Sleeper Agent returns with ‘About Last Night’

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Read my feature that ran in today’s College Heights Herald about Sleeper Agent here

Sleeper Agent plays the Loft in Lansing, Michigan tonight. Here’s the rest of their April tour dates:

Apr 8
Tue
Lansing Charter Township, MI
Apr 9
Wed
Apr 10
Thu
Apr 11
Fri
Apr 12
Sat
Apr 14
Mon
Apr 15
Tue
Apr 17
Thu
Apr 18
Fri
Apr 19
Sat
Apr 22
Tue
Apr 23
Wed
Apr 25
Fri
Apr 26
Sat
Apr 27
Sun
Apr 29
Tue

Raise Home Hell: Interview with Sleeper Agent’s Tony Smith

Screen grab from Sleeper Agent's video for 'Waves'

Screen grab from Sleeper Agent’s official video for About Last Night’s debut single ‘Waves’.

It’s been almost three years since Sleeper Agent burst on the scene with their raucous debut Celebrasion, a collection of fuzzy, fast-paced teenage rock anthems.

There’s no denying Sleeper Agent’s arrival. The band kicks off their first headlining tour tonight with a hometown show at the Warehouse at Mt. Victor at 9pm, supporting their sophomore album About Last Night, which dropped March 25. (Get tickets here: http://thewarehouseatmtvictor.com/). Bowling Green’s own Buffalo Rodeo and Knox Hamilton, an indie dance rock band from North Little Rock, Ark., will open.

The southern Kentucky six-piece returns with a more polished sound, a departure from the frenetic brand of garage pop that defined their first album, but they haven’t lost their penchant for sugary sweet melodies and infectious vocals, or the desire to raise some hell.

“You never saw me coming/Cause we never gonna die,” Smith mouths off on the opening track “Be Brave.”

 About Last Night documents the up and downs inherent to being a twenty-something.

“I think what I was going for was my experience with not only Alex, but just the rest of the band and being in my late 20’s,” Smith said. “Learning how to deal with life and love.”

I have a full profile of Sleeper Agent running in Tuesday’s (4/8) edition of the College Heights Herald. Here are some of my favorite tidbits from the interview.

 

On the stress of playing a hometown show:

“I’d say it’s incredibly stressful, it’s not my favorite thing to do, mainly because I look out, I see kids I grew up with and parents, lots of parents, maybe there’s a girl I treated poorly on a date one time, it’s a little more of a stress run. The reward is bigger too.  If we can do well in our hometown it will be talked about for months.”

 

On the Bowling Green music scene earning respect:

“Maybe Bowling Green feels a little shunned, we’re important too, we’ve got music and ideas and we’re gonna do it, ‘so fuck you’. That’s kind of the mentality.”

On Sleeper Agent headlining their first tour:

“Don’t really know what the experience will be like yet, I’ve been a support band my entire career. I’m a  little nauesous, but excited too. We don’t really know what to expect, we don’t know what the attendance is going to be like. We’re gonna go in and play a fucking killer show every night.”

 

Sleeper Agent plays a show at The End in Nashville, Tn. Sept. 13, 2011.

Sleeper Agent plays a show at The End in Nashville, Tn. Sept. 13, 2011.

 

Check out Sleeper Agent’s video for Waves

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Beauty in the Bruises: An interview with Waxahatchee

Katie Crutchfield has a way with delivering the excruciatingly honest. She makes the mundane and minute beautiful, painting pictures of small town existentialism and post-adolescent indifference.

“I left like I got my way/But truly I left with nothing at all,” she nonchalantly howls on “Hollow Bedroom”, the evocative opening of her sophomore effort “Cerulean Salt”, as Waxahatchee.

Crutchfield hails from Birmingham, Ala. originally, apparent through her irresistible southern drawl, but you get the sense she’s from a little bit of everywhere. The 25-year-old has spent the last decade fronting numerous bands (The Ackleys, P.S. Eliot, Bad Banana), touring the country (and world) Coast to Coast, and in the midst has established herself as a prolific songwriter in the DIY circuit.

“Cerulean Salt” has proved to be Crutchfield’s official coming out. The record, released in March 2013, has since garnered overwhelming critical acclaim, finding itself on countless “Best of 2013″ lists.

Blurred teenage memories, clumsy hookups and toxic relationships are all fodder for Crutchfield.

On the poignant “Lively”, Crutchfield tackles the ugliness of drug abuse. We find her in a dimly lit hospital room by the side of her overdosed lover. The song features one of the most haunting moments on the record.

