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Alas, it is possible to truly fall for an album after hearing the first track; it sets the tone for the rest of the album. As is the case with Under the Influence, it seemed to be a bold and smart move to begin with powerhouse vocalist Julia Easterlin. Her cover of The Pixies song, Break My Body reaches a whole other level of beauty. For me, tears seemed to come from nowhere. Confused, I wondered if I was feeling sad about the song, only to realize that I was having one of those moments. Sometimes when certain notes are heard in perfect harmony, it quite literally strikes a chord within. Thus, tears.

The album depicts a vast range of talents, featuring students of Berklee and alum covering big name rockers like The Pixies, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead. As I listened to the rest of the album, I found myself relatively surprised by the extreme difference in tracks. Since the musicians seemed to be given a great deal of artistic liberty, each of the covers held a unique flavor with an edge. As previously mentioned, Easterlin’s vocals set a pleasant tone which is followed by the funk of R.A.Y, fairly paired with Red Hot Chili Peppers. While it’s pretty rare that I fall in love with every single track on an album, I have to say that this album deserves a lot of credit.

I say this because even though I write for Campusounds and constantly encounter gifted young musicians, I tend to forget how much talent is out there. For me, it’s comforting to know that the musicians of Berklee featured on this record, represent a vast majority of talented up and coming musicians. Hard-working, impressive and improvisational, if this is the future of music in our country than I am truly proud and excited to experience the movement.

Lucky for you, Under the Influence can be streamed online here: http://heavyrotationrecords.bandcamp.com/

This album features: Julia Easterlin, R.A.Y., Boston Boys feat. Emily Elbert, Berklee String Metal Ensemble, David Pramik, and Pinn Panelle.

For the common concert-goer, the experience that one has in the presence of great music is often times exponentially different from just any other concert. There are specific elements that come into play during a phenomenal concert, that are not present at just any show. The success of a concert has a lot to do with atmosphere and emotions. We often times associate a good concert with performers who sound better live than on their recording. When this happens, the concert goer is forced to feel something totally different, where the music is no longer just emotive, but experiential.

[Photo by Zak Mo]

But what happens when Campusounds’ favorites, Moon Hooch, put on a concert? Well it’s interesting, because this is a band that’s gotten recognition not only for their ability to make the public happy, but because of their live act. They’re not a studio band. The Moon Hooch experience is really about their concert experience.

So what is that concert experience like? I’ve seen the two saxophones and drummer trio quite a few times, and I believe that each time is totally different. Their most recent concert was at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, and I walked away feeling like that was their best show. Although, that is something we say often times more than not, there was just the right amount of emotion and happy atmosphere to make this one stand out more than the rest.

For one, it was a little more organized. Yes, it was still a raucous riot indoors when the music started playing, but to me, that’s the best part. I mean, it was organized from the beginning. I didn’t have to push through dozens of people just to enter the venue, as was the case at their last concert in January. The absence of this disorganization made for a much more positive atmosphere upon entrance, because people weren’t pushing and shoving to get in.

Maybe it was just the right combination of everything that made this concert so different from the rest. Moon Hooch opened with a crowd pleasing favorite, one of their more known songs. From the very beginning, people were dancing, but not everyone. This is one of the incredible things about their shows, peoples ability to make each other dance. Maybe it’s because when I looked out at the crowd, I wasn’t the only one foolishly dancing with a huge grin on my face. As if smiles aren’t easy enough to transfer from person to person, the power of movement truly plays a role like no other.

Slowly but surely, the floor gets slippery-er and grimier, but this only adds to the danceability. As if Moon Hooch themselves knew this, their tunes as the night progressed became more and more dubstep-centric. They did this by inserting a large cardboard tube into one of the saxophones, and elongating the notes in a quicker tempo.

Towards the end of their second set, they asked members of the audience to come up and dance on stage. This was largely successful in getting people moving even more than they had been before. There was only one downside that I was an unfortunate witness to, which was when one man felt confident that the members of the crowd would catch him when he attempted to crowd surf. This ended in mostly a failure, though I’m pretty sure there was at least one person present who was able to break his fall.

