Blue Madonna by Lucas Larson

Garrett Borns, better known as BØRNS, first emerged in 2014 with his debut
single “10,000 Emerald Pools”, a glistening pop song about fantasy love. His follow-up,
“Electric Love”, captivated critics and fans alike, even receiving praise from Taylor Swift
who called it, “An instant classic.” Now with a debut album and sold out tour under his
belt, BØRNS returns with his sophomore effort, “Blue Madonna”, whose title draws

inspiration from Renaissance art which largely inspired the record. “There was an Italian
painter Carlo Dolci who did all these portraits where the subjects were all looking out,
and off into the distance. They had this glow on their faces and this fear in their eyes,
and I found that interesting”, said BØRNS in his recent interview with Buzzbands LA.
On “Blue Madonna”, BØRNS explores this melancholy theme, singing about the
loss of innocence and natural growth that often occurs during adulthood. In the single,
“God Save Our Young Blood”, a collaboration with singer Lana Del Rey, BØRNS yearns
for a savior. “Faded Heart” and “I Don’t Want U Back” delve into the rocky sides of a
romantic relationship, while “Supernatural” suggests foreboding optimism with lyrics like,
“Is it us or is it supernatural? / Sometimes we fall so fast it’s hard to tell / Is it love or is it
simply something else? / Sometimes I think I’m caught under a spell”. Coupled with the
dreamy, psychedelic pop sound that fueled much of his debut, “Blue Madonna” is an
eclectic bundle of 60s, 70s, and 80s sounds, all the while feeling cohesive, largely due
to BØRNS’ decision to work solely with Thomas Schleiter (“Tommy English”) as
producer.
BØRNS shines on “Blue Madonna”, pairing his unique vocals with lush, spacey
production and melodic hooks that hide even the weakest of lyrical moments. With “Blue
Madonna”, BØRNS solidifies his position as an alt-pop heavyweight and proves that he
is here to stay.

Camila by Lucas Larson

Camila.jpeg

‘Camila’ (released January 12, 2018) by Camila Cabello

After a rocky 2016 in which Camila Cabello departed from the X-Factor produced group Fifth Harmony, it seemed as though she began 2017 in search of clarity. In May, Cabello released “Crying in the Club” a mid-tempo dance pop single that ended up sounding more like a Sia song than anything else. “Crying in the Club”, along with another track, “I Have Questions”, were the first taste from the album which was originally titled “The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving”. It supposed to depict the singer’s journey from dark to light. These songs and the album concept were ultimately scrapped, with Cabello opting instead for “Havana”, her breakout hit of 2017.

“Havana” is unmistakably Camila, borrowing from her own Cuban roots through its infectious piano rhythm and sultry horn melodies. The song immediately captured the attention of audiences, landing Cabello her first U.S. #1 hit. With this came the release of Cabello’s debut album, the eponymously titled “Camila”.

“Camila” builds on the success of “Havana”, implementing simple rhythmic chords paired with Latin and island influences evident in “She Loves Control” and “Inside Out”. Other tracks see Cabello gravitating towards acoustic guitar (“All These Years”, “Real Friends”) and minimalistic dance-pop beats (“Never Be the Same”, “Into It”) which catapulted hits by Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran to #1. While “Camila” borrows heavily from current pop trends, its delivery feels ultimately authentic through the assurance and conviction of both Cabello’s voice and lyrics. Contributing as co-writer to all 10 tracks, Cabello sounds honest and self-assured, revealing personal struggles on songs like “Consequences”. On “Real Friends”, a slow acoustic guitar jam reminiscent of Bieber’s “Love Yourself”, Cabello describes failed friendships as she longs for a faithful partner.

Perhaps “Camila”’s only failure is its unnecessary and distracting use of autotune which detracts from Cabello’s more raw vocals. Nevertheless, the album’s versatility saves the record from feeling thin. Although it is clear Cabello still has some growing to do, her unmistakable presence is evident from the start. The ease and comfort at which she expresses herself proves that indeed Cabello does know “Camila” best. 

Palm Pilot

Interview

by Charlotte Force

Palm Pilot is a band composed of LaGuardia’s Aiden Berglund, Rain Johannes, and Laszlo Horvath, as well as Eleanor Roosevelt High School’s Charles Michie. They just released an eponymous album, ‘Palm Pilot’. As a “puzzle-pop” band, this group derives influences from modern and contemporary art, math, shapes, and social issues. Together, they combine splashes of color and sound to create a “sonic equivalent of biting into Gushers candy.”

 

How did the idea for a band come about? How long did it take to really start?

