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Class of 2017: Mungbean

In pursuit of this year’s class, we originally courted the mysterious Turtle Island—a quirky, scuffed band of psych misfits making tunes akin to locals Way Yes or Animal Collective. It was a group full of stoned minds and big, bright, ephemeral ideas traipsing through the boundless world of electronic music. But after several emails, I’d [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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In pursuit of this year’s class, we originally courted the mysterious Turtle Island—a quirky, scuffed band of psych misfits making tunes akin to locals Way Yes or Animal Collective. It was a group full of stoned minds and big, bright, ephemeral ideas traipsing through the boundless world of electronic music. But after several emails, I’d come to find out that Turtle Island was a band in name only and was soon to dissolve. Those kids faced a gauntlet of “artistic differences” and were confused as to exactly which direction the amorphous quintet would go. Their intent was utopian and ultimately, never meant to be.

Good thing Mungbean has a similar vision.

Originally a duo formed by Turtle Island guitarist Sean Gleeson and vocalist Emma Swysgood, but now a trio with the addition of former Turtle drummer, Joel Blaeser, it was pure happenstance that Mungbean stood as a branch that was just as whimsical and creative as the band we searched for from the beginning. Instead of rising from ashes though, Mungbean is more like new roots, taking the gasoline-rainbow pop of Turtle Island and bathing it in blossoms of Balearic beats and slick Technicolor.

But still, the relatively young Mungbean is embryonic and in an amorphous form that is always shifting, starting with a template of dance music (or at least according to iTunes). In reality, much of what Mungbean has done since the beginning is work started with Swysgood and Gleeson composing on acoustic instruments, or sketches on synths, then fleshing them out into atmospheric workouts. Even in the transition from their first, slightly primitive single in July of last year to the elegant flow of the recently released “Night Drive,” you can hear them evolving, becoming a new band with each step.

“Our approach is almost always different,” says Gleeson. “Right now, I’ve got this great drum beat and I’m trying to just build a song from that. Most of the time we will just track idea onto idea onto idea, and then start stripping off of that because by that point, there’s too much going on.”

Swysgood talks in metaphor about the music, likening their process to that of a quilt.

“Especially now, when you look at a quilt you see so many colors and styles and ways that things are stitched together,” says Swysgood. “But you have to take it all in at once, there’s emotion and energy spilling over.”

Swysgood had a brief stint in the Worn Flints, a band where she didn’t truly have a creative role, something that’s not an issue in Mungbean. Her voice alone—a breathy hybrid of Bjork, Enya, and a jazzy Sade-esque contralto—is distinctive enough on songs like the new “Waking Up” and “Strings,” that she becomes a focus of melody and virtuosity in the music. The trio, though, are collaborative to the nth degree, with each member circulating the Midi tapping in patterns, and creating an analog versus digital dynamic to the songs.

As such, influences run the gamut—from Caribou to Grimes, hardcore and the National—and the band is almost embarrassingly current, referring to a recent pilgrimage seeing The XX as “transformative.” But to their advantage, Mungbean has few local contemporaries and they’re too inventive and arranged to be opening for laptop EDM entrepreneurs.

“We like a lot of music,” says new drummer and former Turtle, Joel Blaeser. I think that’s why we like doing singles right now, because we are still feeling out our sound. We haven’t settled down or been consistent to one genre.”

“Electronic and dance are such blanket terms and belong to such a huge universe, that it’s kind of nice that we can orbit that.”

So, I encourage the group to think of one while I buy the next round.

I return and there are still shrugs and smiles. Youth not wasting youth for anything futile like a genre tag.

Those are positive vibes for sure, it’s infectious and it pulsates through their music. May I suggest “posivibes” Mungbean? Feel free to use that.

For music and more information visit mungbean.bandcamp.com.

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Music

Local rocker Angela Perley shines on solo debut

Mike Thomas

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Folk, alt-country, or indie rock—however you choose to categorize her sound, Angela Perley remains a pillar of the Columbus music community—and highly in-demand as a national touring act, to boot.

(614) caught up with Perley to discuss her new album, life on the road, and what it takes to make it as a musician in the Capital City.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

(614): YOUR NEW RELEASE, 4:30, IS YOUR FIRST AS A SOLO ACT. WHAT LED TO THIS CHANGE?

AP: Since 2009 until last year, I had the Howlin’ Moons. It’s always been myself, Chris Connor on lead guitar, and then we had bassist Billy Zehnal in the band up until last year. We’ve had a rotating extended family of drummers. Billy’s not in the band anymore, and we were also on Vital Companies, which is a studio/label in Columbus that did our previous albums.

https://open.spotify.com/album/04pKByd2ygDHXdvl1TcdWP?si=6njCmRpfR5GRWe5kLNghVw

So this one—it’s a solo one, it’s my first independent release. There’s no label involved, I own the masters to the songs. It’s hard to keep a band together, so Chris, who’s been in the band since the beginning, and I, we’re kind of the only members, and we have an extended family of really great and talented people who have other projects they’re in. It just works a lot better with what I want to do.

