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Bright Eyes Death Cab for Cutie Imaginary Scoop J. Mascis Live Show Review Matt & Kim On The Road Robyn Sharon van Etten Wye Oak

Photoessay: opening day(s) of Sasquatch! at the Gorge, part II

{This is part two of our opening day coverage of this year's Sasquatch! music festival at the Gorge — click here to take a peek at part one!}

Our first full day at Sasquatch! kept rolling strong, with a big-guitar kick-ass set from Sharon van Etten, which shifted flawlessly over to an intimate solo performance from J. Mascis on the Yeti stage. The noise kept coming with the simultaneously loud/pretty sounds of Wye Oak, after which we changed gears to take on the upbeat, alt.indie.powerpop-ish party of Matt & Kim — what a blast! The fading sun brought a powerful, dusky mainstage set from Bright Eyes, and we welcomed the night with an impressive (albeit late) performance from Robyn on the Bigfoot stage.

Closing out the night with a local flourish, hometown faves Death Cab for Cutie took us out well into the dark with a killer mainstage performance that spanned an impressive portion of their current and back catalog. Photos below!

Sharon van Etten:

{Sharon Van Etten / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

J. Mascis:

{J. Mascis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{J. Mascis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{J. Mascis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Wye Oak:

{Wye Oak / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Wye Oak / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Matt and Kim:

{Matt and Kim / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Matt and Kim / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Matt and Kim / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Our friendly press area security guard, Bobby:

{Bobby / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Bright Eyes:

{Bright Eyes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Bright Eyes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Bright Eyes fans / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Robyn:

{Robyn / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Robyn / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Death Cab for Cutie:

{Death Cab for Cutie / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Death Cab for Cutie / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

The rest of our opening day shots are in part one of this post here. Check out more photos from our day one road trip, along with days two, three and four in the imaginary flickr pool!

Categories
Cherry Tree Record Review Robyn

Body Talk

OMG! Yes, I freaking love Robin Miriam Carlsson, and have since her first eponymous release (as, um, Robyn) in the States and the 2007 sampler of her Swedish hits, bulleted up in the charts “With Every Heartbeat.” I left this album, Body Talk, a collection of two separate releases earlier in the year, off my TIG 2010 favorites list because I hadn’t had this super consumer-friendly marriage of both albums yet. Now that all the songs are together, and each one is a chrome-wrapped chocolate-covered hit of dance-demanding bliss, I have to hype it here.

In the surreal stew of pop-art and art-pop, we kids in the Madonna generation used to wonder if rumors that The Clash and Elvis Costello really loved ABBA as much as they claimed were true. Eventually, a gal born in 1979 is likely to come along in the mid-90s and start writing songs as smartly narrative, anthemic, sarcastic but sweet, visceral and science fictional, and cool-quirky as a perfect combination of post-punk and lushly-created chart pop might be.

Lyrically, though everything here is insanely catchy and reasonably slick, Robyn should not be taken lightly — “In My Eyes” is an awesome message of grace in an up-and-down relationship, as adorable as her nurturing a bad-ass boy hobo in her previous “Bum Like You.” “We Dance To The Beat” and “Don’t F***ing Tell Me What To Do” are cyberpunk story songs done in minimalist list form, a favorite trick of Robyn’s (there are times that her lyrics seem like a combination of Bob Dylan’s personal-political protest with Laurie Anderson’s conceptual skills for placing you attention-ahead square in the receiving end of what she’s saying).

There are so many funny lines in a prime Robyn song I wouldn’t know where to begin to quote. Might as well just type out all of “U Should Know Better,” her absolutely tummy-tickling rap-duet with Snoop Dogg. Royksopp joins in as well on the less hilarious but still very clever “None Of Dem,” too. Robyn sings about her love for losers with charm, her hatred of players with smarm, her joys of drinking cheap wine on lazy days with arty, slightly thuggy friends on the verge of eviction. Cops aren’t her friends, it seems, even if she’s cute and can scam some money to look legit. That’s saying something in these days when everything’s moving black market and a police state may be just around the corner in post-Bush world.

But back to the music: “Indestructible” is absolutely gorgeous, its vulnerability vibrant beneath the sweep and swoon of its beautiful arrangement. Even less mind-blowing, but still realistic odes to romantic unity like “Love Kills” and “Hang With Me” are constructed as perfect electro-pop confections for Robyn’s ardent confessions. I would love to see her stretch out beyond the keyboards a bit, but those are probably less damaged by sweat and body heat than acoustic guitars and strings when she performs all this live like a fiery dynamo.

The great thing is, even if you never see her burn up a stage, her music takes the hipness of Ciccone Youth and brings out the total diva in it. Who would have thought, in 2011, that we’d have such a fierce combination of goodness (lots of heart), greatness (powerful music), and goddess (*sigh*)?

I <3 Robyn, sure as shit.

Categories
Cherrytree Record Review Robyn

Robyn

I know it sounds crazy, but Robyn just may be the Sam Cooke of our generation. They call her the "Anti-Britney" but that just seems another way to put a fading star down; a better contrast would be how Alanis Morrissette or Tori Amos evolved from bubblegum puppets to what we know them as. Only with Robyn, the music is a bit less mainstream in the result.

The cute-tough white-haired sprite's songs are confidently soulful, and it all sounds effortlessly true to Robyn herself, who doesn't hesitate to let you know who she is (or who she wants you to think she is, I guess). She comes off as if telling anyone who wants to push her around to Piss Off. An electric awareness of self-image similar to Beth Ditto's is implied, and if it's not real, at least that perception has become something valuable for women to declare ("I'm only sexy when I say it's OK" in "Who's That Girl" — no, it's not a cover). This of course means record labels, producers, and anyone trying to keep a tough young lady down. Which, in fact, has apparently happened plenty. Aesthetically, her focused self-determination seems a little overbearing, until the charisma of her voice and the sly charm of her lyrics combine with the catchy keyboard-and-drum machine music to curb-kick down your resistance. Or mine, anyways.

Robyn's been working it since 1995 (which, from the photos of her slightly androgynous, very tight, white-haired image, must mean she was a child prodigy), perennially releasing songs in her native Sweden (and spreading like the bruise of a vampire kiss throughout Europe). And yet this fourteen-track full-length sounds as sparkling green as any of the best pop debuts of the past thirty years.

As such electronically-dominated hip-hop soaked tracks like "Konichiwa Bitches" and "Cobra Style" and the 80s-style lush anthems "With Every Heartbeat" (another non-cover) and "Be Mine" (etc.) sear their melodies into your brainpan, you might be thinking this whole thing was world dominance by music biz committee. But no, it's just Robyn, storing up more wonderful hooks and images each time some label hack told her "no," I imagine. Thus her bursting onto the scene at SXSW this year — and now the buzz-foam this album comes floating in on. It's as fun, smart, and sizzling as the hotly debated work of other recent femme fatale songwriter-performers, but what's even better is that it seems like Robyn is keeping her shit together long enough to enjoy such success. There's a song called "Crash and Burn" here, and it's definitely a taunt to competitors than evokes a possible self-fulfilling prophecy.

I have to admit, about two-thirds of the way into "Robyn" I sort of lose focus as the retro-pop songs pile up, but maybe it's because the first half is so damned good. (And who knows, maybe you'd rather hear her sing than rap.) At least half a brilliant album (especially a debut) is tons better than most artists can accomplish these days.