BAIO – Brainwash yyrr Face

BAIO takes a refreshing step away from his Columbia-college band roots with the certainly individual, but not definably indie, new electro-chill single. 

Ahead of upcoming solo album ‘The Names’ Chris Baio, bassist of indie-prep band Vampire Weekend, has released the opening track ‘Brainwash yyrr Face’. Make no mistake, this track is not a Vampire Weekend rip-off – far from it. Nowhere in his new album (I imagine) will one find screeching vocals and summer guitar riffs. Instead, subdued bass electronic tracks which shuffle and dance around your headphones are what characterise Chris Baio’s, aka ‘BAIO’, solo music. He shows himself as a competent and interesting DJ; flavourful and yet subtle. The track is a process. It starts very minimal, with a simple keyboard-type beat, then begins to loop and repeat, suddenly soft vocals creep in and it begins to take form. By the chorus, samples are being tossed into the mix and new layers emerge. Things get interesting. It takes a little while to get going but I’d like to think that is on purpose as the minimalism begins to repeat itself when the heavy beat is introduced. It shows a slow building up, layering, a journey. That is what I take from the single anyway.

His track ‘On&On&On&On’ released in September 2014 was also featured on this blog and I thoroughly enjoyed that single. This one, if possible, surpasses it and allows a slightly edgier sound to be sought out by the expert looping and reversed bass lines. This may not be what one expects from an indie band member, but it’s well worth a listen, and I certainly will be pre-ordering the album. It is chilled mellow track, with a likeness to Garden City Movement, Phoria, MK, and James Blake.

Listen Here

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This Isn’t What We Expected from The Vaccines

What did we expect from The Vaccines? Probably not this crazy new sound – but we are loving it. The indie-pop band recently released their new single, a UK tour and a multitude of festivals dates. ‘Handsome’ has the familiar pop rock melodies of ‘Norgaard’ and the ironic teenage angst filled lyrics of ‘No Hope’ but it also is a breath of fresh air for the band. Justin has said that he wants the song to sound bad in 10 years, and have it define a generation of music – a bold claim for this self proclaimed pop band. I don’t think pop necessarily has to sound bad in 10 years, it just needs to be so familiar that you know it like it the back of your hand and the tune is so lodged in your brain that it’s pretty impossible to remove it once it gets stuck there.

Since ‘Handsome’, the band have given us a taste of the album with other singles like ‘Dream Lover’ and ’20/20′ (seen live 3rd April 2015). ‘Dream Lover’ is dripping with heavy, electronic riffs and is a spaced out, crazy single. 20/20 is upbeat, guitar-shredding, Vampire Weekend-inspired enjoyment, similar to their older stuff – it’s my favourite so far. However, it does have a close competitor in the form of ‘Minimal Affection’. I must admit when I first heard the opening notes of MA I wasn’t convinced – it wasn’t really up my street, or so I thought. On a second, and then third, and then fourth listen (all back to back you understand) – I was sold. It’s funky, it’s catchy – it’s like The Strokes, Chromeo and early Vaccines B-sides in one big, beautiful melting pot. Solid, groovy tunes and ambiguous lyrics are looking more and more likely to characterise the new album.

The Stigma in Devising Theatre

Originally written for Noises Off

There is a pressure to be ‘edgy’ with devised theatre which results in a need to inject intensely dark, psychotic themes at the end. This pressure causes a stigma amongst some theatregoers, who assume that student devised theatre might as well be a place to throw in all the ideas you’ve ever had into one big cauldron of crazy. You make people laugh with some cheesy puns, introduce some super-speedy character development and then drastically turn the tables to reveal the stew infested with stereotypically insane connotations.

Fete juxtaposed a quintessentially British summer day with the inside of a mentally unstable man’s mind; classic A-Level devising. This world is all too familiar to the sixth formers sitting in that audience – just last year I created a GCSE devised piece which gave me unadulterated freedom to completely let rip. We created a children’s-party-turned-porno-turned-cult piece which was unbelievably fun to play with and exploit, but it wasn’t some of the best theatre in the country by any stretch of the imagination. Fete was a piece which blew people’s minds at this festival and was lapped up by a lot of distinguished theatre people such as yourselves, but from a student’s perspective it wasn’t anything drastically different from what we usually see and experience every year.

As they discussed, there was a problem in having to adhere to a mark scheme, but that wasn’t an excuse for some definite sloppiness. And it was in this discussion that I noticed the surprisingly shallow level to which these performers had delved into their work; they explained that they were exploring any and all mental illnesses and were not consciously thinking about the different ways an audience would read their play. It was at that moment that the all too familiar echo of devising theatre with a dark twist for the sake of aesthetic dawned on me. Inherently, this kind of performance is where that stigma surrounding students’ devising stems from.

There is no question that Fete had its merits, but never have I experienced something as immersive, hyper and enjoyable as The Nutcracker. From the detail in (UVA) set designs to the intensely engaging actors who fully embodied each character they played, The Nutcracker cast an unforgettable spell on its entranced audience. So overwhelming was this piece of immersive theatre that I forgot for the evening that it wasn’t Christmas and I felt transported into the intricate dreamscape of Billy. Every figment of imagination personified in the tree, cowboy, robot and ballerina beamed with life and a total joy which was infectious.

The Nutcracker is a wonderful and beautiful exception to the aforementioned rule. ‘Original’ and ‘unique’ are not credit high enough to applaud the skill that went into the structure and logistics of such a piece.  When comparingFete and The Nutcracker one is struck by their similarity in attempting to introduce the audience into a different world – the extent to which The Nutcracker reached into the livelihood of the story has been unmatched so far at NSDF. I wanted to see a company do something new and exceptional and crazy – that’s what The Nutcracker delivered. Fete, on the other hand, left something to be desired and it perpetuated the stigma attached to devising which labels it as amateur.

Read more of my theatre critique here

Toxic Age

Endless scrolling through meaningless anecdotes, in this so called toxic age
Isn’t that what you always did; flicking through the pages?
Disquieted by the stench of our generation I doubt anyone feels as I do
That the ignorance radiating from your skull only feeds my
Expanding sense of entitlement.

The creations of our generation litter the streets in turrets as high as the glass ceiling
We all so desperately want to smash through
Fertility and credibility and responsibility climbing my
Spine using claws shaped like knives.
The cliches ricochet over gutters filled with
Glutters that distort and abort a clinical age.

Power lines and telephone wires pile over the dead bodies
Of birds and rats stinking and cluttering up the atmosphere
That hangs over the drive-through down the road emanating
A mixture of carbon dioxide and bubbling burning fat…

Maybe we’re lucky to be received on the other side of the screen but what’s
The point of artificial contact if not be touched by flesh that has hurt
And cried and writhed under a terribly hot sun?

A toxic age frowned upon by a barrage of superiority complexes who smirk
That of course we didn’t have that so of course we are wonderfully pure.
What is the point of being pure if the holy water leaves you
Ignorant and poor.

 

January Blues

  1. fracture – bombay bicycle club
  2. sophia – laura marling
  3. is there somebody who can watch over you – the 1975
  4. re stacks – bon iver
  5. glass in the park – alex turner
  6. i think ur a contra – vampire weekend
  7. eyes off you – bombay bicycle club
  8. cigarette daydreams – cage the elephant
  9. its cool, we can still be friends – bright eyes
  10. broad ripple is burning – margot and the nuclear so and so’s
  11. aren’t you someone’s something – frankie cosmos
  12. rapt – karen o
  13. papa hobo – ezra koenig cover
  14. mad sounds/family friend cover
  15. hand made – alt j
  16. songbird – eva cassidy