Julien Baker’s beautiful aww-shucks guitar strumming, especially here on Sprained Ankle’s “Rejoice,” is the ultimate siren song. She lures you in with clean, haunting sounds that demurely chug along until she takes a deep breath and then all of a sudden sings with a power and a clarity that’s completely awe inducing. The strength of her voice, especially like when she unleashes it around the 2:00 mark, leaves those in attendance planted firmly to the ground and silences bar chatter in the back. You can’t help but look upon the performer before you and understand that in 2016 you’re seeing a rare caliber of artist, and you don’t dare look away for fear that you’ll miss something.
Filmed by Sheridan Gibson / Nicole Conflenti
Edited by Doug Fellegy
Recorded and mixed by Jeff DuPont
Animated title cards by BrainTwins ( www.braintwins.net )
Earlier this year local duo Lily & Madeleine took a break from touring behind their newest record, Keep It Together, and graced LUNA music with a stripped down instore performance. The Jurkiewicz sisters packed the storefront with as many friends and fans as could fit inside and treated them to intimate versions of a handful of new songs, including “Small Talk” and “Nothing,” the two closing tracks off of their latest album.
The shuffling guitar and piano of “Small Talk” provide a glasslike canvas that let the vocals on the song shimmer through, showcasing the understated beauty of Lily & Madeleine’s marvelous harmonies. On “Nothing,” though, a melancholy piano line is the only accompaniment to the sisters’ stark and haunting voices. The band deals with themes like heartbreak, self-reliance, and others commonly found throughout modern music, but it’s the honesty and arrestingly beautiful voices that Lily & Madeleine craft their songs with that make them stand out. Be sure to catch them on the rest of their North American tour from now through October.
Filmed by Doug Fellegy / Sheridan Gibson / Nicole Conflenti
Edited by Doug Fellegy
Colored by Nicole Conflenti
Recorded and mixed by Jeff DuPont
In honor, or memoriam, of the sad news that long-time MOKB favorites, Those Darlins, announced that they will be going on “indefinite hiatus” after their January 2016 tour dates, we figured it would be a good time to revisit our session with the band.
The then-foursome performed “The Whole Damn Thing“, “Red Light Love“, “Cannonball Blues“, and “Mr. Money” for us, in the rear amphitheater at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It was our first and only session at the museum, and there was something fun about the juxtaposition of this fine art location and the band’s rough-around-the-edges, whiskey-soaked, southern-fried pop-punk vibe.
They also taught me the hilarious and disgusting band handshake at this session, which I only wish we would have caught on camera. It consisted of shaking hands, sliding your hand then up the inside of the arm of the other, into their hairy, sweaty armpit, reinterlocking arms and sliding your sweat-covered index and middle finger then under the nose of your shake partner. Pretty gross, totally awesome.
One of the great joys of this “job” has always been recording with the bands we write about. Our mostly-now-defunct Laundromatinee.com project was generally so full of challenges that it eventually made us much smarter, more creative, better, and more patient human beings. Each and every session was faced with some problem, be it punctuality, technology, emotional, interpersonal, or financial. We had to be nimble. It forced us to be innovative, to experiment, to adapt. In the end, we created hundreds of amazing session videos with hundreds of amazing bands. I feel lucky to have had the experience of making these videos with Jeff, Doug, Tim, Daniel, Derek and Christina, and the many others who contributed. I feel lucky to have these videos and recordings in my personal library. It would be a shame, in my mind, to just let them sit out there in the internet ether. So, I’ve decided to start a reoccurring series revisiting these sessions. I hope you enjoy.
Solo albums can be a funny thing. Often times a lead singer who strikes out on his or her own can be desperate to fashion a new identity and reclaim their voice as an artist. This new identity can feel so far removed from their old band, maybe a hypothetical band that you loved dearly, that you question whether you can support this singer’s new quest for independence or whether you need to bury your head in a stack of old LPs and remember the good times. Hamilton Leithauser, the former frontman of a band that I happen to be enamored with, stands in direct opposition to this artistic pitfall: his new album doesn’t just showcase the raspy, smoke-filled croon I’ve come to love, it shows the development of an artist that I’ll happily continue to follow.
