26 March 2011

art/official presents: Big History


For New Orleans, Big History is big. They take elements from some of today’s most prominent bands, but they do it in a way that is uniquely their own. Comparisons to The XX and Beach House are accurate, but not encompassing. Within Big History is manifested a fantastic medium between old New Orleans soul and contemporary indie power. They are great people who write great songs in a great city.

Those of us at art/official have seen Big History live more times than we can count, and it still hasn't gotten old. With each show the band's sound has gotten tighter and more polished. New tracks interlaced with "classics" keep the dance floor moving the entire time. The energy stays at a ten while the electronic dance beats mix with live music and the airiness of Meg Roussel's voice. The front of the crowd is the place to be at these shows, and you'll probably see us up there with you.

Below, check out the video premiere of their hit “All At Once" (is Meg a fox or what?!):

Big History- All At Once from Bret Bohnet on Vimeo.

One warm Louisiana winter night a few months ago the guys and girls from Big History invited us out to their practice space to enjoy some music and conversation. We had the privilege of asking the band a few questions:

How did y'all originally get together?
Matt: Well, Corey and I played together during high school, and most of us have been acquainted with each other for a while because of other bands we have been in. Bret and I played with Silent Cinema for a while, and Corey and Blandon played in Antenna Inn. Meg was doing solo folk stuff in the city and when I heard her sing, I knew we had to have her. Bret had always wanted to incorporate digital sounds and acoustic drums in a way that worked well together and put together this interesting drum kit for this band. So, we are able to recreate the synthetic sounds live while still hanging on to an organic feel as well.

Tell us a little about your sound and how you ended up settling where you are now.
Big History: We originally kind of wanted to do folk rock stuff, but eventually everything got to be more and more digital. Now we do a lot of recording as we go, picking synthetic sounds to add more depth and layers. Matt and Blandon do most of the writing, but everyone helps out. We even play a song that Meg wrote 100% by herself.

A lot of people in the city have dubbed you guys as a dream pop group. Is that a genre you guys would claim for yourself, and if not, what is?
Big History: I think we all agree that dream pop is a genre we are capable of living up to. We have gotten a lot of Beach House comparisons and several of our synthetic beats were heavily influenced by the XX, so dream pop makes sense.


How about your guys' favorite new bands?
Matt: I really like King Rey.
Amanda: Caddywhompus.
Bret: Curren$y!!
Matt: Animal Collective. Everything they do is so inventive. It’s way more ahead of their time than any other band, ever. Beyond that, we’re all really big fans of the Arcade Fire and Beach House. And I love 80’s music.

Besides all the local shows you guys have booked, what are your other plans? Is there a tour in store for Big History, and what are your other future plans?
Big History: We’re going to start small. We've finished recording our EP and we will have that ready to release by this summer. As far as a tour goes, we’ll probably start going out just for the weekend and coming back. We’ll start small with regional tours and work up to larger national tours.


For those of you who haven't already heard of Big History, be ashamed of yourself. This bio offers a bite-sized introduction for those of you who have yet to hear of them:
The New Orleans rock scene is downright incestuous and Big History is no exception. When Matt Glynn and Blandon Helgason set out to form a new project, the two came to the conclusion that the nature of the New Orleans scene works like a puzzle, each musician a puzzle piece shuffled about until they fit.
The two set out to find the perfect pieces for their puzzle. They enlisted Bret Bohnet, who aside from playing with Glynn in Silent Cinema, was known for blending digital and acoustic percussion seamlessly in One Man Machine, and the popular White Bitch. There was no question about who would be playing bass. The multi‐instrumentalist Cory Schultz, of the skyrocketing Mynameisjohnmichael who also worked with Glynn and Helgason in the massive psychedelic orchestra known as Antenna Inn. Helgason then enlisted his friend Amanda Wuerstlin, having heard her violin and piano work with The City Life and Kristen & the Mania. Her organic sound would provide the perfect contrast against the band’s digital hooks.
The puzzle was complete except for one key piece: a vocalist. The band sifted through its contacts, looking for the perfect component for their sound and found the perfect voice in a very unlikely place. Meg Roussel, a young folk musician playing small gigs around town accompanied by an acoustic guitar, would ironically be the perfect fit for the bands glitchy, hip‐shaking, amalgamation of electronica, dance, and pop. Her voice, a unique blend of 60’s soul, 70’s British folk, would prove itself on the bands first single Every Bone.
With no more than a few burned copies in the hands of key New Orleans DJ’s, a buzz built around the newly formed band, which began to write and record feverishly for their upcoming EP, due for a May release. If the response to the band’s first single is any indication, Big History will be around for the long haul. It’s safe to say that these musicians have more than a few tricks up their sleeves, and the New Orleans music scene has granted its listeners yet another completed puzzle.
-from Foburg Festival

Big History plans to release their debut six song EP in early May. Check out these two songs from the forthcoming EP. Free! (right click + "save as"):

TRACKS REMOVED. We will upload new tracks as they come :)

For more info on Big History, upcoming releases, gigs, etc., head over to:



Spotlight composed by: Justen Cheney, Connor Crawford, and Aaron Saltzman
Photographs by: Patrick Quirck (http://www.rapparee.us/)
Video footage by: Jeremy Blum

25 March 2011

[new] The Flaming Lips w/ Neon Indian - "Is David Bowie Dying?"

