On Stage: Odonis Odonis stays intense

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Odonis Odonis

Two acts playing at Philadelphia venues on April 19 can induce different dream states. Odonis Odonis can put you on a trail to industrial nightmares while Dawn Landes can make you float away with her soft lullabies.

Odonis Odonis is a Canadian band that has embraced different sound vibes over the years but has always maintained a constant with the intense, aggressive vocals of founder Constantin Tzenos.

On April 19, Odonis Odonis — Constantin Tzenos, Jarod Gibson, Denholm Whale — will bring its electronic-driven music to the area with a show at Kung Fu Necktie (1248 North Front Street, Philadelphia, 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com). The band is touring in support of its new EP – “Reaction.”

Since its blown-out 2011 debut album “Hollandaze,” the Toronto-based trio has continued to push its sound further into the depths of post-apocalyptic experimentation. The “Post Plague” album in 2016 had a foreboding vibe. “No Pop,” which came out in 2017, is a starker, more dance-floor-friendly album.

“Odonis Odonis started in 2011 and ‘Hollandaze’ was our first release,” said Tzenos, during a recent phone interview from his home in Toronto.

“’Hard Boiled Soft Boiled’ was our second album and that came out in 2014 but I think ‘Hollandaze’ was the album that broke us.

“We had a lot of hype on our first record – mostly in Europe rather than in the states. Our label – Fat Cat – was more focused on Europe. I recorded ‘Hard Boiled Soft Boiled’ and ‘Hollandaze’ on my own. I took ‘Hard Boiled Soft Boiled’ to a studio in B.C. and recorded it there.

“Now, we are a trio. I met our bass player in a restaurant when I was attracted to music on his playlist. I met our drummer on Craig’s List. We worked about a year trying to get our live show together.”

Tzenos talked about his early musical influences.

“Ministry was a huge influence,” said Tzenos. “That’s what set it all in motion. I listened to Ministry obsessively. Nine Inch Nails, New Order and the Smiths were also influencing me a lot. And, I listened to Nash the Slash incessantly. After the 90s, other influences kicked in.

“When I moved to electronics with ‘Post Plague,’ I dropped all guitars and the industrial influence kicked in. ‘No Pop’ was 100 per cent electronic.”

Stripping down instrumentation to a handful of synths and an electronic drum kit, the band worked quickly to write and record, bringing demos and improvised takes into the studio and completing the recording process over the course of three days.

The result was a focused blend of hard-hitting industrial, techno, and noise — but each track on “No Pop” is never just one of those elements. Pulsing rhythms lay the ground for textural soundscapes masterfully woven together to create a palpable sense of doom that is thick and satisfying.
Taking its name from the anti-commercial “’No Pop” movement, which infers that there “is no expiration date on music nor is it limited by geographic or regional boundaries,” “No Pop” is raw with emotion and, at the same time, elevated by deft production.

Odonis Odonis continued in the same direction with its “Reaction” EP, which was just released on April 12.

Drawing on EBM (electronic body music) and industrial influences, “Reaction” finds Odonis Odonis further refining the sound it forged on “No Pop” — noisy synths saturating the sonic space and cutting with sharp, bruising rhythms. The EP was written while the band was touring to support “No Pop.”

“We recorded the new EP in 2018,” said Tzenos. “It’s been an ongoing thing. After the ‘No Pop’ tour, we started playing all the tracks live. We recorded all our practices. The quality we were getting from those recordings was pretty good. A lot of it just unfolded during 2018 in a very casual way. We didn’t pressure ourselves to do recording. It was pretty simple and painless.

“We already had some some road-testing when we were making ‘No Pop.’ On our first three records, we didn’t do that and then found out later that some songs didn’t work live. This time, we found out what works live before we recorded them. That’s why the songs on ‘Reaction’ have a visceral effect on people.

“In our current live shows, we’re plying stuff from ‘Reaction,’ ‘No Pop’ and ‘Post Plague.’ We don’t play any of the older stuff because those songs were more guitar driven.”

Video link for Odonis Odonis — https://youtu.be/paEJSRZKEWc.

The show at Kung Fu Necktie, which has Public Memory as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Other upcoming shows at Kung Fu Necktie are Baby’s First Rodeo / Mark Lanky Farewell Show on April 18, Murphy’s Law on April 20, Crude S.S.

April 21, Unwed Sailor on April 22, and Ufomammut on April 24.

Dawn Landes

On April 19, Dawn Landes will perform a two-set show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Great Stair Hall, Main Building, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, www.philadelphiamuseum.org). She is touring in support of her new album “Meet Me at the River” and her even newer children’s EP “My Tiny Twilight.”

“’My Tiny Twilight’ is a kid’s album,” said Landes, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in Nashville.

“It’s coming out on Mother’s Day. It’s a six-song EP and the first single – ‘I’m Your Mama’ – was released two weeks ago.

“I wrote these songs right after my daughter Callan was born. I was going through a time alone with the baby. I’m a non-stop person so it was a real transition going from an independent person to being a parent. It was very life-changing.