Leithauser stopped by LUNA music back in September during the Indianapolis leg of his tour with Spoon to perform some stripped down versions of songs from his new album, Black Hours, for our Laundromatinee.com project. Jumping between the seam-bursting energy of “Alexandra” and the sweetly melancholy “11 O’clock Friday Night,” Leithauser played to a tightly packed, intimate group at the shop as if in front of an audience at a sold out club. After the final song the crowd pushed forward to talk with Leithauser, who graciously shook hands with each member of the crowd who waited for him. This kind of enthusiasm and kindness bodes well for the new identity Leithauser is forming, and the size of the crowd makes me think he’ll have quite a sizable following throughout this new stage in his career.
Filmed by: Doug Fellegy / Erin Browne / Katherine Martin
Edited by: Doug Fellegy
Recorded and Mixed by: Jeff DuPont
Before even hearing a lick of his music, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to single out Tim Showalter as some sort of rock and roll warrior just by looking at him (as self-described on “Heal”): long black hair and beard, black jeans, black boots, smoking a cigarette with headphones on. In conversation and in person, Showalter is as humble, excitable, and cordial as you could hope to find in a kindred music-obsessed spirit. All of these facets of him ring out like relentless clarion calls all over Strand of Oaks’ masterful, anguished, and absolutely triumphant 2014 album, Heal. Not only was Heal both my favorite and most-listened-to record of the past year, it also fueled me with all the firepower and guts I needed to chase my own breakthroughs on the other side of lingering heartache.
Watching Strand of Oaks play these songs live, as they did with sweat-soaked zeal and hearts wide open at Russian Recording in Bloomington later the night of this session in August and, more recently, to a packed house at this same Hi-Fi in Indianapolis in January, is akin to getting swept away in a force of nature with the power to restore than destroy. Each show was an obviously special homecoming for the Philadelphia-based native Hoosier (see: “Goshen ‘97” and the opening line of “JM” for Indiana shout-outs). When he sings, “You gotta heal,” at the climax of the title track, it serves as both a command to himself and a generous plea to the listener no matter the cause of the individual wounds. It’s that same redemptive spirit that allows “Shut In” to break free and soar like it’s chasing the horizon down some hopeful thunder road. Some truly hard knocks hit Showalter during the writing and recording of these songs, and those brutal blows inform every second you hear upon dropping the needle in the grooves of Heal’s wax or simply pushing play. Fortunately, by making these very songs in all their guitar-frenzy, deeply scarred, and music-worshipping glory, Showalter paints us all up like warriors, too, and reminds us yet again that we were born to run.
Filmed & Edited by Doug Fellegy / Nicole Conflenti Recorded & Mixed by Jeff DuPont Written by Justin Wesley
Art can have a online permanence yet lack a tangible presence. These videos can be seen as a fleeting collection of pixels arranged as an imitation of art; an experience saved as a convenience, to be received at a more appropriately scheduled time. But the joy in some art lies in the immediacy, in the here and now. This is where live music finds it’s enduring sense of strength: part of the beauty of this art form lies in the ephemeral experience of simply being there.
These videos of Daughter’s intimate performance at Luna Music attempt to capture those moments as best we can. We got footage of the sunlight glinting off of their shimmering guitars and recordings of the ghastly purity of their voices, but that pales in comparison to what we saw and heard first-hand. They played with such effortless vibrancy and color it was like they’d forgotten about relentlessly touring a handful of EPs, covers, and a full-length record on their own before carrying onward as the supporting act for a tour with The National. And after all of that, they can still play “Youth” at a record store in Indianapolis so arrestingly that no one dares to speak or look away until the final chord fades out. I can’t remember another show I’ve been to in the past few years where I’ve experienced that.
Filmed and edited by Doug Fellegy / Erin Browne / Haley O’Brian
Recorded and Mixed by Jeff DuPont
Written by Doug Fellegy