Not Going To Governors Ball? Then Drink Here

When Kanye West, Guns N’ Roses, and Kings of Leon signed on to perform at the three-day, island music party Governors Ball, snagging a general-admission ticket got as hard as grabbing a seat on the 6 train at rush hour. So for all you folks who can’t get the last-remaining tickets or don’t want to pay the lowest-priced $95 stub, there are certain…alternatives. And by alternatives, I do mean very special cocktails made with Governors Ball’s official spirit – SKYY Vodka –  that you can get at two bars in NYC all weekend long: Cowgirl Seahorse and Rockbar.

Cowgirl Seahorse – the nautical spot right by South Street Seaport with mounted fish heads and antler chandeliers – and Rockbar – the grungy West Village gay bar – are doling out these three SKYY cocktails for just this weekend:

Moscato Envy: SKYY Infusions Moscato Grape, tonic, and lime

SKYY Palmer: SKYY Vodka, lemonade, and iced tea

Wild Strawberry Lemonade: SKYY Infusions Wild Strawberry, lemonade, wheels of lemon, and strawberries

Ask the bartender to blast Kanye’s "Stronger," and you’ll feel like you’re on Randall’s Island  – but without the ticket price, face-painted crowds, and nonstop Instagramming.

Get the inside-info on Cowgirl Seahorse and Rockbar, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Smooth Monday Jams: Canadian Edition

Hello! Kim Robinson here, one-half of the awesome party Sea Level that I put on with your regular scribe, Obey City.

For this week’s edition of Smooth Monday Jams, I’ve decided to take us on a journey northward to visit our pals in Canada. While some of the best smooth music has come from the states, there is no denying that the Canadians have a respectable catalog of smooth cuts. Here’s five songs that’ll tell you what some of our Canadian friends are aboot.

Dont forget: Sea Level has moved to Wednesdays at The Tender Trap, with the next party happening on March 6th! Come check us out and vibe to the smooth jams that will have you smiling throughout the rest of your week. Like Sea Level on Facebook to receive updates on our event

Destroyer – "Kaputt" (2011)

Dan Bejar of Destroyer excels at writing low-maintenance glam rock and indispensable smooth jams like the title cut from his album Kaputt. From the beginning of the track you know he means business with the filthy saxophone treatments sprinkled throughout. It’s a truly epic smooth jam that just keeps going on and on.

Feist – "One Evening" (2004)

Everyone knows Leslie Feist for the monster indie hit "1,2,3,4," but upon heavy inspection of her catalog we know that she’s a big fan of sultry R&B akin to Sade and Maxwell. Check this awesome video and song for this sleeper cut from the album Let It Die.

Gonzales – "Slow Down" (2008)

What can’t Gonzales do? Besides producing music for our previous artist Feist, he’s also worked with electroclash icon Peaches. On the side he plays amazing live solo piano recitals and records smooth jams for the intimate moments he’s created as a solo artist .

Joni Mitchell – "Coyote" (1976)  

You can’t go to Canada without visiting Joni. I’m a big fan of her early folk stuff, but have began to fully embrace her fusion-jazz work of the late ’70s. This track featuring the late, great bassist Jaco Pastorius was her first full jump into fusion, adding her beautiful vocals to a smooth jazzy landscape.


Drake – "Karaoke" (2010)


Produced by Sea Level fave Francis Starlight of "Francis & The Lights," this deep-cut was on Drake’s debut album, Thank Me Later. Over a smooth synth beat, Drake laments a lost love that doesn’t want the spotlight or attention of his new fame at the time. Sea Level would like to see more collaborations like this, especially when the results are this smooth. Thanks, Canada!

Follow Kim Robinson on Twitter

From The Sex Scene To The Twist Ending: ‘Breaking Dawn Part 2’ Is Epic

Here are some things you need to know about Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

1.     There’s a sex scene that makes you feel like you took E and a hit of a bong, drank a milkshake, and are discovering human touch for the first time in your life. This song plays the entire time.

2.     Every part involving Bella & Edward’s child Renesmee Cullen melts your heart into a tiny puddle of butter and love.

3.     Out-of-place clothing choices:

– In one scene, Robert Pattinson wears a hoodie that looks like he just cleaned out his garage.

– In one of the last scenes, Kristen Stewart wears a dowdy striped shirt with her hair messily up as if she just mopped up Renesmee’s spilled apple juice.

