NEW RELEASE: Marley Carroll DJ Mix ‘Summer Turns Fall’

To celebrate the end of a long, gig-intensive summer, Marley Carroll released a new DJ mix yesterday. And aren’t we all so glad he did. Titled Summer Turns Fall, the 48 minute mix is a lesson in transition, from the sun-fueled funk house beats to chilly, weighted scratchwork that reflects these deepening nights.

It begins on the dance floor in my mind, KC and the Sunshine Band’s cover of “I Get Lifted” a damn good groove early on, which has served as a staple in the MC DJ set list all summer. But afterward I am somewhere else altogether.

As the beats swell up, strip down and rise again, Carroll creates a potent tension with his silvery sensitivity to the turntables. And then carefully, gracefully, he releases it, each track a lush new environment for the mind to explore. It’s like walking into another room on mushrooms. The imagination does not soar–it digs down and treks–from the bright, honey morning forest to the mysterious side of some wild island, where shadows speak and beams of full moonlight strike the scales of nightswimming fish like chimes.

Summer Turns Fall carves out an irresistible telling of the shift from poolside to fireside, without and within. Pairs nicely with cloud-watching, driving, or jaunty daydreaming in a doctor’s office.

Listen on SoundCloud here

Download from Bandcamp here

RBTS LOVE

Post-show with RBTS WIN and some Junior Astronomers

Post-show with RBTS WIN and some Junior Astronomers

Last Saturday was a particularly potent music night in Asheville. Holy Ghost Tent Revival was covering Beck’s 1999 album Midnite Vultures in its entirety at the Mothlight (fuck!) while Marley Carroll entertained the Christmas theme-loving drunks at the Holiday Liquor & Dance Luau Party. But amongst all this temptation I knew I was on the path to righteousness, for I was seeing RBTS WIN for the first time at Isis.

A simple stage set supported the black-clad trio, who don’t need mind-melting visuals or even color in their clothes to spread their message of universal love, peace, and good times. Imagine that, Asheville!

The rich, soulful quality of Worsham’s vocals matched with the tremendous electronic beatstorm conducted by Bolea and self-possession of guitarist Josh Chassner exemplifies the yin-yang symbiosis that makes this group shine. (I failed to mention Chassner in my preview piece. My folly! He’s awesome.)

Favorite moments:

1. Whatever Bolea did to make “Stay Wavy” go to 11

2. Drunk chicks up front trying to touch them (yay groupies)

3. “Death Magic” ALL OF IT ALWAYS

 

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Some new songz in there, y’all

I missed first act EmE by a hair, but the second band, Charlotte-based Junior Astronomers, was a lot of fun. The four-piece brought some solid Strokes-influenced indie rock to the party, something the AVL scene pretends to have forgotten about. I’ll speak more on them later when they invite me to a show of their own. You hear that, fellas?

And meanwhile…

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A new band tee deserves a trip to the Bywater

 

…I’m having a ball with my new RBTS WIN tank top. The cut is perfect! Ladies, git it!

 

 

RBTS WIN Likely to Win My Heart at Isis July 11

I first became aware of RBTS WIN through a remix of their original “Mountain Child.” That strong, pulsing melody, those silky, beckoning vocals swimming through an unmistakable Marley Carroll filter. Now, being of the mind that Carroll doesn’t remix shitty songs, I had to know who this RBTS WIN was. I went straight to their SoundCloud.

RBTS WIN is the sonic lovechild of Javier Bolea and Cliff B. Worsham, Miami and Asheville natives respectively, who in 2008 got together and soon found a groove that reflected both their shared musical interests as well as their distinctive origins.

Last year’s album release Palm Sunday is a celebration of Bolea’s beachy roots and Worsham’s mountainous ones. Where the two meet in the middle is a lush, electronic tide pool, heavily sampled and tweaked but always with a groovy nature base. They are seemingly just as likely to be inspired by an ocean wave or hornet’s nest as ’60s soul and urban beats.

Others have tried to genre-lize them, but with so many influences I’ll spare you that arbitrary attempt. The sensual, technicolor soundscape of such tracks as “Beach Child” and “Death Magic” are textured like a lucid dream, so stunningly real but impossible to pin down.