Aiden, about Charles: “We used to be in a punk band together, called Atomiclock, but then I started making more melodic music because I was in New Music Ensemble at LaGuardia High School, which Rain later joined. I was writing these songs that were very much inspired by modern art, color, geometric shapes, and so I evolved the band along with my new interests in music (like Flaming Lips, Deerhoof, and Tame Impala) and I wanted to do more stuff like that. So that’s what I shaped this band around. My biggest picture for this band was experimental music, but at first we needed to write songs to play at shows that weren’t experimental. So then I got into the habit of just writing ‘songs’ that just had experimental parts, and we’re now trying to deviate from that more.”

Why did you choose “Palm Pilot” as your name? Does it have anything to do with your music?

Aiden: “I think it has a lot to do with our music. The kind of music you would expect from a band called Palm Pilot. I think I was reading something, and a voice in my head said ‘Palm Pilot’, and I thought ‘That’s a great name for something!’ Then I realized it was the name for an old phone, but I went with it anyway. I can’t give up a good band name.”

What’s the story behind your shape t-shirts?

Charles: “The band all about geometric shapes. The shirts reflect the way that the music is shaped.”

Aiden: “We all decided our shapes. I felt that it was appropriate for the idea we had in mind for the band. Singularity, as opposed to different personalities. It’s actually kind of Bowie-esque.”

Have you had other band members?

Aiden: “Charles replaced another member a while back [Michael Eliran of Dolly Spartans]. We’ve taught a bunch of the songs to Charles, and he’s come up with his own parts for some songs. [Michael] contributed to some riffs we wrote, and helped me arrange some stuff along with Rain, but he decided to focus on Dolly Spartans instead.”

Are you in any other bands/have other music projects?

Aiden: “I put out a solo record every now and then of acoustic stuff… ambient, organ-keyboard music with sound effects. I’ve found all of my favorite instruments. My first good electric guitar I found in my basement. That organ, I found on the street. The guitar I’m using for this show I found at my dad’s house.”

Charles: “Well, I have been consistently making solo recordings since the age of twelve. It’s gone in the ways of ambience a lot recently. It’s really hard to take that to a musical group if that’s all that you’re really interested in, so I like to think I’m really just a lichen attached to this big rock of Palm Pilot, while making unrecreatable music on the side. I’ve written a lot of songs that could be played live, but I haven’t really written straight songs in a long time.”

Rain: “Besides being involved with New Music Ensemble, I produce a lot of electronic music by myself. The stuff I write outside of Palm Pilot tends to be soft, more singer-songwriter acoustic music,”

Aiden: “You have a crazy range of styles.”

Rain: “I released a hardcore metal album recently. I do funk sometimes. I’m involved with a lot of things; I’m a universal remote.”

Laszlo: “I have Yabadum, and a project called Luca Brazilian, and Abby Apache.”

How often do you guys practice?

Aiden: “I want to start rehearsing more, to get new material, but usually we have a show every couple months and we get two or three rehearsals before, so about twice a month. I feel like that’s very little.”

Where do you find room to practice?

Aiden: “We have a secret spot! We started rehearsing at this studio in Brooklyn, owned by our friend Steven [the drummer of Dolly Spartans]. The weird thing about that studio is that it’s a really tucked away part of Brooklyn, and when you walk inside it’s just fluorescent.”

Rain: “And it’s an never-ending labyrinth.”

Aiden: “And every time we go in there, I’m really scared – it’s like Scooby Doo, when you run out the door, and come out the other door. It’s a maze of doors, and it’s really easy to get lost.”

Rain: “Like being digested by the building’s intestines.”

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened during rehearsals?

Rain: “The drums keep falling apart.”

Laszlo: “The beater of the kick drum keeps falling out, and I need to find some way to fix that.”

Charles: “Mostly, it’s just things not working.”

So your single, “She’s Being Polite”. How long did it take to write/produce, and why aren’t Charles and Laszlo on it?

Aiden: “That song is actually one of our newer songs, we released it before the album because we mixed it ourselves – well, Rain mixed it – and we recorded it ourselves at our school, in our basement. The quality isn’t amazing, and the drummer isn’t even our drummer, it was Levi just because he is in the class. But Laszlo is our go-to drummer, because we love his style (and his facial hair). And Charles isn’t on it at all, so it’s really just a three-piece.  But we put a trillion over dubs on it, and quadruple-tracked the vocals at some points, which was really intense. We released that song because we wanted to promote the Blue & Lucky show, and promote the record. To have something out that somebody could listen to, even though it’s some of our newer stuff. The album has earlier songs. For writing the song, it was really kind of simple. I started writing the chords last year, and we actually had alternate lyrics. Rain came up with the riff.”

