Author: Kat Kellermeyer

This month’s Localized, on October 12th at the Urban Lounge, features two bands who push the envelope when it comes to trying something new, whether it’s mixing styles (and their own tracks) or introducing a musical movement to Salt Lake City. This month, Localized presents genre-tampering Cavedoll and neo-psychedelic The Furs.

The Furs

Bryan Mink – guitar, vocals
Rob Turner – bass
Keaton McDonald – drums
Mike Gonzales – guitar
Leif the Lucky – drums

The Furs have been ushering in the neo-psychedelic movement to the Utah scene for a year and a half now. Like a trip back in time, The Furs carry with them the sounds of the 1960s in the purest sense. For descendants of the baby boomer era, it’s just proof that history does repeat itself. The Furs just repeat it with their own style.

“Music should be made for all time,” said guitarist and vocalist Bryan Mink, “[We want to] make good music, and I don’t mean good music for a neo-psych band; I mean good music for any band. A good song should be able to hold its weight in any time period. We’ll still make music that is a little more for the eccentric listener or, of course, with obvious influences of the day. That’s just because we’re from this time period and we also can do whatever we want.”

It’s clear that the 60s have had a huge impact on the band: Mink listed Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and The Beatles as some of his influences, but isn’t willing to leave out the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s.

The Furs recently lost a founding member of the band, but were able to enlist someone new. “Naturally, it’s been a little unstable. They’ve been replaced, but it takes time to get the sound good again.” Mink did confirm that things were beginning to feel comfortable again, saying, “I don’t expect any more member changes, but I don’t really care either way. The members decide their level of involvement; if they don’t want to play I can’t do anything about it.”

The member shuffle has pushed the group’s new album from its hopeful October release into what, for now, looks like January. Discussions are already underway for a tour with local band, The Come Down. So mark your calendar for this month’s Localized at the Urban Lounge and see The Furs before they take their leave of Salt Lake City.

This month’s Localized, on October 12th at the Urban Lounge, features two bands who push the envelope when it comes to trying something new, whether it’s mixing styles (and their own tracks) or introducing a musical movement to Salt Lake City. This month, Localized presents genre-tampering Cavedoll and neo-psychedelic The Furs.

 

Cavedoll

Camden Chamberlain – one-man band

“I’m not a purist in any sense,” Chamberlain said, “I don’t discriminate against sounds. If it sounds good, it is good. I work with whatever I have available.”

Playing since age 13 and self-recording since age 19, Cavedoll is the most recent of a long list of projects Chamberlain has been involved in and easily one of the most varied. “If you listen to The Harbor you will hear me at my most consistent,” Chamberlain says, “but when all was said and done, I’ve decided that I’m happiest when I’m not overly concerned with trying to confine myself to a certain sound. Obviously I like to put my own updated spin on the style. A lot of my background is in electronica and programming, so I really enjoy fusing elements of that into [my] style.”

With backgrounds that feel akin to Depeche Mode, an array of live-recorded instruments keeps the electronica style from overwhelming the simplicity Chamberlain strives for. “The guitars are all live. Most of the bass is live. The drums are a fusion of live/programmed/sampled and the keys/synths are electronic,” he listed off. “I like to layer and combine organic and electronic/sampled elements. What I love about recording, especially with the technology we have access to today, is that anything you can imagine you can create.”

Up until this summer, Cavedoll featured a bass guitarist and drummer for live performances, but now Chamberlain is tackling the live shows on his own, which is no easy task for most musicians.

“It’s easy for me,” he said, “I only have to worry about what I’m doing. There’s no looking at the person next to you and thinking, ‘what the hell are you doing?’ Right now, this is the route that makes me the happiest. I’m completely open to adding other musicians back into the live line-up, but finding the absolutely right people is of utmost importance.”

He also stated that it was because of the member change that he incorporated a new element into his shows: what he calls a video collage. “It turns it into a whole different experience from the typical rock show. Some people really like it and others don’t; I’m fine with that. I’d rather have the focus be on the songs and the messages behind them. The videos are a great way to illustrate the general ideas behind the music.”

Chamberlain puts an updated spin on his music with a mesh of electronica, world percussion, live instruments and just about anything else he can find to add to the mix. Constantly evolving, Cavedoll is sure to put on a show that will hit your senses hard. And you never know what to expect next. “I write what I’m feeling at the time. I listen to all kinds of different music and get inspired by everything around me. It’s all subject to change, though, and undoubtedly will.”

Nightwish
Photo Courtesy of nightwish.com

11.07.07 The Marquee Theatre; Tempe, AZ

To say Nightwish put on the best show I’ve ever seen would be a gross understatement. This Finnish metal band with the majority of their US fanbase seemingly underground has made their way into the states for the first time in their 11-year career, and it’s all due to a recent member change that has left the group stronger than ever.