“I had a dream last night/We had hit separate bottoms/You yell right in my face/And I’ll poison myself numb,” she cries out, longing for the simplicity of youth.

Crutchfield’s imagery is vivid, recalling dark winter mornings, unexplained blood stains on the backseat and hazy childhood memories spent at the river (er, Waxahatchee creek).

Crutchfield’s collection of songs is timeless and seems to resonate more with each passing listen.

She finds beauty in the bruises and wisdom in her wounds.

“You hold on to the past/You make yourself miserable/And I’m ruled by the seasons/And a sadness that’s inexplicable,” she confesses on “Swan Dive”.

 

Below is an e-mail interview I did with Katie.

-When did your interest in making music start? What was it like growing up in the Alabama music scene?
I GUESS I STARTED WANTING TO MAKE MUSIC WHEN I WAS ABOUT 14. THE ALABAMA MUSIC SCENE AT THAT TIME WAS MAGICAL. THERE WAS A DIY ALL AGES SPACE THERE CALLED CAVE9 AND A TON OF REALLY ENTHUSIASTIC KIDS MY AGE. IT WAS REALLY COOL.

-I’ve read that you basically wrote and recorded your entire first album over the course of a weekend. If you don’t mind, explain that experience. Is your song writing/recording process typically a quick, cathartic kind of process?

IT WAS A WEEK. IT HAD SNOWED A LOT WHICH ALABAMA IS NOT REALLY EQUIPPED FOR SO I JUST STAYED IN AND WROTE SONGS.

-How did the process of writing and recording for Cerulean Salt differ?

THE PROCESS FOR CERULEAN WAS SIMILAR BUT THE SUBJECT MATTER AND RECORDING PROCESS WERE DIFFERENT

-American Weekend and Cerulean Salt are similar in the fact that they evoke raw emotion and are often unflinchingly personal. However, your latest release seems to focus less on relationships and more on nostalgia. Can you talk about what inspired you for Cerulean Salt lyrically?

I WANTED TO BRANCH OUT AND STOP WRITING ABOUT THE BRAND OF HEARTBREAK I HAD BEEN WRITING ABOUT FOR YEARS. I THINK LAMENTING YOUR LOST ADOLESCENCE EVOKED SIMILAR FEELINGS FOR ME

-Cat Power, Rilo Kiley, Liz Phair (especially early girlysound tapes) are artists that I have heard you compared to. Do you feel a connection to these artists and just the aesthetic of 90’s grunge?

I FIND THE 90s COMPARISON A LITTLE GRATUITOUS. 90s NOSTALGIA IS ALMOST GENERIC AT THIS POINT. I LOVE A LOT OF MUSIC FROM THAT ERA BUT I FEEL LIKE THAT REALLY STICKS ME INTO A CORNER I DON’T WANT TO BE IN. THAT SAID, I DO REALLY LIKE ALL THE MUSIC YOU NAMED. RILO KILEY WAS CRUCIAL TO MY EARLY SONGWRITING. THAT WAS EARLY 2000s THOUGH

-Being from the south, do you feel any connection or inspiration from country music? (i.e. Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams)

THATS THE MUSIC I GREW UP ON. I FEEL LIKE LORETTA LYNN HAS ALWAYS SEEMED LIKE SOME SORT OF GODDESS TO ME, EVEN AS A

CHILD. I LOVE THAT ERA OF COUNTRY. SO MANY GOOD SINGERS AND SONGWRITERS

-What song(s) are you most proud of? ‘Dixie Cups and Jars’ particularly resonated with me, especially since I recently attended the wedding of an old childhood friend.

THATS ACTUALLY THE ONE IM MOST PROUD OF ON THIS RECORD

-You were in P.S. Eliot with you sister for several years and gained a pretty loyal fanbase. What was the transition to being a basically individual project? Do you have any future plans to collaborate with her?

I WROTE EVERYTHING IN PS ELIOT SO THE TRANSITION WAS PRETTY SEAMLESS. WE’RE REALLY CLOSE AND OUR LIVES ARE INTERTWINED IN BASICALLY EVERY OTHER FACET. NO PLANS TO COLLABORATE

 

 

Buffalo Rodeo: Chasing a Dream

Buffalo Rodeo: Chasing a Dream

Profile I did on Bowling Green band Buffalo Rodeo.