“When you have a really young kid, you spend a lot of time staring into the world. I couldn’t sit down and write but I could sing. So, I’d sing to my baby. Some were just functional songs. For example, I’d play piano until she stopped crying. Some songs are just musing on the new universe of being a parent. Being a parent is harder than I ever imagined. But, it’s the best ‘hardest.’

“I recorded the EP in Nashville at Joe Pisapia’s studio. Joe played guitar, pedal steel and bass on the EP and my husband Creighton Irons played keyboards. I played guitar and sang. We made the EP about a year ago.”

Late last year, Landes visited Philly for a show at the Locks at Sona and the focus was on “Meet Me at the River.”

A self-described “Nashville record,” “Meet Me At The River” was produced by Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster (Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Kris Kristofferson). 

“The album came out in August,” said Landes. “I’ve been living in Nashville for two years now. Before that, I was living in New York for a long time.”

Only sporadically producing for friends like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price, Foster produced “Meet Me at The River” and it was the first time that Foster has taken on a new act in years.

“I recorded the whole record in Nashville,” said Landes. “One of the reasons I moved to Nashville was to work with Fred Foster as my producer. He’s got a great CV – and quite an ear. I was lucky to get him onboard because he’s mostly retired.

“Unfortunately, Fred just recently passed away. The album I did with him was his last recording.

Landes was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and Branson, Missouri, and spent years in New York’s music scene, where she cultivated her musical gifts not only through performing and songwriting, but also through learn-by-doing production work that eventually led to co-owning a recording studio.

She first established herself in the New York indie music scene as a recording studio engineer. At the same time, she was starting to develop a career as a performer – a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist in New York’s “Fast Folk” community.

“I’m a recording nerd,” said Landes. “I love the ins-and-outs of production. I wanted to make a record that sounded like classic Nashville.

“At first, Fred thought I was just a singer coming to him to look for songs. Each meeting, I’d bring him my songs. He gave me some assignments to cover songs. Eventually, I won him over as a writer. That’s what kick-started it.

“I wrote or co-wrote 10 of the songs on the album. Two are two arrangements of Jimmy Driftwood songs. The whole project took about two years. The album was mixed the day my daughter Callan was born one-and-a-half years ago. After she was born, I took some time off before I went out on the road again. I did a lot of touring in summer 2018. I spent three weeks doing shows in Europe.”

The 12-song collection on “Meet Me at The River” features some of Nashville’s most acclaimed musicians, including Eddie Bayers, Charlie McCoy, and Bobby Wood. 

“The difference between this and my previous albums is that this is getting labeled as country,” said Landes, who had four previous albums. “That hasn’t happened before. Previously, I was labeled as folk and indie rock.

“This is a country album. It has a great country producer and wonderful Nashville session musicians. We recorded it here in Nashville at Sound Emporium. It’s the ‘Nashville Sound.’ That’s how they do it here.”

Video link for Dawn Landes — https://youtu.be/ibw8RNiDybI.

The show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art will start at 5:45 p.m. The show is free with museum admission – adults, $20; seniors (65 and over), $18; students and youth (ages 13-18), $14; children (12 and under), free.

Foals

Fans of the British band Foals have been waiting a few years for a new album from the London-based quartet.

Foals, which features Yannis Philippakis, vocals, guitar; Jimmy Smith, guitar; Jack Bevan, drums; and Edwin Congreave, keyboards, released “What Went Down” in 2015. Now, the wait is over.

Foals, who are headlining a show at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) on April 20, are touring in support of their new album, “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1.”

“The big gap between albums was because we were touring ‘What Went Down’ for so long,” said Smith, during a phone interview Wednesday evening from a tour stop in Washington, D.C. “Then, we took a seven-month break and charged our batteries.”

Foals, who had their start in Oxford, have announced that they will return with two new albums in 2019 — “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1” and “Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2.” The albums are separate but related. They share a title, themes and artwork. “Part 1” was released on March 8 and “Part 2” is set for an autumn release.

“We started working on the album in September 2017,” said Smith. “We did a bit of writing in Oxford and then went to a studio in South London – in Peckham where we all live now. I was the last one to move from Oxford to Peckham and that was three years ago. We recorded it at 123 Studios in Peckham.”

123 Studios is one of South London’s top recording studios. Set up by Producer/Engineer Brett Shaw (Florence and the Machine, Foals, Lady Gaga, Robyn, Daughter, Clean Bandit), the studio is located next to Peckham’s Bussey Building in one of London’s most exciting new creative developments.

“Brett Shaw engineered the record,” said Smith. “We had a lot of songs ready to record but we used a slightly different approach. Normally, we do all the writing first. This time, we went back-and-forth into the studio. We booked the studio for a long period of time and it definitely became a workplace. We recorded the whole thing in alive set-up. For the first time ever, we completed 18 songs. Normally, we’ll release a record with 10 songs. We had way more than that and we thought they were all too good to leave out. We tried to do one really long album but that was boring. It’s hard to have an attention span to listen to 18 songs. So, we decided to do two albums.”

