Galaxy Room Patio was truly the most out of this world show I experienced at SXSW. It’s difficult to know what to make of the combination of potent, layered synth-heavy electro topped with highly emotive, hippy-folk vocals, but the experience is one to be had.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Miike Snow – Sans Soleil – Miike Snow (2009)

Tobacco
Tobacco
Hometown: Parts Unknown
I stumbled in on Black Moth Super Rainbow’s frontman Tom Fec (aka Tobacco) performing a gem performance at Emo’s Annex as part of IODA’s day party. Ironically, a highly talented girl on synth contributed more than half of what was so compelling about Tobacco’s set. The duo is a must see for those moved by glitchy, synth heavy electronica.
MySpace

mp3: Tobacco – Dirt (featuring Aesop Rock) – Fucked Up Friends (2008)

Stars_of_Track_and_Field.jpg
Stars of Track and Field
Hometown: Portland, OR
This band has been one of my favorites since 2007 and I catch them as often as I can, which unfortunately is quite infrequent due to their spurts of inactivity. The band played their best version of highly layered indie rock within The Parish on Saturday night. I’m consistently amazing at the vastness of sound that comes from this trio. I get completely lost inside.
MySpace

mp3: Stars of Track and Field – Movies Of Antarctica – Centuries Before Love and War (2006)

Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit
Hometown: Selkirk, Scotland
I’m as taken as most by this folk rock band from Scotland and their urgent songs dealing with emotional turmoil. The effect of Scott Hutchinson’s plaintive and passionate vocals is devastating The quality of sound in the Galaxy Room during their appearance at the Paste party left much to be desired, but the band’s raw spirit came through.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Frightened Rabbit – Swim Until You Can’t See Land – The Winter of Mixed Drinks (2010)

Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus
Hometown: Glen Rock, NJ
A more raw, ruthless, energetic, and punk form of Bright Eyes is how I might best describe Titus Andronicus. Kept trying to leave their set to check out the next show, but Titus kept drawing me back in with their defiant vocals, heavily distorted guitars, and rambunctious, I don’t give a f**k attitude.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union – The Monitor (2010)

Phantogram
Phantogram
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Within the gorgeous IFC studio with its vibe-inducing blue-lighted backdrop (designed by Niki Eways of Nikipedia), the girl/boy, synth/guitar duo created another reality with their downtempo trip-hop for the intimate 50-person crowd.
MySpace

mp3: Phantogram – Mouthful Of Diamonds – Eyelid Movies (2010)

Street Sweeper Social Club
Street Sweeper Social Club
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
SSSC’s is Tom Morello’s best project to date since his days with Rage Against The Machine. The band had all the energy and attitude of Rage with Boots Riley from The Coup turning it hip-hop style. The crowd was rowdy, just as they should have been, and Morello’s guitar skills were jaw-dropping as always.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Street Sweeper Social Club – 100 Little Curses – Street Sweeper Social Club (2009)

Diplo 2
Major Lazer
Hometown: Jamaica (hmm…)
I knew Major Lazer was a nationwide sensation, but give it to SXSW to enable me on a whim to experience that up close and personal. Honestly it was the spectacle of hypeman Skerrit Bwoy jumping around and his hot bikini clad counterpart Mimi doing things such as bouncing her butt in a tri-pod headstand that took the set to its ultra-high level. Unfortunately, no Switch.
MySpace | Website

mp3: Major Lazer – Pon de Floor (feat. VYBZ Kartel) – Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do (2009)

Diplo
Diplo
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
After the Major Lazer set, I caught Diplo at the Mad Decent/I HEART COMIX/Jelly NYC After Party. The affair was dying by the time I’d arrived, but Diplo had it going on. Packing his back to get on a 7am flight while intermittently joining the DJ on hand and shooting his finger in the air and at the crowd to pick the energy back up was insane. Yep, Diplo’s ultra cool.
MySpace

mp3: Diplo – Smash a Kangaroo – Decent Work for Decent Pay (2008)

And here are the artists I’m bummed to have missed, but you can’t see everything at SXSW, though you might try: Ra Ra Riot, Local Natives, Oh No Ono, Fanfarlo, Bachlorette, Wye Oak, Ortolan, Rafter, The Very Best, Javelin, Jookabox, Anais Mitchell, Joshua James, The Black Angels, Pretty Lights, Passion Pit DJs, Diamond Rings, Washed Out, Twin Sister, Matt Morris, Beats Antique, The Cool Kids, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Lights, Evan Dando, Chiddy Bang, Snoop Dogg, Stone Temple Pilots, Chamillionaire.

Tags: Band of Horses, Big Light, Broken Bells, Broken Social Scene, Diplo, Estelle, First Aid Kit, Free Energy, Freelance Whales, Frightened Rabbit, Hey Champ, Hole, Major Lazer, Miike Snow, Muse, Nas & Damian Marley, Neon Indian, Phantogram, Stars of Track And Field, Street Sweeper Social Club, SXSW, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, The Black Keys, Titus Andronicus, Tobacco

Comments 13 Comments »