YOU USED KICKSTARTER TO HELP FUND THE ALBUM. WHAT WAS THE CROWDFUNDING EXPERIENCE LIKE?

Before, with Vital, they had a studio and video production, and they took care of all of our recording in-house. We didn’t realize how expensive everything was. We had paid for studio time [for 4:30] through show money, but to look at all of the other expenses of making a record happen and trying to get it out there, it’s pretty intense! There have been a lot of independent artists that we know that will do Kickstarters, and I’ve never done anything like it before, so I was really nervous doing it. But it was a success, and I actually just finished sending out all of the preorder vinyl that people ordered.

YOUR SOUND IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS ANYTHING FROM AMERICANA, TO ALT-COUNTRY, TO PSYCHEDELIC ROCK. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITHIN THOSE TRADITIONS IN 2019?

You kind of have to make your own path, because although there is a resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll, everything’s been done before. It has those roots, but we’re not breaking the mold or anything. You just have to be true to yourself and to the music, and just go from there. Everyone’s voice is important as an artist, so that’s important to remember.

YOU’RE ON THE ROAD TOURING QUITE A BIT. DO YOU STILL KEEP TRACK OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COLUMBUS MUSIC SCENE?

Columbus is definitely growing, and moving toward doing things independently. I’ve seen a lot of bands touring, which is good. It’s an affordable place to tour out of, and there’s a community here for sure. Whenever I have a chance, we go out to the shows. We love The Cordial Sins, and we’re having them as our special guests for our album release. The High Definitions, Souther—there are just so many good bands.

When I go to other cities and I realize that there’s not really much of a scene going on, it is kind of cool to see that in Columbus, people are very aware and supportive of musicians. Even the businesses around here, everyone’s trying to work with musicians in some way. There are so many gigs, be it at breweries, at restaurants, or little festivals that pop up. There’s work for musicians here. And some other cities, there’s really not.

IN THE PAST, YOU’VE PLAYED SOMETHING LIKE 150 SHOWS A YEAR. ARE YOU KEEPING UP THE SAME PACE THESE DAYS?

I’m glad that we played that many shows at that time. We were playing anywhere and everywhere, and a lot of that was pressure financially. If that’s the way you’re making a living, you’ve got to take every gig. We’ve spread out the shows since, especially since we have been doing it for this long. We’re kind of gearing more towards quality shows. I will say, playing that many shows—I needed that. We needed the experience, and just the repetition. Every venue is different, every environment, every crowd. You cut your teeth and it makes you stronger.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LOCAL ARTISTS HOPING TO MAKE A CAREER IN MUSIC?

It’s tough, because for each person it’s so different. Getting out there and working hard, playing as many shows as possible—that's all really great experience. But also focus on the music itself. If you’re going to make a music video or a recording, take your time—don’t half-ass it. Wait until you know what you’re doing. Although, you kind of have to learn from your mistakes, too.

Catch Angela Perley with special guests The Cordial Sins on September 6 at Skully’s Music-Diner for the release show of her new album, titled 4:30.

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(614) Sessions

614 Sessions: Doc Robinson

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg&feature=youtu.be

Doc Robinson, the collaboration of Columbus music stalwarts Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea, joined us for this session in the 614 offices to share their unique brand of "Backyard BBQ Breakup music."

While here, the duo played stripped-down acoustic versions of their songs "Wilderness" and "Wild Beauty."

To hear more from Doc Robinson, follow them on your streaming platform of choice, or visit https://www.docrobinsonofficial.com/

Be sure to catch the group at Woodlands Tavern on Saturday, September 21, when they'll be joined by Hebdo, Parker Louis, Honey and Blue and many more for their Family Jamboree.

Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5O0efDEpkqEmWbXD2zpkjz

Apple Music:
https://music.apple.com/us/artist/doc-robinson/1116027164
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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper, Mike Thomas
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley
Video Editing: Mike Thomas
Contact: [email protected]
Website: 614now.com

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(614) Sessions

(614) Sessions: The Turbos

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ThYK1D0000

The Turbos’ high-octane heroics have earned the group a fierce following in the Columbus rock scene and beyond. Combining shredding guitar virtuosity with soaring, anthemic vocals, co-frontmen Alex D. and Lucas Esterline lead the group in a sound that combines the best of the old and the new. Rounded out by the multi-talented Cameron Reck on bass and mononymous local music veteran Jahrie behind the kit, the Turbos are leading the charge for a new generation of rockers.

For the first of what we hope will be many in a new music series we're calling The (614) Sessions, The Turbos joined us in our offices for a stripped-down acoustic set. Despite leaving the electrics at home, the power of their performance was still enough to garner multiple noise complaints (sorry, neighbors).

For show dates and more, be sure to follow The Turbos on Facebook. Big thanks to the group for sharing their music as our first-ever guests in this new endeavor!

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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Mike Thomas, