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CS Luxem Shines Their Light (And It Didn’t Help My Migraine)

CS Luxem broke the monotony of ambient music in the night with their combination of music and social awkwardness. While it seemed odd it came together for an interesting show that provided the only fresh air that was in The Replay Lounge by that part of the night.

Luxem provided a nice break from all the ambient music with their combination of doo-wop paired with a strong bass line. Adding off-key vocals and some synth elements to the mix does max it interesting, though at times it felt a little hokey. I felt like at times there was too much in the mix that it was a bit of overkill, such as too strong of a bass line or too much reverb that seemed to serve no purpose. On a more positive note they remind me of a grittier 10 CC.

As I’ve said with other bands that night I’m giving some leeway about their performance as I couldn’t see the stage thanks to a tight crowd. I’m going to give them even more leeway because I started to feel ill and left in the middle of their set. I feel because of that they didn’t get a fair review without it, especially when I left it seems they really started to play their finer songs. What I did get to note was while sometimes over the top musically CS Luxem also delivered equally goofy stage antics. At times it came off a part of the act, but it also felt a little contrived as if trying to mask something.

The audience enjoyed the antics, though, and showed it with lots of cheering. Sadly this section is pretty sparse, which adds to why I’m giving them leeway. It’s not their fault, but at least the audience got to enjoy them.

As I’ve said CS Luxem combines doo-wop and synth with goofiness. What little I did review shows that while a bit rough around the edges can provide something unique and a bit reminiscent of 70’s and 80’s music. I hope to give them a more complete review in the future.

 

Technique- 2

Presentation- 1.5

Audience Interaction- 1

Brownie Points- 0.75

Total- 5.25

 

Tycho Alba: Similar but Not Quite Like Tycho

Coming all the way from Colorado to grace The Replay Lounge is Tycho Alba. I’ll admit I couldn’t help but make a horrible wordplay on the artist Tycho in the title of this article. In reality the only similarities they share are something with Tycho in their names and tend to create ambient music.

Tycho Alba captures ambient music vibes and mixes it with atonal vocals (though I suspect at times the singer just missed the pitch) and synth elements reminiscent of 80’s electronic music. At times they varied on this by pulling from disco or jazz (and in one song power chords) in order to create a sound that I can only really describe as both playing into ambient music and a new wave revival. They also go as far as to create dissonance within their music while not compromising the tranquility of the music. One song in particular featured a very staccato rhythm with the smooth, connecting elements of ambient melodies. However, one of the pitfalls of ambient music is its monotony, and Tycho Alba can’t escape it. There were times where the songs sounded too much alike where, had they been played consecutively, I would have figured was a long song. However I think this band’s aware of this pitfall and at least came prepared to keep the audience’s attention.

As I’ve said in other reviews I find it hard to review an ambient performance. The point of the music is to be relaxing and trance-like. Playing at a venue that tends to be lively proves challenging, especially for music that provides a relaxing atmosphere. It can put a show at odds with the surroundings. These guys were able, from what I could see without a crowd, show some enthusiasm with their music They also joked a bit with audience and engaged further with special effects. At least, I think fog machines fall under special effects. Either way they used it, and boy did it release a lot of fog! The audience didn’t seem to mind, though.

The audience, in fact, seemed somewhat engaged. As I noted they gathered closely around the stage so I had a hard time watching the performance. There was a bit of cheering and applauding throughout, and it seemed fairly consistent with the exception of one or two songs. As I said, playing ambient music live can be tough, especially at a lively venue.

Overall Tycho Alba are able to add to ambient music by incorporating at times very dichotomous elements. Even though they still fall into the trappings of performing ambient music at times they still manage to captivate the audience as much as the genre is capable of doing.

 

Technique- 2.5

Presentation-1.5

Audience Interaction–1.5

Brownie Points-0.5

Total-6.0

Putting on a Show with Heidi Gluck and The Pony Show

As of late The Replay Lounge has some act where they play ambient music every time I visit. I’m not sure why that’s the trend, but I found myself catching a band who has Michelle Bacon (locals probably know her from quite a few other bands such as The Philistines). Since I’ve enjoyed other bands she’s played in I felt I was in for a treat. I learned some stuff after the performance when I went to research the band. Based on research it seems Heidi Gluck is a multi-talent solo act who recruited musicians for her live performances. I’m presuming then the songs are written by her and will address that aspect as such. In spite of this being more of a solo work I feel Heidi’s work is both unexpected and familiar.

I applaud Heidi Gluck for tying soothing ambient aspects and gritty alternative rock with vaudeville theatrics. I can’t recall if I’ve heard that combination before and I feel it’s pulled off well. She put a lot of thought into their sound and it’s a welcome change from the typical ambient music I’ve heard at The Replay Lounge lately. The weakest point musically came from not the unique blend, but the pitfalls of being creative: at some point one’s musical influences show up in one’s own work. Unfortunately the influences stand out too much and take the foreground periodically. There were times I felt the lyrics and other parts of musical composition were so familiar, as if they came from songs I’ve heard. I couldn’t tell if that was on purpose, but it detracts from the music for me. Pairing up what I suspect is an issue with composition is while aesthetically and creatively strong, lyrically they’re weak at times. While I do enjoy metaphors comparing love to target shooting –a metaphor fleshed out the entire song – I didn’t feel the juxtaposition lyrically added anything to the music.