Rain: “I wrote the riff, then the bridge.”

Aiden: “The verse… We were recording another song, and Rain was fixing stuff and overdubbing. So I was like, ‘Okay, I’m just gonna go write this song’.”

Who did the art for your logo?

Aiden: “Right now we’re using Laszlo’s girlfriend to make some art for the album. Addie Boyd. And she did the logo.”

Addie Boyd’s Tumblr: http://addie-boyd.tumblr.com/

Who did the art for the cover of She’s Being Polite?

Aiden: “My mom actually drew that! She’s a graphic designer and artist.”

What is your process (if any) for writing songs?

Aiden: “All of our music is written out – we’ve got stands. If you ever watch us play,”

Laszlo: “The noise sections in particular,”

Aiden: “Yeah. We try to make as much noise that’s written out as possible.”

Rain: “None of our music is a mistake.”

Aiden: “Even our mistakes aren’t mistakes. Mistakes are the best part. As for songwriting, I kind of put myself in a box when I started this band. I was like, ‘Alright, let’s make experimental music with cool effects’. At first I wanted to use a vocoder, and electronic drums. Then I realized we’d have to play shows, and I’d have to write a lot of songs in a short amount of time. So all the songs came out in basic song structures, like tiny boxes. I love shapes, condensed things, so it worked really well to make these little boxes of songs that people could just listen to. We also have a couple of jams that turned into songs. We’re writing more stuff now that’s less linear – more experimental. Now that Charles is in the band, we’re trying more ‘sound’ stuff.”

Charles: “The experimental facet of Aiden Berglund’s music has manifested itself in multiple side projects, such as the ‘Swimmer’ album, by Aiden, which is on his bandcamp, as well as the project called Midtown, which aims to describe musically the durge and gurge of midtown through sounds.”

Do you make musical decisions based on music theory?

Rain: “Subconsciously.”

Aiden: “At first I didn’t know what a major scale was – once I discovered how to use a major scale in music, it turns out people really like that. Major third harmonies – people love that. In this class that we’re in, New Music, people older than us, like Caverns and the Jacobins, would write a lot of music in odd time signatures. I was really impressed by that. Along with the whole mathematical, shape, and color oriented fuel that we use, I was inspired by odd time signature. If you listen to certain songs like “Inside Out” or “Sweet Thing” we use odd time signatures.”

How do you organize shows?

Rain: “We have people do it for us…”

Aiden: “Charles and I, in our old band, used to email every music venue in New York City, and say, ‘Hey, we’re a bunch of kids, and we’re gonna play music’. We would get screwed over so bad, wouldn’t make any money, and play at the worst venues.”

Charles: “It builds character.”

Aiden: “Now we have some friends who will help us out, like Arsun Sorrenti… His dad owns this warehouse in Brooklyn so we got on that show. It’s mainly our friends in different bands. They’ll get a show, and they’ll invite us to play. This is one of our first shows with this lineup. It’s one of our bigger shows tonight, at Webster Hall. We’re kind of riding on the coat tails of some other bands.”

Do you have a selection process for playing songs? Which ones get the best reaction?

Rain: “Transitions.”

Aiden: “Yeah, transitions are important. We kind of just play every song that we have now. There are a few we don’t play, just because they got kind of phased out.”

Rain: “I think 24th century always gets a good reaction. Just because it’s our heaviest song, and we usually close with it, so people are usually pretty excited to have an opportunity to mosh.”

Laszlo: “It’s usually the last song, and that’s when I’m just not paying attention to anything. Which is fun, and that’s a good way to end a set.”

Aiden: “I would say my favorite song to play is Inner Workings. That’s a really fun one.”

Who are your musical influences?

Aiden: “Tame Impala – they’re a neo-psychedelic Australian band. Deerhoof… The Kinks, kind of. I was listening to a lot of The Kinks this summer, so I wrote a lot of the songs around that. Elliott Smith, or John Lennon. I like John Lennon’s style a lot.”

Rain: “We’re less jazzy. Still progressive, but more ‘poppy’.”

What’s the best part of being in a band?

Aiden: “I think getting on stage and doing your thing is just the most liberating experience. When the audience is having a good time and you’re having a good time – that is just one of the best feelings. It’s like a natural high.”

The worst part?

Rain: “The worst part is dragging gear.”

Aiden: “Also paying for rehearsals.”

Rain: “Paying for things in general. Capitalism.”
Aiden: “Bands make very little money.”

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned from being in this band?