4.     In the opening scene, this song plays, restoring your faith in the magic of life, synth, and light reggae beats.

5.     There’s a twist ending that will blow your mind and it’s too epic to talk about.

I hope you’re ready…

BlackBook Tracks #17: A Chill In The Air

It’s cold, y’all. I cannot even deal with this right now. New season, new moods.

How To Dress Well – “& It Was U”

Tom Krell’s vision of stripped-down R&B is warm and cold at the same time. “& It Was U” has a purity to it that’s totally unforgettable.

Dirty Projectors – “About To Die”

Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan has received plenty of praise, and for good reason. “About To Die” shifts and twists, delicately revolving around now-trademark female vocal harmonies.

Taken By Trees – “I Want You”

Swedish artist Victoria Bergsman takes wistful sentiment and pushes it into a surprisingly weird place. Her recently released album Other Worlds sees her paying tribute to the sounds of Hawaii unlike you’ve ever heard before.

Interpol – “Next Exit”

Whenever New York starts to feel dreary, it’s time to break out the Interpol.

Dead Man’s Bones – “Pa Pa Power”

Will Ryan Gosling ever rescue me from the hazards of my own life? Will he ever record another album with Dead Man’s Bones? His meme-worthiness may have declined lately, but let’s hope the answer to both is “yes.”

Feist – “Sealion” (Chromeo remix)

Back in the day, Feist’s tribute to the selkie myth received this funked-up remix from fellow Canadians Chromeo.

Diamond Rings – “I’m Just Me” (Yelle DJs remix)

The dancefloor becomes a dark place when French favorites Yelle take on this frank synth-pop anthem.

Foals – “Black Gold”

This seems like a good time to revisit all the feelings evoked by Foals’ 2010 album Total Life Forever. Haunting, gorgeous, and tightly held together.

Nico – “These Days”

In case you’ve been thinking about The Royal Tenenbaums recently.

Follow Katie Chow on Twitter.

How To Dress Well Makes Thought-Provoking R&B That Stands On Its Own

Tom Krell is a Colorado-born singer and producer whose haunting vocals, emotionally driven lyrics, and experimental beats can only heard when channeled through his R&B-loving alter-ego, How To Dress Well. He’s an artist who is very concerned about how his music is perceived, and his eagerness for a seal of approval comes across in every track as he pours his heart and soul into every note in the process. We caught up with him to discuss his new album, Total Loss, being compared to Jamie Woon and James Blake, and where he stands in the R&B world.

How To Dress Well—interesting name you’ve got there. How did you come up with it?
When I first starting recording music, I was filing it away in my laptop at a friend’s house. iTunes asked for a name, and there, on the coffee table, were two old books my friend had copped from the bookstore below our flat: How To Photograph Women Beautifully and How To Dress Well. I just picked one, and, since then, everything I’ve recorded has been filed under that name. I can see how some people would find it off-putting or arrogant, but it’s definitely not intended to be. It’s really just a random name.

Random, but cool! As a youngster growing up, which musicians did you draw influence from as you were finding your musical feet?
Like, as a kid, kid? I’d say Michael Jackson, Tevin Campbell, and so on. But then it’s like Brian Eno, Grouper, Feist, Kate Bush, Babyface, Mount Eerie, Nine Inch Nails, Antony, The KLF… Yeah, I’ve been into a lot of different shit.

And you would describe your music how?
Regardless of what genre it’s closest to, I consider HTDW spiritually experimental music. The voice and harmonies are the foundation.

You’ve been compared to the likes of U.K. crooners Jamie Woon and James Blake. What are your honest thoughts on that?
Some comparisons are a bit knee-jerk. I mean, most of them I can certainly understand. However, I do find my music to be more in the plane of Maxwell, Tracy Chapman, Grouper, and Kate Bush, rather than Woon or Blake.

Thanks for clearing that one up! It seems many artists today are almost afraid to put themselves under the R&B bracket, but you don’t seem to mind. What do you think you bring to the genre that is, perhaps, currently missing?
Well, I’m not too quick to place myself under that bracket, either, but I do love a very wide range of R&B artists. And, to that genre, I hope I can bring something thought provoking and heartfelt. I do think that pop-R&B often misses those elements. 

Although you released music before 2010’s Love Remains album, that particular LP got the music world talking a lot. What was it about Love Remains that you think people connected with so much?
I’m glad that a lot of people connected with it. It’s an album about melancholy, and the goal was to portray melancholy, not simply by singing about it, but actually trying to present the affective terrain of melancholy sonically. I think people heard, understood, and felt that intention.