According to Philippakis, “They’re two halves of the same locket. They can be listened to and appreciated individually, but fundamentally, they are companion pieces.”

Foals then had to decide which songs went where.

“It was obvious that we had two intro tracks – and two outro tracks. We shifted things around so that the songs fit together well.

“The second album is more of a guitar album. There are more keyboards on the first album. But you can definitely tell they’re related. I don’t know if there was a thread musically but, lyrically there is a thread – a slight apocalyptic theme and concerns about the environment.”

Fans will have to wait to hear any of the music from “Part 2.”

“We’re not playing any songs from the second album yet,” said Smith. “At the moment, we’re focusing on the first album and it’s working well. We go back and play songs from all our albums. We do a long set – an hour and 45 minutes –so w try to have a balance.”

Video link for Foals — https://youtu.be/V6YMCjpfH0c.

The show at Fillmore Philadelphia, which also features Preoccupations and Omni, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $33.50.

Other upcoming shows at Fillmore Philadelphia are Billy Currington on April 18 and Spiritualized on April 19.

Get ready to be walloped by “Ws.”

Who? What? When? Why? & Werewolves?

On April 20, Who? What? When? Why? & Werewolves?  will be playing at waR3house3 (100 Park Ave, WH-3, Swarthmore, www.war3house3.com).

Andrew Fullerton and banjo player Matt Orlando, who make up the core duo of Delaware County-based Who? What? When? Why? & Werewolves?​, have been playing music together for 15 years. Before launching ​the new awkwardly-named project​, they were part of Pennsylvania rock band ​The Tressels​, which released eight full-length albums and gained a serious local reputation before calling it quits after almost a decade.

“When Tressels broke up, Matt was the drummer,” said Fullerton, during a recent phone interview from his home in Media. “Then, he had surgery on his knee and couldn’t play drums anymore.

“He saw Noam Pikelny play banjo with the Punch Brothers at World Café Live and said – I gotta play banjo. Matt is great at everything – drums, banjo and sports. He went to Springfield High and then played lacrosse at Ursinus College.

“We had kind of a front porch jam set up and decided we should do a show. I booked a show without a name at the North Star Bar in 2016. Then, we came up with this horrible name. It’s impossible to Google. But out of stubbornness, we’re just going to keep it. We just go by ‘6W’ – there are two Ws in werewolf.”

The band had its start and was ready to grow.

“After that, we met Pete Clark, who is a great fiddle player, and we got better,” said Fullerton, who graduated from Upper Darby High – a school that also produced Tina Fey, Jim Croce, and Todd Rundgren.

“For the most part, we were doing Tressels songs and then started to develop our sound. Matt and I started singing together more. We get confused as brothers. We model our vocals after the Everly Brothers. We had a fiddle player and then added a bass player – Brian Grabski. After a while, we had enough songs and we went in and made a record.”

The band’s debut album, “Greatest Hits,” was self- released on March 29 and is billed as “a collection of stories about everyday people who always have an interesting story to tell.”

“We recorded the album at The Head Rock Studio in Kensington in the summer of 2018,” said Fullerton. “We went in with the basic idea of what we wanted to do and then added drums and piano. If you make a bluegrass record with an indie rock group, you get this weird hybrid of bluegrass-influenced indie.

“I grew up listening to 90s indie rock and I’m very interested in American music history. I really like John Prine, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt – 70s guys who were storytellers. Other influences were bluegrass acts like Flatt & Scruggs and Doc Watson. The more we get into bluegrass, we’re finding that it covers all ages.”

Video link for Who? What? When? Why? & Werewolves? – https://youtu.be/9ejzyLC6zNU.

The show at waR3house3, which has The Minor Adjustments as the opening act, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Todd Sheaffer

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present Todd Sheaffer (Railroad Earth) and Licking Down Doors on April 19, Jane Lee Hooker with Rob Perna Jr. on April 20 and Arlen Roth Band on April 24.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host an “Open Mic Night” on April 18.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present Olivia Swenson, Liz Greene, and Juliana Danese on April 19.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host Garaj Mahal on April 18,

Dumpstaphunk with special guest The Heavy Pets on April 19, and Friends of the Devil’s Lettuce with special guest Cris Jacobs on April 20.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents “Jesus Chrit Superstar” from April 18-20 and Tesla on April 23.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) hosts Tommy Castro & The Painkillers on April 18, The Land Of Ozz (Ozzy Osbourne Tribute) on April 19, The Strawbs Electric & Acoustic on April 20, Martin Barre Celebrates 50 Years Of Jethro Tull with Clive Bunker & Jonathan Noyce on April 21, and Carbon Leaf on April 24.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present “One Night  of Queen” on April 18.

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) hosts its monthly “Comedy Night” on April 18 with Julia Scotti and Chip Chantry. The show starts at 6:30 p.m.

This is the final weekend for the Candlelight’s production of “Curtains” with shows scheduled for April 19 and 20.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings with doors at 6 p.m. and show at 8 p.m. Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $63 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

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