Laszlo: “I don’t really play drums live a lot, except when I’m doing Palm Pilot. In Yabadum, when I’ve sung and played bass, I know how to perform. When I play drums, I kind of just do what I like to do, what feels good at the moment. I don’t know how to do drums on stage – I’m kind of thinking the whole time, ‘Is closing my eyes and opening my mouth… okay… this feels pretty good… now I want to look at the audience, because I’m not looking at them enough… alright, closing them again…’. Just paying attention to how I fit into the mix. I’m still figuring it out.”

Rain: “Being in Palm Pilot has expanded my bass playing. Before, I’d stick to things that I knew, but with Palm Pilot I tried to extend myself. I think it helped me out a lot.”

What are your hopes for Palm Pilot?

Aiden: “Lots and lots of hopes. I would love to go on tour, gain a larger audience, release music that I like, and that people like. The progression of a band. Less of just be a band, and expand into more multimedia things. I don’t think ‘the band’ is the last aspect of Palm Pilot. I think it’s going to branch out, into more multimedia artwork. Visual art, soundscape art. There are also so many social movements to get behind right now, so I’m taking that into consideration. I want to be able to promote something that is not just a selfish desire to be a successful musician, but also to help in a way.”

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"Sweet Thing" - Palm Pilot

Song Review

by Charlotte Force

Spring is falling down in raindrops, daffodils, and a new single from Palm Pilot called “Sweet Thing”. The song features an upbeat guitar track and exciting rhythm reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, with a melancholy lemon twist. Sweet Thing is the first song released from Palm Pilot’s album, and given its flavor the album should be a fantastic soundtrack for the upcoming summer.

In this tune you’ll find the same thoughtful lyricism as in Palm Pilot’s first single, “She’s Being Polite”. It revisits that distinctly teenage-tinted romantic angst, but this time, the lyrics are more hopeful. In line with the decidedly buoyant tune, the words call out:

“I picked up my chin, started over again,”

“Sweet thing my heart beats for you now, speak to me, I'll say truly, you're the one I want,”

The song weaves in and out of a staccato medley of drum tapping and string plucking, with a calmer bridge of harmonies. Perfect for a day of stomping around park paths and city streets, Sweet Thing is the next download for those ready to celebrate spring.

The song was composed by Aiden Berglund, performed by the members of Palm Pilot, and mixed by Steve Holloway, a versatile artist whose career is threaded through celtic, pop, and jazz music.


The Kinsey Scale

Interview

Article by Charlotte Force. Interview by Nicolaia Rips and Charlotte Force.

Meet Gabe Paiano (guitar), Aaron Kisslinger (keys/trombone), Robby Jenkins (drums), Max Beirne-Shafer (bass), and Daniel Barbrack (vocals) of the Kinsey Scale. We sat down with four out of five members - Robby couldn’t make it - to talk about the band’s origins, accomplishments, and future. It all started with school lunch, The Bonnie Situation, and Dr. Titone’s Elementary Brass One class. Today, the Kinsey Scale has an eponymous album, and has played shows at popular music venues such as Webster Hall and Silent Barn. The issue of college and graduation lies ahead for the group, but the heart of the Kinsey Scale lies with its origins and antics: the soul that went into producing their marvelous album.

The name “The Kinsey Scale” begs answers - “We were originally The Zig Zags,” they say less than enthusiastically. The name they stuck with is much more suited to their current style – ‘Zigs Zags’ seems more the Warped Tour crowd than Burning Man or Woodstock. ‘The Kinsey Scale’ rings just right. As far as origins go, Gabe explained, “Our drummer – very handsome fella – Yabadum’s own Robby Jenkins, brought up the name. We all really enjoyed it,” but ironically enough, “now Robby kind of regrets it. I think it’s perfect.”

The (original) Kinsey Scale, or the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale, was developed by Alfred Kinsey and Wardell Pomeroy for the study Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. It rates people on a scale of 0 to 6, the lowest being exclusively heterosexual, and highest being exclusively homosexual (asexuality is graded with an “X”).

The Kinsey Scale has a tremendous stage presence - Daniel rocks out like Ian Curtis or Mick Jagger on stage, singing into Gabe or Aaron’s mics as the lights cartwheel through the rainbow and the music rocks on. Robby plays deftly in the back, not only setting the beat, but contributing to the crescendos and slancio of the songs. Seeing them play live, at venues such as Webster Hall or Funkadelic Studios, is like watching a fireworks display. Gabe Garcia, a Laguardia junior saxophonist, plays with the group sometimes at shows (and contributed to the sixth track of their album). Aaron plays a similar role in bands such as The Bonnie Situation and Yabadum – “It’s kind of like a circuit,” he says, “I’m a horn player, and someone who likes to organize horn sections, so I end up playing with them a lot.” He’s credited on The Bonnie Situation’s two EPs, “Daze and Changes” and “Logical Debris”, as a trombone player. These bands play a lot of shows together – “We’ve kind of grown up together,” Aaron continues, “but they were bands before we started. I kinda saw them and was like, ‘We gotta get on this.’”