When BomBassic told me they’re working on their own “Death Magic” remix for their upcoming album, I quite nearly licked their beautiful faces. That song has been that good to me (while you’re at it check out Blue Sky Black Death’s take on it yum yum yum yum YUM).

Come out to Isis Restaurant & Music Hall this Saturday, July 11 to see and feel for yourself the emotionalism of RBTS WIN live. Junior Astronomers and AVL’s own EmE support.

Show // 9pm

$7 in advance // $10 at door

My Key to the Kingdom: How I Partied With the Rock Stars at Hangout Music Festival

I’m between worlds, done with lunch and not quite ready to kick it in the sand. The shaded patch of sod that transitions the dining hall to the private beach is perfect for this moment, a complimentary Malibu cocktail in one hand, a swag e-cig in the other. The royal gulf waters crash playfully in front of me; the sun shines so hard I think it might burn out. It’s hot at Hangout today, so I’m relaxing before making my way through the throngs for one of my most anticipated sets.

I should be thinking about St. Lucia and how excited I am to see them after my adventures at CounterPoint last year, but instead I’m playing with visions of standing on the side of the main stage at Foster the People later in the evening, a curious occurrence that I’ve always wanted to experience. Who are those people, and how do I get up there? When right then the band and their merry company roll up, I’m not entirely surprised.

There are a number of pale, young, dark-haired musicians wearing Ray Bans here, so when the rambunctious troop plunks down at the oversized chessboard station it takes me a minute to decide if that toothy handsome devil hovering by the palm tree is indeed frontman Mark Foster or not. When I notice he’s pairing his beach threads with white patent leather loafers, I don’t waste another second. I get up to introduce myself.

hangout mark foster

Mark Foster. Photo by Nina Westervelt via nylon.com

I didn’t envision all this a few weeks ago. The plan for that weekend was to go back to the earth–not the stars–at Kinnection Campout, a small intentional gathering right here in the Asheville area. My pals BomBassic were booked for a prime Saturday night set, and most of my crew was going to support them and some other regional artists over an intimate weekend in the midst of Blue Ridge beauty. But my intention took a sharp turn when Marley Carroll informed me he got booked to play a DJ set at Hangout, the rowdy, beachside festival in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He waved the lineup in front of me, all shiny and beautiful with the likes of Future Islands, Phantogram, Beck. My indie pop-loving loins burned.

After discovering this would be my last opportunity to see some of these bands on their current tours, I made the decision to attend. Little in the way of plans were made, though it all fell into place when Marley secured me an artist wristband so I would have access to the artists themselves, as well as the mad comforts and perks. My heart soaring, I went straight to the closet to prepare my outfits. I was going to hang the fuck out.

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Ballin’

We arrived at festival grounds late Friday night to get our credentials and the lay of the wonderland. Headliners Foo Fighters were already on, but my senses were on overload and there was no time for Dave Grohl’s sloppy, five-minute introduction to “Big Me.” I had to pee.

Naturally I searched for the nearest port-a-potty, but the only place in sight was the “VIP” bathroom. I felt an innate wave of reluctance to go in. This place has a sign and actual toilets. Am I allowed? I looked around and realized we were already in the VIP viewing area, having entered from the backstage artist compound. I quickly learned that my glittery, pimp purple wristband would get me a lot farther than some toilets.

Saturday morning I had time to kick around before Marley’s 12:30 set. Back in the artists’ area I was greeted by a well-presented breakfast buffet in divinely-decorated air conditioning. Outside, a smattering of others lay serenely on the beach or sipped morning cocktails in the shade. Aside from my inability to operate the fancy fruit fork in there, I felt at home.

As comfortable as this was, I had shows to see! I slung my CamelBak over my shoulder and skipped down to the beachfront tiki tent to take my place for Marley’s set, which was–surprise surprise–fantastic. His indie house sensitivities weaved effortlessly with an undercurrent of hip-hop and hip-ripping African rhythm, an hour-long wave designed specifically for the environment. And when I found myself trancing out to his original “Woodwork” between the ocean and some hot bitches in patriotic bikinis, I knew Jesus loved me. My blood rushed.