Tell me about your latest project, Total Loss. What was the thought process behind this album?
It’s an album about mourning: mourning the loss of loved ones, love, faith, desire, and hope. And when I say mourning, I mean coming to grips with loss, not getting over it—as I do feel like that’s an impossible task, particularly with death—but learning to live with and grow from it.

Very deep. All right, honestly, do you feel that the mainstream’s ready for what you’re about? 
Man, I really don’t know. I mean, I hope so! I genuinely do. I would love for more people to listen to and find solace in Total Loss.

On a totally different note, who are you listening to right now? Anyone out there who you could see yourself working with down the line?
Right now, as we’re speaking, I’m listening to And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead [laughs]. I was listening to Jeremih before that. Collabs are super exciting, and I hope I get to do some sick ones, but I’m more looking to work with artists, filmmakers, etc.

You’re already off to a great start, but what are your hopes for the future?
I hope these upcoming tours go well, and that people can take something special away from the shows. I want to record, record, record! I’m constantly writing new music. I also hope that I can live fully and love, be in love, and be loved for the rest of my life.

Follow Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson on Twitter.

Feist, In Dark and Light, In ‘Anti-Pioneer’ Video

After a super-intense week in which her Feistodon EP with metalheads Mastodon dropped, complete with interactive music video, Leslie Feist returns to a more mellow state with the video for “Anti-Pioneer,” from her most recent record, Metals.

The singer wanders through the play of light and shadows built for her by Martin de Thurah, the Denmark-based director you may remember from such videos as James Blake’s “Limit To Your Love” (Incidentally, a cover of a Feist song! How meta!), as well as videos for Kanye West, Fever Ray and Roysköpp, among others.

If you need a good soundtrack to relaxing this weekend, this should do the trick. Have a look and a listen below, via Nowness.

Feist: Anti-Pioneer on

Play With Your Tunes: Feist and Mastodon Drop Interactive Video for ‘A Commotion’

Interactive music videos aren’t anything new—Chairlift made a pretty great choose-your-own-adventure video for "Met Before" that was released earlier this year. But for as few interactive music videos as there are, there are even fewer that allow you to adjust according to your musical cravings. Feist and Mastodon partnered for the collaborative "Feistodon" EP, in which Mastodon covered "A Commotion" and Feist tried her hand at "Black Tongue," and released the former today with a music video where users can crossfade effortlessly between the two artists.

Listeners looking for a more mild experience can opt for Feist’s more subtle vocals and strings; those looking for something with a bit more crunch can fade to the grumbling vocals and barrage of drums in Mastodon’s version. Or play with the balance to find what works for you, all while watching Leslie Feist have a great time wrecking some instruments. The Feistodon digital 7" is available now.  

Watch the Vice Cooler-directed spot below and play with the HTML5 crossfade app at either artist’s website.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012 Lineup Includes Vampire Weekend, Grimes, Feist & More

The annual Pitchfork Music Festival is always a doozy, full of bands you probably want to see before they blow up even bigger. This year’s event takes place at Chicago’s Union Park from July 13-15, as it usually does. Pitchfork has also announced the initial lineup: Among others to come, Vampire Weekend, Feist, Hot Chip, Grimes, Cloud Nothing, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Kendrick Lamar, Tim Hecker, AraabMUZIK, A$AP Rocky, The Field, Liturgy and Willis Earl Beal will appear over three days. As is typical by now for the six-years-old festival, it’s a nice blend of artists who got big in the last year, respectable indie veterans, experimental acts, and big tent headliner types.

Tickets go on sale March 9, costing you $45 a day or $110 for the whole weekend. Be ready with that credit card; the festival typically sells out quickly, so move fast lest you be stuck attending your local bluegrass festival (although it will probably have better food so whatever, do what you want, everything is great). There are more than 30 acts left to be announced over the next few weeks, but why wait to commit?

With ‘Metals,’ Feist Lets Go of Everything She Learned from ‘The Reminder’

I thought I might do this while taking a bubble bath,” says Leslie Feist after inviting me into her room at the Lafayette House, a gas light-era hotel in New York’s East Village. Dressed in a cream-colored skirt and sweater with a braided belt dangling from her hip, the petite musician has apparently changed her mind, instead sitting on a couch next to a set of French doors opening onto a garden. Like her music, Feist appears both crafted and casual. Her pale blue eyes shift mercurially and are capable of registering stillness, shyness, and robust laughter within seconds. “Have you been to Maryam Nassir Zadeh?” she asks of the New York boutique. “She carries crazy, beautiful sweaters that I live in. Getting on a long flight with one of her sweaters is the best.”