I’m giving them leeway in the presentation aspect with some extra points because I had a hard time actually seeing them play. From what I could hear, though, there were moments where we got to see everyone on stage interact with the audience, such as the proud announcement for Heidi (for which I envy you). These little moments help bring out a performance. I do have one thing that I feel goes into this category that is important to note. I’d like to suggest rearranging the set list for venues like The Replay Lounge. In particular, while the audience may have been gathered around, at this venue there’s a lot competing for their attention. You are dealing with televisions, pinball machines, anything that’s going on out on the patio, and sometimes more. Starting off with ambient music when the set list contains other songs that are more energetic and unique are a disservice to the performance.

I couldn’t see how the band performed, but I did see how the audience reacted. The very fact they crowded the stage to watch is great. As I said, though, there’s more to a concert than performing well. It’s not just about great music and looking cool, it’s about actually getting the audience to engage with you as well. They were somewhat engaged early on, which was evidenced by cheering and clapping. It increased more when the music got less ambient and more vivacious.

I think there’s a lot of creativity and ambition in Heidi Gluck and she will go very far. Musically my only input is to make sure the creativity is paired with meaning and authenticity so the work will blend into something deeper and unique.

 

Technique-3

Presentation-1

Audience Interaction-1

Brownie Points-0.5

Total- 5.5

The Sluts: 8/16/13 at the Replay Lounge

Instead of the digest format I was using (it took too long for me to type up reviews) I decided to go to individual reviews. These duo formed in 2011, but their sound fooled me into believing they were a bit older (I live under a rock, OK?) based on how much they drew from grunge. Nonetheless their performance entices the audience without compromising. Here’s some of the stuff I noticed.

These guys keep it basic in time signature, but offer a lot of interesting stuff to make up for it. The combination of enjoyable rhythms and varied textures adds yet preserves their overall raw feeling. This is apparent from the songs earlier in their set and comes into full force by the end. Blending the elements of results in something catchy yet remains true to the genres from which they pull. There were times, though, the grunge elements proved troublesome. Earlier on in the set I couldn’t tell if the vocals were purposefully off key or if something else influenced it. Since it happened fairly often I’m going to assume it was a stylistic choice since there was a song near the end of the set that also had a similar dissonance.

I’m very mixed about this band’s energy onstage. It was a bit pent up at times, but the Replay’s indoor stage is small and doesn’t allow for much movement. I’m willing to be forgiving in that respect. Even with limited space the guitarist was able to inject humor with some silly motions. Since I feel they’re capable of working with a small space to some degree I wish there was more they could have done on stage. It doesn’t matter, though, as with all things I write. The audience didn’t seem bothered with their lack of motion as I was.

The audience seemed to love these guys. At one point just about everyone was out on the floor dancing. One thing this band does well is handle their audience when they get worked up. With a band name like The Sluts, of course folks used that as heckling fodder. The drunken members even shouted a request for “Freebird”. I’ll just assume there was too much liquor and not enough creative braincells at work with that part of the audience. Luckily, The Sluts didn’t dignify it too much with a response, even though I felt the Bill Hick’s response to the same heckling would be justified.

The Sluts put on a show and leaves their audience asking for more. This duo pulls everything together with sincerity and raw musicality. This doesn’t mean they neglect to add a bit of humor. Goofiness is part of the lyrical content as well as the act. With that out of the way here is my rating:

Technique: 3

Presentation: 2.5

Audience: 3

Brownie: 0

Total: 8.5

Beaded Hall: 8/16/13 at the Replay Lounge

Beaded Hall, the project for Andrew Fredrick, started off the night. While most likely known for his work with OILS Mr. Fredrick also likes to perform his solo project, which has some local notoriety as well. This one-man act provides a blend of indie, ambient, and experimental music.

If given the chance one can get lost in the soothing, jazzy ambiance mostly dominant in the music. At times the only thing to break the trance in which I got lost was the either the singing or the end of the song. Sometimes the songs weren’t fully developed as I thought they could be, and this disappointed me at times.

The biggest issue I noted was the use of a falsetto. Sometimes it was off-key and I couldn’t tell if this purposefully so. If so, working on it is a mute point. If not, some vocal exercises are in order (like the siren exercises) in order to learn how to fully use it. Not all of the off-key issues can be attributed to a falsetto. Sometimes Mr. Fredrick let his voice collapse, I tendency I have and recognize the sound all too well. Some breathing exercises and being mindful of this tendency is all I can recommend.

I really enjoyed how the personality came through in the act as well as the music. The audience got to see a quirky, goofy guy who happened to like quirky music. One major issue I had with the performance was how the transition from a bandmate to solo act didn’t go smoothly. I didn’t know his set started until well into the second song (or I’m assuming is the second song). Being unimposing goes well for a band, but not all too well for a solo work. It shows that maybe Beaded Hall is a little green in that respect. It can be deceivingly easy to own the stage when it’s small like one at the Replay with calming music. However the intimacy of this venue actually makes it harder to fill the space and keep the audience’s attention with this type of music.

The audience reacted to his unimposing stage presence by not paying attention for the most part. They mostly payed attention when Beaded Hall got into less ambient music and more into his experimental and indie rock elements. Otherwise they were focused on other things. It didn’t help there was a DJ to compete with for attention on the patio, though luckily this didn’t disrupt Beaded Hall’s performance.

There are some things Beaded Hall needs to work on and most have to do with vocal technique and not being so shy. Despite these issues I see a great solo act that has some greater performances in the future.

Technique: 2.5

Performance: 1

Audience Interaction: 1

Brownie Points:0.5

Total: 5

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