Morning Teleportation “People on My Floor”

Morning Teleportation is one of my favorite bands to come out of Bowling Green. They released a new track “People on My Floor” about a month or so ago. Sonically and lyrically Morning Teleportation delivers once again on this track. The band is currently on tour. Check out the song and tour dates on the link listed below. 

http://morningteleportation.bandcamp.com/track/people-on-my-floor

 

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I’ve been horrible at updating this blog (which I had very lofty intentions for). To be fair, I’ve been tied up working for student publications at WKU and have been doing an internship with the Beech Tree News in Morgantown, Kentucky since May.

The blog originally had a scope of focusing on primarily music that comes out of Bowling Green, Ky and the surrounding area. However, I’m going to broaden my horizons and include music anywhere that tickles my fancy. Trust, there will still be plenty posts focusing on the blossoming Bowling Green music scene.

The last show I attended was Best Coast’s gig 5/29 at Exit/In in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve been anxiously anticipating a Nashville show from Best Coast for years. Their 2010 album Crazy For You was a sunny, vintage-ode to beachy California pop and forlorn emotions any hormonal teenager (or 30 yr old for that matter) could identify with. It was a soundtrack to multiple lonesome summers of weed smoking and angsty self-exploration for myself. It’s one of those albums that will forever be in my 6-disc CD changer.

The Lovely Bad Things, a band I had come across a few months before (especially love their tune “I Want You to Go Away”, link for the video is below.) opened. An act entitled Bully played for them prior. I hadn’t heard of them previously but really enjoyed their sound and lead singer Alicia Bonganno.  Each band on the billing hailed from California and each had a hazy, angsty vibe I so often pine to hear from Best Coast.

Both opening acts put on excellent sets, though the heavy collection of instagram-snapping, vine-taking teenagers were not as involved as they ought. However, once Consentino hit the stage the crowd became much more lively. Several failed crowd-surfing attempts ensued (a Best Coast show wouldn’t be the show I would assume such behavior would occur) but Consentino’s stage presence and sense of humor (multiple finger-banging joke references) kept the show rolling and entertaining. Consentino opened with much of her material that got her buzzed on the national scene three summers ago and eased into newer material. Overall a great show and was happy to live out my hope of seeing the California duo again (saw them at Bonnaroo in ’11..those I was in a bit of a haze..) Consentino did manage to forgot a few lyrics to her most recognizable tune “Boyfriend”, but that was likely due to the round of jager bombs prior to her encore. The band is working on new music set to be released this year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtQGp4NwKuA

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Best Coast and Company Bring Beachy Vibes Down South

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I’ve been crushing on the Alabama Shakes for a while now. I’ve been a fan since I listened to their 1970’s southern rock revival “Hold On”. Lead singer Brittany Howard has a remarkable voice, reminiscent of a soulful blend of Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. Their sound is much different than many other alternative acts, and I respect their adoration of classic rock and soul influences from decades past.

The band was apart of Nashville’s annual Live on the Green series September 27. Nashville’s Public Square Park was packed for the band from Athens, Alabama. Howard’s strong stage presence was felt immediately, as fans in the audience swayed back and forth, intoxicated by the band’s exuberant southern charm and overall good vibe.

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Alabama Shakes’ Howard Even More Impressive Live

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Starry Nights returns in 2012 with larger crowd, same laid back vibe

Tents, cars, trailers and hundreds of people covered the normally desolate farmland at Ballance Farms in Oakland, Ky. For one early fall weekend in late September the field had a different feel and purpose-Good music and good vibes.

            After taking a hiatus in 2011 to regroup and extend the festival to a two-day event, the Starry Nights Music Festival returned in 2012 bigger than ever. The lineup included more than 20 bands, from local favorites Cage the Elephant and Sleeper Agent, to respected alternative acts such as Portugal, The Man and Manchester Orchestra.

            Tony Smith, lead singer and guitarist of Sleeper Agent, said Starry Nights has turned into an event that rivals many popular music festivals.

            “It’s become a festival I’d like to attend whether I were playing or not,” Tony Smith said. “It’s very surreal. It reminds me of the excitement I had looking forward to Lollapalooza in the mid 2000s.”

            It’s been a whirlwind two years since Sleeper Agent last played Starry Nights in 2010. The band has since been named a band to watch by Rolling Stone, performed at huge festivals like Coachella, and even participated in the 2012 Weezer Cruise, a four day music festival that took place on a cruise ship.

“It’s mostly been a blur,” Smith said. “But I’m glad to be apart of it regardless.”