Finding comfort in unlikely places is one of Feist’s regular preoccupations; her itinerant lifestyle has seen the 35-year-old Canadian singer move between locales with the kind of frequency usually reserved for dry, wind-borne plants. While she’s finally put down stakes in the Toronto area with “a place in the woods” and “several little apartments in the city” (the response to her call in “Mushaboom” for an idyllic home), she’s about to begin yet another tour in support of her new album, Metals. Her need for “very few things” serves her well. As she avers in the single “How Come You Never Go There,” physical objects don’t enrich her internal life. “The room’s full but hearts are empty,” she sings, “Like the letters never sent me.”

It’s been four years since Feist put out her last studio album, The Reminder, an outstanding effort for which she picked up four Grammy nominations, an iPod commercial, and an appearance on Sesame Street in which she teaches kids to count to four. It took time to quell the urge to respond to The Reminder, especially given its success. “It would have been like bouncing from one trampoline to the next,” says Feist, who started her first band, a punk outfit, at the age of 15. “I took the time off I needed.” After a year and a half, following her last tour, she felt a “healthy void” and a “familiar silence” that let her shed all remaining traces of that album’s success. “It was truly a new chapter.”

Metals bears Feist’s hallmark talent for arrangements, as well as her emotional, ambiguous lyrics. Yet it’s a dark and melancholic departure from The Reminder, the pop hooks of which rendered that album a favorite for remixes by the likes of the Postal Service, Bon Iver, and Chromeo. Luckily for Feist, her longtime collaborators, musicians Chilly Gonzales and Mocky, understood that she’s no one-trick pony, that The Reminder was just a taste of her musical potential. image

“I brought them some new songs that had nothing to do with anything I’d done previously,” she says. Perhaps it was all those long winter evenings sitting in on sessions of shape note singing by local choirs, a tradition Feist says was brought over by Mayflower-era pilgrims. “It’s a bit fire and brimstone,” she says, smiling. Because of their long-standing “musical brotherhood,” Gonzales and Mocky were able to work with Feist’s needs, which, in this case, called for arranging the music beside a wood stove in a cabin, then jetting to the cliffs of Big Sur, where they holed up on a 350-acre heritage farm with the other members of the band, including keyboardist Brian LeBarton and percussionist Dean Stone. The “calm-pound,” as she describes it, also included a friend who worked at Brooklyn diner Marlow & Sons, and who prepared them meals and confections like fresh goat milk and lavender ice cream.

While The Reminder had a lot of “clean lines” and “stacks of vocals” interlaced above its rhythms like a “sonic loom,” in Metals, rhythm acts as a central core around which the melodies spin. “Boom, kaboom boom, kaboom, boom,” Feist interjects, lifting her hand and moving it rhythmically in a characteristically colorful audio and visual demonstration. “That’s the pulse that yanks the melodies down into it. It’s a lot more like a dust storm.” Another unexpected quality that came from recording the album live was catching the odd sounds produced in the room, which Feist was reluctant to clean up. “I loved hearing this sonic pressure,” she says. “It needed to happen. Cleaning up these songs would have been like giving them the wrong haircut.”

In a 2007 article, Gonzales told The New York Times, “I had 100 percent in my mind the idea that we should have as much material as possible that could be played on the radio or resonate with a huge bunch of people.” In retrospect, Feist says it’s funny to hear his comments about The Reminder given its subsequent success, since there was no way they could have planned for what happened.

This time around, if Feist played editor of Metals, Gonzales provided the rigor and drive that structured her creative flowerings. “Gonzo wears an Anthony Robbins set of glasses,” she says, referring to the famed life-coach guru. “He triangulates everything in the world as it relates to ambition. He has a real fascination with human motivation. He speaks of these things in Rocky-like terms.”

Feist fans expect a lot. While her first two albums were well-received, it was The Reminder that had crowds breaking into impromptu chants of “I Feel It All” at a concert in Mexico City, where she played with Broken Social Scene, a band of which she’s a sometime member. Says Gonzales, “On this album, Feist was emboldened by The Reminder’s big reach to jump even further. It’s a less conventional sound, so I admire her for using her bully pulpit to take even bigger musical risks.”

Our coffee arrives and Feist opens a cylindrical pack of sugar and sprinkles it gingerly a few times over her cup. “This is absurd,” she says, “but I like 20 grains of sugar. It just takes that tiny acrid edge off.” She tastes it, judging its edginess, and says, “That might be more like 30 grains.”


Photography by Mary Rozzi