Gabe, a Junior instrumental major (who was told not to say ‘anus’ during the interview, so that’s been taken care of) and Aaron, a senior instrumental major, met in the 5th floor cafeteria - Aaron says, “The first thing that happened, band-wise, was that I met Gabe. I started sitting with him at lunch, because he looked like a cool dude, and I didn’t know anyone, really, and so I talked to him and we started a band. Initially I was playing bass, and he was playing guitar.” The band’s first singer was Johnny Colapinto, who was quickly replaced by Chris White, who later left the band to make way for current vocalist Daniel Barbrack.

“We all realized that we had to start making music together,” recalls Aaron about the beginnings of The Kinsey Scale, “But it’s kinda become a different band than it was initially.” Indeed, their biggest influence used to be The Strokes, and each member has since changed the original style of the group - now they stick to their own unique sound. “Initially I was playing bass, and [Gabe] was playing guitar… later we ‘animorphed’ and we got a Max,” says Aaron, who met The Kinsey Scale’s future bassist in LaGuardia’s music department, where they both play trombone. They were in Dr. Titone’s Elementary Brass One class three years ago, “where we put out trombones on our heads and stuck our feet out a lot. We still do sometimes.”

Aaron got Max to come jam with him and Gabe one day. “We banged our heads against each other’s a lot,” Max recounts about meeting Gabe. “We just stared into each other’s eyes and head banged really close. That’s a kind of cool way to meet your best friend. So we got really really close really really fast.”

Robby then joined the mix, Gabe having known him for a long time. “Robby lives in my building. We’ve seen each other since we were little kids,” Gabe says. Robby was later introduced to Laszlo Horvath, bassist and singer in Yabadum, and joined that group as well. Max says, “Robby’s also in another group called Yabadum who you may know. They’re kind of a big deal.” Yabadum is a band that The Kinsey Scale often plays shows with, and the members are all friends. Max, Aaron, and Robby are also in the Youth Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra – the “Fat Afro-Latin Jazz Cats” - with Arturo O'Farrill.

Then along came Daniel - he and Gabe were on the Stuy Town baseball team together, but didn’t know each other until middle school. They came to LaGuardia for high school, although Daniel came a year later as an incoming sophomore. Daniel and Gabe would have fun making music together before the current singer joined The Kinsey Scale - “Gabe and I would collaborate on songs while I wasn’t the lead singer, and then I came in and we did a song that we wrote first, called ‘Beggars’. The first rehearsal I went to, I wasn’t in the band yet,” Daniel recounts, describing his first experience with the antics of The Kinsey Scale rehearsals. “Suddenly, Aaron just takes off his shirt, and then everyone, in their minds, thinks: ‘Oh yep, that’s the thing we’re gonna do.’ Except for Robby. Even though he’s the best looking one of all of us.” Eventually, Daniel officially joined the group, and his song “Beggars” is now on their album.

The record was recorded in only five days (overall). They recorded the live parts first – guitar, bass, drums, and occasionally keyboard – and dubbed additional sounds afterwards. LaGuardia junior Henry Munson engineered the album, and helped the band produce it - “This guy’s a wizard – a wiz kid. He wants to be a sound engineer,” the band says about their friend. “We all had our hand in mixing it, we put it out, and it sounds alright,” says Daniel. The production process, unlike recording, took a long time – but it was worth the effort, because the finished product is more astounding than alright.  

The Kinsey Scale’s process for writing songs is haphazard, but obviously productive - Daniel says, “It’s crazy. We show up at practice, and Gabe says, ‘I have a riff, and Robby you should do this’, and then Robby just does a different thing. Then Aaron, Max, and I contribute our piece.” Essentially, the writing process is intuitive – they all write lyrics and music together. Aaron, for instance, wrote the lyrics for “Drone” and Gabe contributed the guitar riff that transformed “Death Aquatic” into its current form.

Because LaGuardia music majors have to learn music theory, it’s a factor in their writing process – “At first when I was learning it,” Aaron begins, “I was like, ‘Damn, I can’t write normal songs now.’ Now, I’ve figured out that I just understand what I’m hearing and know how to do different stuff around it. It’s really cool.” Max amended that, adding “I think with the songwriting process, the best things really come spontaneously when you’re not thinking about it.” However, they agree you can build to those ideas using music theory.

