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LIVE REVIEW: White Hills, Loppen, 14.04.2015

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

My first visual experience of White Hills, probably shared with a majority of the audience at Loppen, was their appearance on the Jim Jarmusch vampire flick, Only Lovers Left Alive. In a scene towards the middle of the movie, the leather-clad vampires are being serenaded by the band in a grungy venue in Detroit. When the set ends, someone asks Tom Hiddleston’s character if he wants to meet the band, and is answered with an emphatic negative. The reason is evident enough: the band looks fictional–bassist Ego Sensation sporting a tight, ruby red outfit and see-through bass, and frontman Dave Weinberg writhing around in a 70s polkadot shirt, the spitting image of Alice Cooper–, cannot sustain itself under the harsh scrutiny of the daylight world.

But this evening’s encounter on the borders of reality is worth it. White Hills’ latest LP, Walks for Motorists, quite apart from having a fantastic title, is also a satisfying evolution in the band’s explorations of dark psychedelic rock. As if to acknowledge Jarmusch’s endorsement, Ego and Dave have added elements of goth and no-wave into the mix.

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Spirit of the space age, Ego Sensation

Perhaps the most obvious of these influences can be witnessed on album and set opener, “No Will”. Its riff is lifted wholesale from legendary goth-rockers Bauhaus’s single, “Dark Entries”, and the chant of “No will!” matches perfectly the “Dark entries!” chorus. But in spite of these musical appropriations, the tone of many of these tracks, particularly evident in Dave’s vocals, is more akin to Killing Joke, full of sexual aggression. All these elements are reconfigured to fit the long-form space-rock of White Hills, resulting in something I’ve been referring to as stoner-goth.

In a gig setting, songs from different albums tend to approach uniformity, particularly within this genre. I could try enumerating the songs in sequence, but to do so appears a little fraudulent. There are of course exceptions, like the aforementioned “No Will” and the Swans-esque “Wanderlust”, but to experience a band like White Hills is to abandon a sense of time for the duration of the gig. Instead of listening to a song as a series of discreet sounds in sequence, one tends to perceive the music as a series of shifting and modulating textures.

By the end of the set I am elated that the band has not collapsed in front of me in a dust of rock and roll archetypes. We have climbed up White Hills, and have returned safely. My only regret is not bringing sunglasses to the gig.

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PHOTOS: White Hills, Loppen, 14.04.2015

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

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PLAYLIST: Here Today’s Concerts – April

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We have updated our “Here Today Concerts” playlist.

The Twilight Sad (Loppen, 03.04.2015)

The Twilight Sad has just released their fourth studio album, Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, to raving reviews.  Drowned In Sound wrote:  “The Twilight Sad gave birth to one of the greatest British debut albums in living memory. That was in 2007 and just seven years later they’ve given us an indication that they could attain greatness on a par with MBV or The Jesus and Mary Chain. Hell, carry on like this and we’ll be comparing them with The Cure.” Sounds like a band you want to hear, right?

Eyehategod (Loppen, 07.04.2015)

Wearing earplugs to an Eyehategod show is as effective as wearing a bulletproof vest to a catapult festival. As veteran purveyors of sludge metal, the New Orleans outfit grind out blood-encrusted songs that fall on the exploding end of the noise spectrum. Their music is the sound gravity makes with a limitless supply of anvils and anchors, the spectacle of which will be well worth the price of admission.

Kate Tempest (Vega, 13.04.2015)

The obvious reference point to Kate Tempest debut album Everybody Down is the Streets’ second album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free. It is a conceptual album that tells the story of three characters battling loneliness in the big city, with each song representing a new chapter; a rather ambitious undertaking which the young Londoner gets away with quite well.

Calexico (Amager Bio, 14.04.2015)

Calexico specializes in music of the soul by sunset, a style and attitude inherent to the group’s home in the Mexican-American borderlands of Tucson, Arizona. Combining the warm acoustic arrangements of country and the brassy orchestration of Mexican folk music, they can get big and loud without being unwelcoming. Their forthcoming album Edge of the Sun is set to release on April 14, the day of their show at Amager Bio. If ever there were a time and a place…

White Hills (Loppen, 14.04.2015)

Psychedelic New-Yorkers White Hills haven’t released much material in the last couple of years, but that hasn’t kept them out of the lime-light. An appearance on Only Lovers Left Alive–a scene in which the vampiric Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddelston and Mia Wasikowska gloomily headbang to the band in a Detroit club–has cemented their reputation as purveyors of far out cool. Loppen is certainly an appropriate venue for a band with the Jim Jarmusch seal of approval.

Grouper (Jazzhouse, 21.04.2015)

Having listened to Ruins, Liz Harris’ latest album as ambient act Grouper, it’s difficult to picture exactly what kind of performance she will put on at Jazzhouse. How do you haunt a stage the way that album haunts the mind? Undoubtedly with the aid of smoke and mirrors. Even if all that means is a bit of dry ice and some mood lighting, the aural component is smoke you can’t blow out, a mirror you can’t turn away from.

Moon Duo (Stengade, 22.04.2015)

If the East Coast psychedelia of White Hills isn’t enough for one month, Moon Duo are coming to Copenhagen to represent the West Coast. On the back of their latest critically-acclaimed album, Shadow of the Sun, the Duo will be kraut-rocking through Europe, leaving behind them a trail of burned rubber and broken speakers.

Colin Stetson (Jazzhouse, 22.04.2015)

Stetson’s New History of Warfare trilogy, recently completed, has gone a long way in redefining the capabilities of the saxophone. Thanks to circular breathing techniques and microphones inserted in strange places, Colin Stetson has turned the usually jaunty sax into an instrument of bleak and violent landscapes. Eerie pulsations and terrifying screeches are the order of the day, and we look forward to experiencing them in Lynchian environment of Jazzhouse.

Screaming Females (Loppen, 28.04.2015)

Actually there is only one female in the New Jersey Punk outfit Screaming Females, Marissa Paternoster. Even though she is tiny, she fills the stage in a way that stops the question “why are they called that then?” popping into your head. Her powerful vibrato and brutal guitar work is hard to match. Their 2012 album Ugly was recorded with Steve Albini and gained praise with publications such as Pitchfork. On their new album Rose Mountain the band explores new territory which results in a more refined sound which holds great promise for the future.

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