We had a break before Future Islands, a rising synthpop band we were both looking forward to, so we stopped for some chill time in the VIP pool next to the main stage. A metal fence divided the general viewing area from the raucous pool, where people who could afford to drop hundreds and even thousands of dollars on this weekend were afforded the privileges of separatism not even imagined in festival culture a few years ago. The discovery of the free beer bar tickled us both to bits, but at the same time we noted how sad it was that the general population were paying out the nose to get even remotely tipsy, only to sweat it out immediately under the intense heat.

I don’t regret the power I had to luxuriate, and at minimal expenditure at that, but it is clear that the swelling popularity of high-profile, corporate-sponsored mega-fests serves to reflect the growing divide between the everyday person and the financially fortunate, not reconcile it. As the chasm widens, the creative power structure tilts, and as these things tend to go, the sacrifice of the original intention will be railed against.

But when life gives you lemonade, you drink the shit out of it.

Sunday would be my jam. I woke up and prepped myself for eternal sunshine.

I ran into Jean-Philip Grobler of St. Lucia early in the day. I launched into my re-introductions, reminding him of our interview last year, but he convincingly remembered me. It probably helps that I was wearing the exact same loud, pink & teal lycra dress. We discussed their new album and an exquisite electro house band called Goldroom, whose set I stumbled into first thing that morning. Life is pretty.

Supercutie Jean-Philip of St. Lucia. Photo by Nina Westervelt via nylon.com

St. Lucia’s midday show was a highlight, though overly intense due to the raging sun and a couple of douchebag dudes who got even more lame when I asked to hit their joint. (ATTN: BROS AT SHOWS, when a cute dancing girl wants to smoke your weed, you say yes. You just do, weirdos!) They must never get laid. But St. Lucia laid it all down, the core songs from their debut When the Night sprinkled with some exciting new material. Fuuuck yes.

Afterward I went to kick it backstage until the evening. Crossing the patio I was charmed by a production assistant who mistook me for Sarah Barthel from Phantogram (dat hair), a few delicious seconds I savored before I had to deny it. That’s when Foster’s people showed back up, once again obnoxiously taking over the chessboard. Plastic cups and compostable plates soon littered the area.

The key band members weren’t hanging around at this point, but I joined the others to observe the boisterous chess match. I displaced a couple of warm beers from a chair and was immediately welcomed with a quick clean-up of the space by one of the unknowns. I lit a cigarette and had just gotten into my chaw groove when a violent check move sent a 12-inch knight sailing across the board and into my planted foot.

I clocked my throbbing ankle. “Owwwww,” I whined as my sunglasses met my assailant’s, a black-haired boy too cute for his own good.

“Oh, did I get you? I’m so sorry! Want a cigarette?” The sincerity of his apology coupled with the helpful cleaning guy warmed me, and I wondered if I hadn’t misjudged these excitable kids.

“Is it an American Spirit?” I hoped aloud, though I still took the Camel Crush he offered. Later in the evening that total babe would gift me an amethyst because “every beautiful girl needs a beautiful crystal.” That’s how it’s done, dudes and bros.

I’m climbing the steps to the stage, my heart fluttering. Turns out my wristband is my purple ticket to that coveted side-stage viewing I envisioned. Easy enough. The band is well into their first song, and I snuggle up close to the row of people already lining the railing. I will sing in their ears and dry hump them until they squirm away. I don’t care who they are; I will be on that railing.

Mark Foster has changed into beachy white jeans, his subdued dynamism complementary to the high physical activity of the percussionists behind him. For a band whose meteoric rise was born from that overcooked hit “Pumped Up Kicks,” these guys really have it going on.

It’s troubling though; I soon start to think how in certain ways it kind of sucks to stand up here. The sound is shit because the speakers face the audience (sound slut here), and there’s limited dancing room. But somewhere between my finally reaching the front of the railing and “Call It What You Want,” a song that makes me think of my son at home who is a big fan, I lean over and take a full drink of the scene before me.

Thousands of people raise their hands above their heads, clapping together to the collective beat, and during the last song I have a complete view of the armada of life-size beach balls that surges into the pulsing crowd. It is indeed an honor to witness this spectacle from the band’s perspective. I am on top of my world.