Prayers have been answered --- psychedelic godheads The Flaming Lips and chillwave auteurs Neon Indian have collaborated, and today, the fruits of that collaboration see the light of day. Below, stream the awesomely titled "Is David Bowie Dying?" from the bands' forthcoming 12".


23 March 2011

[new] YACHT- Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Portland electro-poppers YACHT aren't just musicians, they are live theatrics. Mashing art, a self proclaimed "belief system" of their own, and infectious catchy hooks they are nothing short of an entertaining duo. Below is a track they released yesterday, entitled Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire). Super limited 7" single to be released soon.

EDIT: Download the track here.

[video] Akron/Family - "Island"

Psychedelic freak-folk sensei Akron/Family have just put out a video for the song "Island" from their latest album S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. The song is a perfect laid back summer tune that features floating harmonies, spatially refreshing guitars, and hushed tribal drumming. In the video, stunning beach scenery juxtaposed with urban terrain probably provides an fitting idea of how most of us will spend the coming months. I don't know about you, but this makes me wanna go to the the Gulf of MexicooOOOOoooOo. Watch the video below:

22 March 2011

[new] Belong- Common Era (LP)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

New Orleans duo Belong has just released an LP yesterday on Kranky entitled "Common Era". The two are known for ambiance and textural guitar rhythms that seem to drone on forever over soundscapes of loops. Starting in 02, Belong takes their time with the writing process, or are just lazy (who isn't), this being only the second release in nearly nine years. One of the driving forces in "Common Era" are the vocals, perfectly harmonizing over synth washes and experimental tones.


Interview with Sun Airway!

"The craziest nights of our lives always happen in New Orleans."

Last Sunday night, after Art/Official’s Foburg showcase at Saturn Bar with Small Black, Cults, Cloud Nothings, and Sun Airway, I caught up with Jon Barthmus, frontman of Philadelphia bliss-pop outfit Sun Airway. They started the night off beautifully with a visually and aurally engaging set. This outstanding band has been turning heads in the indie world recently, and righteously so. They bring to mind a hybrid of Animal Collective and The Postal Service, with their own added authenticity. Their debut album Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier came out last year. In the front seats of their tour van, we discussed the following…

art/official: You guys have found a great medium between organic and electronic in your music. How did you accomplish that?
  • Jon Barthmus: That was the main intention going into the record. We were coming from a guitar rock background, but I always wanted to make electronic music. For Sun Airway, the music is “synthetic,” but I wanted to make it real.

a/o: How do you usually approach writing a song?

  • JB: It really runs the gamut. Usually lyrics come first because that’s the hardest part for me. I really write in every possible way. Sometimes I’ll work on a song for months and months, and sometimes I’ll finish a song within a day. There’s really no rhyme or reason to the process.

a/o: I saw a video of you guys playing an acoustic version of “Oh, Naoko,” and it had a real folk/Americana vibe. Do you tend to experiment with different ways to play songs?

  • JB: I’ve been experimenting with electronic music for a really long time. I wanted to make a record that was mine. All of the songs can be played with real instruments, but that’s really expensive, and during recording I didn’t have a ton of money. A lot of the songs can be played in different ways. The final product on record is what I wanted to put out there, though.

a/o: Do you write all of the songs yourself?
  • JB: Yeah, I write them all myself. After everyone quit my old band (the A-Sides), the drummer and I continued making music. I would record a bunch of stuff on my own in my basement, and bring some of it to the studio.

a/o: After touring, what’s your next move?
  • JB: We’re working on a 7” to put out this summer. We’re going to try to do a European tour. We’re doing Pitchfork Festival this summer along with a few others.

a/o: Do you have any collaborations in the works?
  • JB: I really wanna do something with Jana from Lower Dens. I love doing remix swaps, too.

a/o: Judging from the sound of the songs on the album, it sounds like somewhat of a break up album, but I see you’re wearing a wedding ring. What’s the story there?