Thus, the Moon Hooch experience can probably be summarized as a purposeful dance party. The title of “concert” is only a title, in that the whole performance is placed within the confines of a music venue. It’s a space of positive vibes and happy people, and that’s probably what sets the Moon Hooch experience apart from the rest.

For one, it was a little more organized. Yes, it was still a raucous riot indoors when the music started playing, but to me, that’s the best part. I mean, it was organized from the beginning. I didn’t have to push through dozens of people just to enter the venue, as was the case at their last concert in January. The absence of this disorganization made for a much more positive atmosphere upon entrance, because people weren’t pushing and shoving to get in.

Maybe it was just the right combination of everything that made this concert so different from the rest. Moon Hooch opened with a crowd pleasing favorite, one of their more known songs. From the very beginning, people were dancing, but not everyone. This is one of the incredible things about their shows, peoples ability to make each other dance. Maybe it’s because when I looked out at the crowd, I wasn’t the only one foolishly dancing with a huge grin on my face. As if smiles aren’t easy enough to transfer from person to person, the power of movement truly plays a role like no other.

Slowly but surely, the floor gets slippery-er and grimier, but this only adds to the danceability. As if Moon Hooch themselves knew this, their tunes as the night progressed became more and more dubstep-centric. They did this by inserting a large cardboard tube into one of the saxophones, and elongating the notes in a quicker tempo.

Towards the end of their second set, they asked members of the audience to come up and dance on stage. This was largely successful in getting people moving even more than they had been before. There was only one downside that I was an unfortunate witness to, which was when one man felt confident that the members of the crowd would catch him when he attempted to crowd surf. This ended in mostly a failure, though I’m pretty sure there was at least one person present who was able to break his fall.

Thus, the Moon Hooch experience can probably be summarized as a purposeful dance party. The title of “concert” is only a title, in that the whole performance is placed within the confines of a music venue. It’s a space of positive vibes and happy people, and that’s probably what sets the Moon Hooch experience apart from the rest.

Fascination has a lot to do with the bands that I find and choose to write about. It was fascination that led me to want to learn more about a band called Young Cornelius. After seeing them perform at The Knitting Factory on one steamy night in the late summer/early Fall, I knew that they embraced exactly what it is that we love so much about our Campusounds musicians.

On stage, Young Cornelius is comprised of Cornelius McMoyler, Stanton Bhola, Anthony Freda, and Oscar Rodriguez. Seeing them live before hearing any of their music available online was honestly the best way to see them. Many bands these days are really about the experience, as well as the music. Young Cornelius embraces that exact notion, seeing as their music is both a physical and audio-visual experience. There isn’t anything particularly special about the way they perform, but their true colors seem to show most when they are on stage.

“My favorite part of this band is the element of improvisation that we incorporate while playing…Our improvisations jams are no different than Cornelius, Stanton, Oscar, and myself hanging out and coversing,” Anthony Freda said.

Perhaps that is what makes a band capable of showing their true colors. The ability to let go entirely and converse on stage, without words, but with sounds, is something that a lot of musicians forget. However, I find that it is a quality that many newer musicians, specifically younger, remember. The saying, “It’s all about the music,” could not be truer for Young Cornelius.

It wasn’t a surprise to hear that some of their biggest influences included the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince, Jeff Buckley, and then some more ’70s oriented musical acts. Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Elton John, Randy Newman all contribute to their beautiful sound. Flea and Victor Wooten are among the virtuoso bass players that Stanton Bhola, the band’s bassist, looks to for influence. He managed to nail the slap/in-the-pocket style perfectly, which took me by surprise, because of how overpowering that style can be if the band doesn’t counter it perfectly.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that really fascinated me about this band was their ability to converse on stage. That idea really comes through in their live performance, but also, in speaking to the band members themselves. Their ability to thrive in a collegiate atmosphere is really something to be envious of.

“I believe that school encourages band activity. It breathes new inspiration into my writing and occupies each of us enough so when we get toghether, we have energy and enthusiasm for what we’re doing — it’s not routine or overdone,” Cornelius McMoyler said.

The members of Young Cornelius are students at NYU with the exception of Rodriguez and McMoyler, who attend the New School for Jazz and CUNY City College, respectively.