The album was recorded at Max’s grandfather’s and aunt’s  art studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Bill and Brenna Beirne, both remarkable artists, have a space in the Beard Street Warehouses, “right across from Fairway”, which is where the magic happened. “They so generously lent us their studio for a week or two,” Max says gratefully.  Daniel supplied a lot of recording gear, which he acquired thanks to an office job he did over the summer. Offices pay well apparently, but this desk job helped fund rock n’ roll. “I spent it effectively – it all went into music, and now I have a full studio amount of things… which is great, because I have them forever.” With Daniel’s equipment and the space in Red Hook, they had complete creative control.

The album art was done by Niki Giokas – not a LaGuardia art major, but a Beacon High School student. “She is fantastic – a great artist, great person. She was really amazing about the art, and really fast. We’d say, ‘Could you do something different?’, and five minutes later we’d get a text saying ‘How do you like this painting I just did?’” They were awed by her talent, and love the album cover. She even painted the additional back cover, which you can see on CDs available at shows for $5.

 "The Kinsey Scale" album cover, art by  Niki Giokas

"The Kinsey Scale" album cover, art by Niki Giokas

The Kinsey Scale has played their album live many times since its release. They’ve been working with Will Mosko and Luke Steinberger of the band ‘Luke London and the Lucky Ones’, who’ve started a music management company. Will and Luke are helping The Kinsey Scale book shows at venues such as Palisades and Silent Barn. They’re also playing shows with some New York rappers (there was no name-dropping, but they seem excited) – at these shows there will be art galleries, so look out for announcements about art on their Facebook.  

Despite the upcoming excitement of shows, The Kinsey Scale has one tiny problem: practicing. When asked how often they get together to rehearse, they answered in a chorus of -

“Not often at all.” “We should more…”

Aaron elaborated, saying, “We fall into this habit of – we play a show, we’re like ‘Oh that was awesome!’. Then we don’t play a show for two months, we don’t practice until the week before that show, and we suck. Then we play the show, and go ‘Oh, that was better than we’ve ever played before! We don’t need to practice!’”

Max summed it up: “It’s a vicious cycle.”

When they do get together, it’s usually at Rivington Studios on the Lower East Side – they give it good reviews, saying “It’s a really good space; they have the weekend deal.” They used to go to Funkadelic studios, which is low key both for practicing and booking shows. The drawback, however, is that: “You leave smelling like you don’t want to smell. Like your parents don’t want you to smell.” It’s true – any article of clothing you wear to Funkadelic Studios will stink of cigarettes. The Kinsey Scale therefore sticks to the easier-on-the-nose Rivington Studios; not to say that Funkadelic is a bad space, it just requires stronger olfactive resilience.

Three singers, one album, and a few guitar picks later, The Kinsey Scale is a band to remember. Hopefully, Aaron and Robby’s upcoming graduation won’t spell the end of The Kinsey Scale. Reflecting on their experience as a band, the boys answered a few more questions:

What’s the best part of being in a band?

Daniel: “Y’know man – the community. You do it for the community, and you stay for the good vibes.”

Max: “Come for the food, stay for the music man.” “What more could we want.”

Aaron: “I wouldn’t be in this band if I didn’t love these boys so much. I love you guys. I get to hang out with these great boys.”

The worst part?

Daniel: “The girls man. The girls, the money, the attention.” (Well, who needs all of that?)

Aaron: “The worst? The worst is that it’s ending.” Robby and Aaron are graduating. More light-heartedly, he added, “We have this awful Facebook chat. It’s finally started to simmer down, but for months and months…”

What are your hopes for the Kinsey Scale?

Daniel: “I hope we reunite.”

We all do boys, we all do.

 

Find The Kinsey Scale on social media:

Facebook

Instagram

Bandcamp

Other projects and affiliated bands:

Aaron:

Aaron, Robby, Max

  • The Fat Afro-Latin Jazz Cats

Gabe, Daniel, and Max

Robby:

Affiliated:

A Compilation of "Shout-outs" from the interview:

  • Ilan Natter

  • Ms. Perez

  • Mr. Lonegan

  • Bandcamp

  • Soundcloud

  • 72 Warren Street

  • Salt

  • Rivington Studios

  • Bill and Brenna Beirne

  • Steve Shafer

  • Arsun Sorrenti

  • RapGame Frog and Toad

  • Childish Gambino

  • Laszlo Horvath

"She's Being Polite" - Palm Pilot

Song Review

By Charlotte Force

There’s a new tune coming your way from the rockin’ band Palm Pilot today: the new single “She’s Being Polite”. If I could choose one word to describe this song, I’d go with ‘relatable’. A composition of poetic lyrics line the thumping beat and slamming guitar.