Starting around 1:00 you can see me up there in my pink & teal dress + white headscarf:

When it was time to pry myself away from drinks on the beach with Skrillex’s tour manager and go close out the weekend with Beck, I knew exactly where I would be standing. In the motherfuckin’ crowd.

You may recall I saw Beck last year here in Asheville, but this show was a whole other beast. The crush of people wanted one last good party, and the band made sure we got it. A setlist low on songs from last year’s halcyon album Morning Phase, Beck himself seemed genuinely thrilled to rock through his 20-year-old hits as well as playful, scorching takes on fan favorites like “Debra” and a 10-minute combo/outro “Where It’s At/One Foot in the Grave.” What. A. Joy.

Photo by Nina Westervelt via nylon.com

But those festival organizers were not playing around when it was time for everyone to GTFO. Once the band left the stage, even the artists’ lounge shut down, and several of us who tried to get back there for one last hurrah were crudely denied, our royal passes just another accessory after closing time. I launched my gratitude into the culminating fireworks show, Beats Antique’s Tommy Cappel whooping next to me.

With stars in my eyes and sand everywhere, I slogged back to my shared condo where I blended back into the eclectic crowd. There I was just another strange girl in a sea of strangers, squeezing out a few more good times on the beach before the inevitable drive home. And when the morning sun swept its golden tongue over the turquoise waves, I smiled to myself. I know I did what I came to do. I saw some incredible shows and took a big bite of the loftier life in music. And it is just my taste.

 

 

Marley Carroll in a Hammock Haven: An Intoxicating Mix at Highland Brewing

Photo by J Smilanic

Photo by J Smilanic

For a company that specializes in laying your ass out in outrageously comfortable hammocks, Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) knows a lot about parties. The festivities at Highland Brewing last Friday proved that.

As part of Highland’s (apparently months-long) 20th anniversary celebration, the brewery and ENO teamed up to host the July 11-12 events, parties to punctuate Night Flight, a four-mile race that benefits the Asheville Parks & Greenways Foundation. Now, I don’t know about any of that because I don’t run unless it’s to catch a plane or a concert, but yeah, I’m always down for hammocks + drinks + music. So when I pulled into the parking lot and the sprawling ENO Lotus Lounge unveiled itself before me, I knew I was exactly where I belonged.

The grassy area behind the brewery is just pleasant as can be. There’s an outdoor bar on one end of the field serving a handful of choice Highland beers, but silly Sally that I am, I go for the faceless white wine. The Lotus Lounge stretches its petals out, hammocks of every color strung between them; the kids dart under and around them like ants disturbed from their magnetic march, crawling over each other to snag any available part of parachute material as if it were all covered in honey. Anyone and everyone I want to see in this moment is here. I smoke mad cigs in processing how lovely it all is; the midsummer air is still thick and hot as the sun slips toward the horizon. A forest surrounds us.

Of course, my attention quickly falls on the guy in the DJ booth at the center of the lotus: local producer Marley Carroll. His familiar dark blond head bobs up and down to his beat, which for the time being is not much more than a general funk/pop playlist to please the masses. But I’m excited for what’s to come because I’ve just recently seen him at the Asheville Music Hall 4th of July show. And in combination with fellow locals BomBassic and Canadian producer Elaquent, it’s the hottest Asheville electronic show I’ve attended maybe ever.

As the night wears on and the kids exhaust themselves and their parents, Marley’s set moves deeper into his true style. I am posted under a lotus petal in front of him, dancing madly in the psychedelic lights, meeting his eyes from time to time because, I admit, I am way turned on. He begins to peel off originals and remixes, his transitions seamless, his (literally award-winning) scratching expertly sensitive.

Marley’s flawless fusion of heavy house beats and minimal, liquefied glitch makes his particular sound remarkably original and lush. Densely-packed layers of sound operate off one another, some stomping, some tapping, some swimming in open water. My body moves all the while, celebrating every molecule of this moment with ultimate conviction.

So, I just bought his album SingsYou can look forward to that review because it’s, oh, only blowing me away.

Big-ups to Highland Brewing, ENO, and Marley Carroll for the satisfaction. You will all be seeing me again. Bwahaha.