Tarja Turunen, the band’s lead vocalist of nine years, was dismissed late in 2005 shortly after the band completed the filming of a world tour concert for their DVD, the appropriately titled “End Of An Era.” Band composer and keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen, presented Turunen with a personal letter following the performance that has since been reposted on the studio and the band’s webpages telling the vocalist in the kindest way possible that she and her ego were not needed any longer.

“[Your] attitude,” wrote Holopainen, “was clearly shown to me in the two things you said to me in an airplane in Toronto: “I don’t need Nightwish anymore,” and “Remember, Tuomas, that I could leave this band at any time, giving you only one day’s warning in advance.” I can’t simply write any more songs for you to sing.”

The letter also reveals the band had not toured in either the US or Australia because Turunen told the band, “the [profits] and the sizes of venues are too small.”

Holopainen ended saying, “…this decision is not something we are especially proud of but you gave us no choice…we are beyond the point where things could be settled by talking.”

For over a year, the band continued to write while searching for a new vocalist, finally selecting Annette Ozlon–Swedish frontwoman for Alyson Avenue—to replace Turunen. On Sept. 28, 2007, the band’s newest album, Dark Passion Play, was finally released. An album is driven by exactly what the title would suggest. The band went straight from the studio to the road, this time pushing their new album and new vocalist to a broader audience.

One might have guessed that an album that has within the first week of its release went double-platinum in the band’s homeland of Finland would be an easy choice to top US charts, but unfortunately, it’s yet to even hit gold status in the states. But for devoted fans, the wait has paid off and the band announced it’s North American tour for 2007, this time including the US in the lineup.

Though the band didn’t schedule a Utah appearance, a handful of friends and I pulled all the spare change out from out couches, broke open our piggy banks, begged for money on the streets (not really, just from family members and gullible friends), and destroyed our credit scores to make our way to the closest show the band would be playing this year: The Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Ariz.

The Marquee Theatre is the sort of venue Turunen would have snubbed. Even the group joked at one point with the audience that it seemed “a little smaller than what we’re used to playing in.” With a capacity of 1,000, the theater sits something like a single-level, slightly-wider version of In The Venue. The stage is slightly deeper and wider, allowing the bands to take advantage of the room. Well, at least one of the bands.

Perhaps better know to the US audience, UK Gothic-Metal band, Paradise Lost, followed Nightwish on the road as their opening act. Though the group’s style was a perfect introduction to Nightwish, the performance was surprisingly luke-warm.

The group was almost sedentary, with such limited movement you wondered if they knew they were playing an actual show and not just having a practice session. The only exceptions were drummer, James Singer and lead guitarist, Greg Mackintosh. Even from behind his set, Singer went out of his way to connect with the audience while Mackintosh’s epic solos were performed with a equal amount of enthusiasm. Though the two kept the energy high throughout the act, the rest just seemed to drag despite their high-intensity tracks. Musically, the opening was fantastic, but the performance just left me underimpressed.

After a long wait–and what seemed to be a quick repair to the drum set–Nightwish walked on stage to their long-in-waiting US audience who greeted them with the same enthusiasm the band was about to give right back.

The stage set with pieces inspired by the artwork on their new album, the group spread out to allow room for the elevated drum set that occupied most of the center-back stage and Holopainen’s two-tiered keyboards with a third off to the front of stage left. All smiles and enthusiasm, the band wasted no time starting into their premiere single, Amaranth.

Those who have seen the bands performances before will recall the band’s former first-lady standing and making hand motions, not allowing herself to (like her bandmates) get swept away in the high intensity songs. Her performance seemed stiff, uncomfortable and felt more like watching a Sarah Brightman knock-off than watching a woman at the forefront of a metal group. Fortunately, the US is lucky enough to have been spared those memories.

Oslon is nothing short of amazing. Far superior to her predecessor, Oslon sang to the audience, not afraid to make eye contact and get personal. She was never without movement, walking (running, jumping, dancing) all across the stage and making sure there wasn’t a single person in the crowd not enjoying themselves. Likewise, her two mobile bandmates, guitarist Emppu Vourinen and bass/vocalist Marco Hietalan, could barely stay in once place for more than a few measures. Though Hietalan had to remain near his microphone during a few of the songs, Vourinen more than made up for it by playing for virtually every section of the crowd, tossing an (apparently) endless supply of guitar picks at the fans as he went. Even during his solos, Vourinen seemed almost casual and kept his eyes on the audience more often than he would his fingering, making sure a caught guitar pick was accompanied with a wink.

More impressive even was that even behind their respective instruments, keyboardist Holopainen and drummer Jukka Nevalainen, performed with the same intensity as the other three, refusing to be outdone. Nevalainen played with an animal intensity. Literally, this drummer was sprawled across his set, in constant movement, pounding away at two massive bass drums while looming over his set with an expression that was nothing short of wolven.