It seems like every conversation you have sputters out like static television”

It won’t make sense to you now
Maybe when you’re older”

“She’s just too polite to kindly ask you to please go away”

I’d be interested to hear a single person say they can’t relate to these lyrics, which is all I ask for in a song. The music, of course, is slam-dunk as well. It’s almost ironically peppy, but the highs and lows effectively paint the picture of the every-man’s awkwardness that comes with a situation in which someone’s “just being polite”.

Those credited in the recording are Palm Pilot’s own Aiden Berglund, Rain Johannes, and Levi O’Brien, with thanks given to Gary Forgel, Ilan Natter, and Joe Ippolito. These lads have collaborated on an incredible song – listen to it live at Blue and Lucky on April 17, and here on Palm Pilot’s bandcamp,

Sam Smith: Pipes of Grammy-gold

Artist Review

by Priska Mohunsingh

Samuel Frederick "Sam" Smith is an English singer and songwriter. You’ve probably heard of his popular single “Stay With Me” or “Latch”, which feature the talented artist Disclosure. Sam Smith incorporates his real experiences and feelings to share with his audience. His first successful album, he's been known to say, was the album where he sewed his heart on his sleeve - it won him four Grammys in a night. With his both catchy and meaningful lyrics, he woos countless people everyday with his angelic voice that is subtly powerful and magical. At first, I wouldn’t listen to his music because I thought he “must be another pop singer trying to make it to the Billboard’s Hot 100, but then I heard a playlist of his beautiful music at a friend’s house. I was shaken by the amount of talent and perfection contained in one human being.

Amongst other popular musicians, Sam Smith is a favorite according to a recent survey I conducted. These were the statistics when I asked some vocal majors, arts majors, and instrumental majors on their choice:

As a singer-songwriter, I look up to Sam Smith. It is surprising how one song can instantly drill excitement into a person, but if the magic continues within each song, a larger audience is bound to grow for - especially for  an artist who seems both promising and devoted to music holistically. His music isn’t just for musicians to appreciate: I think everyone can appreciate his talent.

Some of my favorite songs by him include:

  • I’m Not the Only One

  • Latch

  • Lay Me Down

  • Not in That Way

  • Stay With Me

These are my favourites because he quickly switches from a lower voice to falsetto in the chorus. At first, I found the instrumentation of the piece “different” since I had never heard such a legato tune and powerful voice in “pop” music. By simply listening to his heavenly voice, I can say that he’s probably a great operatic singer since his has great vocal technique; his diction, legato, breath management, presentation, and resonance seem to be very well-trained and fixed. As a stylistic means, he bends the “rules” of music by adding his own popular twist and uncommon music range/scale for a male popular artist.

His music, in my opinion, is art. He has brought home four Grammy awards in one night, officially establishing his fame and talent in the music industry. Enchanting his way into the front lines of the music scene, in the 2015 Grammys, he earned four awards: Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album, Song of the Year and Record of the Year. He is an artist everyone should listen to - he's got that real vibe, that's often lost in the waves of Top 40 music and too often drifts in the Ocean of Unknown Indie Music.

Boy Bands at 80: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Concert Review

by Lila Meretzky

On Friday evening, March 20th, I had the great pleasure of being (along with my brother) one of the few people in the audience under forty years old at the Beacon Theater.  I was surprised when a family friend bought us tickets to see Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons - I was under the impression that Frankie Valli was dead, but to my glee, he was quite the opposite.  The music of Valli and the Four Seasons has been a huge part of my growing up; it played constantly in my house, and their “Golden Hits” album was the first CD I ever bought. To see him live (with four incredible young backup singers as surrogates of the original Seasons) after being raised to a soundtrack of his music was moving.   I’d never been to the Beacon Theater before, and its grandeur impressed me greatly. It was complete with murals of Medieval trade ships and 30 foot statues of Greek gods, yet the casual concert felt right at home in the decadent setting.  

