The YIP YOPS kicked off their July residency last night, and if you were not at the Echo, you missed a great night of music discovery.
The night started with O Future, an electronic duo, which used to call themselves OOFJ, but they may have changed their moniker because it was unpronounceable? Their set was an emotional experience with Katherine Mills’ high-pitch youthful vocals over Jens Bjornkjaer’ s electronic table. But it was more than pure electro beats, as Jens was occasionally playing flute and saxophone during her partner’s melancholic howls, and it was hard to not get a Bjork’s vibe, while listening to their ethereal soundscapes and electro swirls. If I also got a vague Radiohead-ish feel during another song, which was accentuated by Katherine Mills’ dynamic Thom-York-Lotus-Flower-moves, it was actually difficult to find any reference for the desolated music of the exotic duo (he is Danish, she is from South Africa)… but they kept going from icy dancefloors to enigmatic vaporous sound, or even sensual spy-movie soundtracks.
if I had never heard of them, MainMan had attracted a large crowd, as they played an interesting and multi-layered set of songs, obviously reclaiming diverse classic influences. Part arena-rock, part indie rock, you could hear Built to Spill’s influences but also some true jazzy adventures turning all Donald Fagen during a few songs (such as ‘WWH’), while the space-y ether of others could recall something close to Pink Floyd. And since we are with comparisons, singer Morgan Demeter’s plaintiff and poignant vocals had a sort of James Taylor tone with a jazzy, so you can imagine the beautiful confusion going through my head while trying to describe their complicated sound. The guitar-driven tunes often started with a real sweetness, which would get louder as it progressed, while looking for the unexpected and original departures from the apparent simple melody. They played their new single ‘Still Remains’, which should be out this Friday, while they announced they were about to embark for a mini tour.
I had already seen YIP YOPS a few times (Chinatown Summer Nights, Echo Park Rising), but these kids – they still look extremely young – are getting better every time, putting on a very mature show for their young age. The Coachella-valley-born group were ambitious and professional on Monday night with a set dominated by singer/guitarist Ison Van Winkle’s dark croon that would make him the perfect fit for the New Wave/Post Punk era. On stage, they were all fire and ice, with dark textures, layered with Mari Brossfield’s multi-level synth and their excellent rhythm section made of drummer Ross Murakami and bassist Jacob Gutierrez. The band has a real sense of theatricality with a restless frontman, making big arm gesture and nevertheless not missing a dark howl during his multiple stage antics. Many of their compositions had undeniable hooks, and a song, simply called ‘This’ (although it could have been an abbreviation) had a krautrock-LCD Soundsystem catchy groove, letting Ison’ s deep voice shine over numerous arm wheels and foot trépignations. Meanwhile, Mari’s backup soaring vocals added a charming Regine Chassagne component to many tunes, followed by an impressive drum solo. Songs like ‘Head Home’ or ‘Heavy Soul’ were infectious dark disco dancefloors with rubber-like beats and catchy melodies, while they were joined on stage by a saxophonist. Their brand of electrifying electro pop, with a real taste for the ‘80s — it’s not a coincidence if they covered Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’ to end their set — was well served by Ison’s deep baritone and a large dose of charisma,… such stage presence cannot be faked.
Yeses had the ungrateful task to go after midnight on a Monday night, but it didn’t stop the quartet to play their emotional music with luminous guitars and heartfelt vocals. There was a poignancy and a real melancholy attached to the singer’s low whisper, while the textures were going from dreamy to plain thunder, floating between compositions of several bands famous for their layered-guitars, and sometimes a tad happier than the National’s.
Monday residencies are always a great occasion to discover new music, and last night was no exception if you could afford to stay up that late.
Chuck D is at the Grammy Museum
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