As for 2012, the band seems ready to learn more and work even harder. They’re hoping to expand their live experience to more popular venues like Sullivan Hall, Bowery Electric, and other bigger name venues in Manhattan.

For more, check out Young Cornelius on Facebook, Soundcloud and BandCamp.


Who they are: A British “folktronic” band that lasted from 1996 to 2004.

How they started: Met at St. Andrews University, formed around guitarist Steve Mason and Gordon Anderson

While I’m perfectly aware that The Beta Band is in fact a dated, older band that no longer pertains to modern day musical discoveries, I was fascinated by the genre of “folktronic” which led me to explore that concept further. 

The Beta Band happened upon my ears in a tiny furniture shop in Williamsburg on a day that beckoned rain but appeared to be sunny. As the deejay on the radio came on to talk about the previous song and began to introduce the Beta Band, I had been distracted by a large box of photographs. As soon as the song started to play, I slowly began to move my head and tap my foot. It’s pretty easy to know when music moves me, because I show it almost always, even when (or especially) when I’m alone.

I looked up to see the store owner smiling and reading a magazine, so I asked her if she caught the name of the band.

“Yeah, the Beta Band. I was actually really hoping the deejay would play this song…” The name of the song was Dry the Rain.

I nerdily whipped out my phone and wrote it down so I could go home and explore. After all, that is all I do. While most people get distracted by Facebook or wikipedia, I spend my time searching and finding music that somehow moves me. And that was exactly what I found when I started to look into The Beta Band’s music.

I think it’s really important for us to listen to music that may not necessarily be current, because it’s always relevant. It affects the way we react and interact with music.

In my exploration of the genre, I found a couple of other artists that embrace this same idea of folk-electronic music. I discovered that a couple of artists we know and appreciate today, are considered to be major folktronic acts. Imogen Heap, Empire of the Sun, Yann Tiersen, Sufjan Stevens and Four Tet.

-ASHLEY HEFNAWY

Check out The Beta Band’s Video for: Being Human

The setting is Rockwood Music Hall, on a calm summer evening. Talia Billig and the Canadiens have already begun their set. Led by the ravishing curly haired unmistakable vocal force that is Talia, the band has a mellow jazzy soulful sound, which I immediately take to liking. Pretty soon, my toe is tapping and judging by the visual head-bobbing response from the rest of the audience, everyone is enjoying the blissful tunes that have entered the small dimly lit room at Rockwood.

Photo by Shervin Lainez Photography

The band is a small compilation of talented musicians, all of which attended the New School for Contemporary Jazz. To summarize them would be silly, because you can just read about them on their website, found here.

So what I’m going to do instead, is talk about them for just a little. Talk about their sound, their funk, their swag if you will. These are things you cannot really find on their website. After having had the chance to meet Talia in my Freshman year, I’d known she was a musician, but it took me nearly a year and a half to finally hear any of her music. When I finally got around to it this summer, I was so happy. I have to admit that it’s a major musical turn on, to see a chick lead a band of dudes. Not only lead, but lead well. The chemistry and dynamic between all of the band members is really beautiful to watch as an audience member. It sends a great vibe out to everyone who is listening and watching, and it makes you feel at ease to know that the band is not only playing music, but feeling off of one another to produce the ultimate sound.

Which brings me to the next point: sound. Think of Regina Spektor, (yeah, I know, totally huge and unmistakable and perhaps even incomparable but hear me out!) with a slightly jazzier, less poppy sound. It’s mellow and cool, but not boring at all. They’re also versatile and totally (at least seemingly) willing to experiment with new sounds. One of the highlights of their set was their cover of Destiny’s Child “Independent Woman” where they incorporated clapping and full-band harmonies. It was a beautiful and totally funky sight.

As incentive to check out their music, and not to give too much away, check out the music video for Destiny Child’s “Independent Woman” below. If anything it will remind you of how much you loved the song when you were a kid, (like me) or if it’s your first time hearing the song, perhaps you’ll find a new love for it. Hopefully you’ll have the chance within the next couple of months to check out Talia Billig and the Canadiens, because alas, they are in the process of recording an album and with that comes lovely performances!

Be sure to check out the Talia Billig Band at Rockwood this Sunday, September 18th. Also, don’t forget to support Talia on Kickstarter!

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