Valli’s age does him great credit; never in my entire life have I seen an eighty-year old man move with the same energy, converse so easily with a packed house, and sing with the same voice immortalized on records made in 1962.  Even though the years have shrunk him slightly, it is as if his brain and vocal chords have been preserved in youth.  He swaggered on with the confidence of a model, wearing a simple grey suit, and the same haircut he’s had since the 1970’s.  Valli bears a striking resemblance to actor Dustin Hoffman, which, because I’d never actually seen a picture of him before, I found quite entertaining.  Between every set of three or four songs, Valli would pause, give a little background on the upcoming music, tell a joke, or relay an anecdote, while maintaining an air of humility and speaking concisely. Without being cloying, he told the audience about lying awake at night as a kid, dreaming of being a singer, about the first concert he ever went to, and who inspires him.  Valli has reached a high point in his career: a thriving baby-boomer fanbase still exists, and the passage of many years has distanced him from previous tragedies, scandals and fights with the Seasons (at least in the eyes of his concertgoers).  I’m familiar with his life story from seeing Jersey Boys on Broadway.  Now, Valli is free to perform a diverse array of songs from any point in his career, and embraces his age with grace, giving off a cantankerous grandfather-y vibe, while still performing with verve.  

Not only was the concert a tribute to his voice and career, but to the musicians Valli has worked with over the years.  A phenomenal troupe of brass and wind players, percussionists, singers, guitar and bassists, and a keyboardist/bandleader stole the show.  Many of these musicians have been on the road with Valli for years, and they complemented each other as if each one was a cog in a giant music making machine, led by Valli.  Nearly every song featured elaborate brass arrangements, flute and sax solos, and tremendous vocal power from the Seasons.  The energy level of the band far exceeded that of any other rock concert I’d seen, every note exuding the sheer joy of live performance.  Often as a classical musician I find myself prone to unintentional snobbery towards non-classical musicians, and it was both humbling and inspiring to see rock, jazz and latin musicians play with dexterity and meticulousness that equals any member of the New York Philharmonic.  At the climax of the show, when the universally recognizable starting chords of “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” erupted from the band, Valli stepped back, letting each of the Seasons sing a verse, and joining in for the choruses in a grand display of his (in the words of Ms. Swerdfeger) vocal pyrotechnics.  It made for a somewhat more serious moment, signifying Valli’s passing the torch to a new generation of talented singers, and the closing of his own career.  

A few things I take away from this concert are an appreciation for the equal passion and aptitude of non-classical performers, gratitude towards my parents for introducing to me the music they listened to as kids, and plenty of inspiration from Valli, who through personal tragedy has managed to build a career spanning over fifty years.  If only the boy bands of today could take a lesson from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons: that pop vocal ensembles shouldn’t just be vehicles to sell people merchandise.  That, like the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, and the Supremes, fame is an opportunity to provide timeless entertainment.  The influence of groups like these has been so far reaching, invariably shaping popular culture since their creation.  I think it’s high time pop acts start wearing suits again.

Toro Y Moi

Artist Review

by Cydnii Jones

Toro Y Moi is a recording artist and producer from South Carolina. His music is most closely associated with the “Chillwave” genre, including lots of house and dance music influences. I think it’s an appropriate title. His music is extremely chill and relaxing; it has modern beats, and an interesting sound. He has a melodic voice that’s just pleasant to listen to. He has three albums out, a  few remixes, singles, and features so there’s plenty of music to explore. Personally, my favorite song is “So Many Details” off of his album “Anything in Return.”

Here is his website http://toroymoi.blogspot.com.

The Jacobins

Artist Review | LaGuardia (alumni) Band

by Charlotte Force

When I was a freshman LaGuardia, I saw a photo in a Senior Art Show of a band practicing in a basement captioned “The Jacobins”. As it turned out, their guitarist was in my gym class. This LaGuardia based, class of ‘14 band is a truly class act. Their EP Everlasting Light and other works (a two-song mini-album named “Running Into Circles” and a single “Floating on a Dream”) are my mix-tape staples, and always a good listen. They came out with their first full-length album, “Made to Decay”, on March 30, 2014  (I may or may not have had it on repeat ever since?) Every song has its own character, which is (in my own experience), a rarity to find in a debut album, and the balance between the vocals and instrumental is refreshing in its fluidity.

Check out their music here: http://jacobinsmusic.bandcamp.com/



 

Phony Ppl

Artist Review

by Cydnii Jones

One of my all time favorite bands is Phony Ppl. No, that's not a typo. Phony Ppl is a collective of musicians, vocalists, and rappers from Brooklyn whose unique blend of Hip hop, R&B, and funk is not dissimilar to the Roots. On their sophomore album Phonyland (my personal favorite), it's not uncommon to hear a melodic saxophone solo or a deep, funky baseline. All members of the band are young, just getting into their twenties, but their music hints at sound that this generation hasn't heard in years. One should also look into the solo projects of their main vocalist and producer Elbee Thrie (53,000) and rapper Dyme a Duzin (A Portrait of Donnovan). I hear they've just been signed so look out for them on the mainstream circuit.

Here’s their website http://phonyland.bandcamp.com