While perhaps not as wild as Nevalainen, Holopainen not only played with the intensity of his bandmates, but with a great deal more emotion. Though both Oslon and Hietalan bring an emotionally engaging quality to the songs with their voices, Holopainen plays with such emotion, one can see the personal, even spiritual, connection he has with this music. Serving also as the band’s composer/lyricist, one can see the emotional investment made in writing Dark Passion Play. While the others delivered high-energy performance, Holopainen’s is heart-wrenching and personal. Watching Tuomas Holopainen perform is watching a master at his craft.

The band played all the tracks from their newest album as well as Nemo and I Wish I Had An Angel, two of the band’s standards. Hearing Oslon’s take on these two tracks only further proves how suited she is for the group. Whereas Turunen’s voice always seemed to clash with Hietalan’s, Oslon is not afraid to get edgy and gruff, complementing the bassist’s voice far better than their former singer had.

While most bands seem to prefer to love their fans from a distance, the group wasted no time after the performance getting into the security pit in front of the stage to greet their waiting fans. The crowd continued applauding for almost 15 minutes after the group finished playing, another five after they finally left the stage. The band continued to win the hearts of their fans, finishing off with a meet-and-greet around the back of the building. If they were tired, the band didn’t show it. They were more than happy to spend time talking and joking with their fans, never rushing them through the line.

The concert began at 8 PM.

We arrived back at our hotel at 1:45 a.m. with a 9 a.m. flight looming in a few hours. Lack of sleep aside, my pocketbook was thankful. If we’d driven to Tempe, we would have followed the band straight on to New Mexico.

The band will be finishing their 2007 tour overseas, but does plan to come back to the US in the first half of 2008. Although the band has no concrete plans to make it to Salt Lake in their North American tour, they will be hitting Arizona again, and this time adding Colorado to the list.

Let it be known, I fully intend on going to see them again and I’m now accepting donations for the “Poor Students For Finnish Metal” fund. Feel free to contact me for more information on how to pay my way to Colorado.

I mean, donate.

Cavedoll
Songs That Would Not Behave (Vol. 1 & 2)
Pseudo Recording
Street: 2007
Cavedoll = The Killers + Radiohead
More of a collection of B-Sides than an album, Songs That Would Not Behave-both volumes 1 and 2-cover the genres, styles and sounds of every project Cavedoll’s solo member, Camden Chamberlain, has ever been involved in. Whether it’s revamping old, unreleased tracks, or just playing with new songs, the album ranges from techno-heavy dance/electronica to acoustic folk. It’s everything fans of the group have come to expect, but perhaps not the best choice for those unfamiliar with Cavedoll. For those who know and love the band, it’s more than worth a listen. But new-comers be advised: do your homework on this one and pick up a copy of The Harbor before going for either of these compilations.

The John Whites
Sing Their Songs
Hotel Palindrome
Street: 2007
The John Whites = Franz Ferdinand – electronics + a dash of Coldplay
There’s a simplicity and sincerity about The John Whites that speaks volumes about them. Their sound is far more mature than their ages would lead you to believe, especially on a debut. An album you can’t seem to put a definitive label on, Sing Their Songs is more akin to White Stripe’s experimental “Icky Thump” than the genre-confused groups of today. But unlike Jack White, The John Whites opt for a more traditional sound. From bluesy ballad “Still in Love,” to Franz Ferdinand-like riffs in “Song For Rory,” to Coldplay-esque piano selections, it never seems to fall less than par or sound over done. The John Whites take a hodge-podge of styles and make it all their own. Pick it up; this is the sort of album you’ll want to curl up with on a rainy day. This is the sort of album you’ll want to curl up with every day.

Larusso
Sweetest Place
Self-Released
Street: 10.05
Larusso = Plain White T’s + All American Rejects
You know that proud feeling all parents get watching their kids grow up to be successful functioning adults? That’s how long-term Larusso fans will be feeling once they get their hands on the newest release. While the band has always done well at their live shows, their previous recordings never seemed to capture them adequately. Sweetest Place, however, brings fourth a virtually professional quality, and the new tunes are better than ever. Smart and catchy, Sweetest Place is a healthy indulgence for the pop/punk craving you might be denying yourself. This album proves Larusso is finally ready to take their place among the other alternative power-houses in the valley.

The Lionelle
Oh, The Little Bee E.P.
Self Released
Street: 2007
The Lionelle = Modest Mouse + Danny Elfman
For The Lionelle, the album cover art-a seemingly random cacophany of glitter, watercolor and ink-is the perfect introduction to the group. Like a darker Modest Mouse, The Lionelle starts out of the gate with eerie chords that seem Danny Elfman inspired. Part blues and part alternative, the tunes are simple, unsettling, and absolutely brilliant. As if the music weren’t enough, the band is just as strong lyrically. Vocalist Tate McCallum-Law jumps into the performance at 110-and doesn’t let up for the whole album. Every line and word is emoted on so well that you don’t dare ignore them. This is the sort of album that won’t just let you listen to it; it will possess you. One of the best local premiers you’ll find this year.