  • JB: It’s not really a break up record. A lot of it was inspired by the book Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Actually, the songs “Oh, Naoko” and “Waiting On You” come directly from the novel. The book just really spoke to me. It’s this great, heartbreaking, coming-of-age work. I won’t give too much away, but I definitely recommend it. Then take a song like “Put the Days Away,” where it might sound like a break up, but it’s more about time in general. But yeah, the album isn’t entirely autobiographical.

a/o: What do you think of New Orleans so far?
  • JB: I love it here. The craziest nights of our lives always happen in New Orleans.

More Sun Airway:

For more from Sun Airway head over to: http://sunairway.com/

Article and interview by Connor Crawford

James Blake live at SxSW!

NPR went to SxSW this past weekend and got some amazing live footage . Rising post-dubstep/soul singer James Blake has been an obsession of mine for a while now. The new self titled album is one of my favorites of the last year by far. Below I have included a link, along with the setlist, for live performance footage of one of Blake's four SxSW shows at Stubb's. I have always said you must have a real sound system in order to fully appreciate Blake's music. This is especially the case for the track "Limit To Your love." I think you will find the bass doesn't translate at all in the footage as it would live or on the studio album. I guess that just means you'll have to go see him in person :).

~~James Blake Live at SxSW

1) “Unluck”
2) “Limit To Your Love”
3) “Klavierwerke”
4) “Lindesfarne II”
5) “The Wilhelm Scream”
6) “To Care (Like You)”

The set is short, but sweet. Enjoy!




21 March 2011

art/official drama!!

At this time those of us at art/official would like to appologize for the delay in some amazing original content that is long overdue. We have been working tirelessly since Foburg to compile the best articles, photos, and coverage from the event. We also hope to release our most anticipated spotlight yet this week before The Ethical Fashion Show!

We planned to release most of this content over the weekend, but a bit of drama unfolded which we had to take care of. I would try to explain, but I think I'll just let the video speak for itself...

Lots of love,

P.S. Check back tomorrow morning for our interview with Sun Airway, one of our favorite acts from our Foburg Showcase!



IN Exchange Ethical Fashion Show!

Featuring Big History, Royal Teeth, and art/official DJS!!

^^^^^^^ yea sponsorship!

This Friday at REPUBLIC! In Exchange Presents: An Ethical Fashion Show. All the fashion is fair trade and environmentally friendly! Musical acts will include Big History, Royal Teeth, and art/official DJs spinning beats to keep you moving. Come get your drink on with an absolutely FREE open vodka bar from 9-10pm. The best part? It's only $10!!!

~Big History:
     Making great strides at a rapid rate in the New Orleans music scene, Big History is bound to impress. Their sound has been described as dream pop. For those of you unaware of this new "genre," it sounds a bit like Beach House or the XX but dancey! Big History is one of art/official's favorites in the city. This is bound to be a great show.

~Royal Teeth:
     I have not seen Royal Teeth yet, but I am very exctied. This is taken from Gambit:
    Louisiana's rock awakening in 2010 wasn't rooted only in New Orleans. Lafayette produced a remade Brass Bed, the overjoyed Givers and Royal Teeth, whose electro-acoustic pop operas — voiced in hooting duplicate by Gary Larsen and Nora Patterson — suggest a Dirty Coast Projectors. The sextet has a live EP and split 7-inch with Big History slated for early 2011. Lovey Dovies, The Sour Notes and Smiley With a Knife also perform.

So a recap. For only $10 you get an hour of open bar, two great lives acts, a fashion show, and rump shakin' beats all night! We hope to see all your beautiful faces!

Lots of love,



[new] Fleet Foxes - "Battery Kinzie"

Everyone's favorite bearded harmonizers Fleet Foxes have given us another taste of their upcoming sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, which is out May 3 via Sub Pop. The song is called "Battery Kinzie," and is the likely second single from the new album. Listen to the album's title-track first single here. Stream "Battery Kinzie" below:

Foster the People~~ Expect FAME!

Foster the People, brainchild of frontman Mark Foster, once again blows my mind with their latest single entitled "Houdini." Recently signing to Columbia records, a few dates at SxSW, and a slot at Coachella, I can bet these guys are about to get really massive! Their beats are contagious. I have been listening to "Pumped Up Kicks" and "Helena Beat" non-stop. The newest track only feeds the addiction. Enjoy!


In case you missed the other epic singles, here they are for your listening pleasure!

Pumped Up Kicks~~

Helena Beat~~

Lots of love, Aaron XXX P.S. Best buddy, art/official graphic designer, and rising pop star Japayork is doing all the art work for the Foster the People records and singles. All the more reason to go buy them as they come out!


20 March 2011

Four Tet, Burial, and Thom Yorke!

A collaborative 12" between Burial and Four Tet + Thom Yorke is about to blow minds. Both tracks were aired March 15th on UK station Rinse FM. I know I'm a bit late to post these, but I am still tirelessly working on school, Foburg write-ups, and a new spotlight. So give me a break! These are incredible. So enjoy!!