The Kentucky rockers have generated a buzz and garnered a large legion of fans for their spontaneous, energetic brand of garage pop.  Starry Nights was a chance for the band to reconnect with their hometown fans and play some new music.

“We spent the whole summer holed up writing our second album with only a couple of shows,” Smith said. “We played eight new songs during our set, so I was more focused on hitting my marks than going wild on stage. I regret not loosening up a bit, but I think the everyone had a great time regardless.”

Smith has seen Starry Nights expand over the past four years and gain more attention nationally, much like the Bowling Green music scene.

“Hopefully it means the rest of the Bowling Green and the rest of the country will start taking notice of our little-community-that-could,” Smith said.

Cage the Elephant who since releasing their debut album in 2008, has helped pave the way for other Bowling Green artists to succeed in the music industry, curated the festival.

            For local fledgling artists trying to make a name for themselves, Starry Nights served as a platform to gain exposure and some new fans.

            “The Starry Nights set was definitely the biggest crowd our band has ever played in front of,” Jordan Reynolds, background vocalist and keyboardist for Buffalo Rodeo, said. “Since we’re not with any professional labels or producers, all we can do right now is play as many shows as possible and get the word out about our band. Playing at Starry Nights is perfect for that because people who would not otherwise know of us got a little taste of what Buffalo Rodeo is all about.”

            For music fans, Starry Nights was an opportunity to escape reality and enjoy some good music.

            “I feel everyone was there for the surreal moments of relaxation,” Bowling Green senior Kayla Ashby said. “Everyone was one with nature and musicality. The whole point of going to a festival is withdrawal from reality, make new friends, enjoy your favorite bands, and watch bands one has never seen.”

            Sisters Kayla and Sarah Ashby have grown up with many of the artists in the Bowling Green area, namely Cage the Elephant and Sleeper Agent, and were thrilled to see them play for a large, energetic crowd.

            “My favorite part of the festival was seeing my friends play on a big stage in front a huge crowd of fans,” Sarah, 20, said. “It was really exciting and cool to see how many people came out and how the bands are moving forward becoming more popular.”

            Starry Nights is a unique due to its intimate setting and ability to draw well-respected artists. K. Ashby said the small-town feel of the Bowling Green music scene makes the festival unlike any other music festival.

            “Starry Nights allows people to come to a small town where musicality flourishes,” Kayla said. “There are so many amazing local bands that everyone are astounded to see and continue to follow. The atmosphere is different from any other festival I have ever been to. I was overwhelmed by the variations in colors and shadows of trees, the rolling hills, and the overall natural scenery that laid behind each stage.”

 

 

           

             

             

           

           

 

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A new local band, The Pewbs, played at the Perk Hill Cafe April 26.

I was very impressed by the band’s sound, which incorporates a trumpet along with guitar, bass and drums.

The band could easily be likened to Beirut, which also utilizes the trumpet and a variety of other instruments.

Check out Beirut’s song “Nantes” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCkT4K-hppE

The Pewbs have yet to garner much attention, but they had the crowd of 50 or more people at Perk Hill Cafe on their feet and grooving.

Check out my video below to see what the Pewb’s sound like.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrOd46xVRek&w=560&h=315%5D

The Pewbs perform at Perk Hill Cafe

Several intriguing shows to check out before semester ends

As the spring semester reaches its final stretch, there are several upcoming shows students should consider checking out before heading home for the summer.

The Perk Hill Cafe, located right off campus on 111 Old Morgantown Rd., will be hosting a free show this Thursday, April 26.

Locals bands The Pewbs, Hudson Trail, Mahtulu, and Rainbow Kitty Kitty will be playing starting at 6:00 p.m.

Check out their band pages here to get an idea of what to expect.

The Pewbs: Google.com/pubichair
Mahtulu: https://www.facebook.com/MahtuluTheBand
Hudson Trail: https://www.facebook.com/hudsontrailmusic
Rainbow KK: https://www.facebook.com/rainbowkittykitty

For student 21 and older, local heavy metal favorite Opposum Holler will be playing at Tidball’s on Thursday April 26.

Check out their band page to hear some of their music: http://www.reverbnation.com/opossumholler

May 5, local bands Thee Japanese Schools Girls and Heavy Chase will be playing a special acoustic show at SKyPAC.

For students overwhelmed with studying for finals, or for those just looking to wind down their Cinco de Mayo, this show is definitely something to check out.

Doors open at 9 p.m. Cover is $7 for those 18-20 and $5 dollars for  those 21 and up.

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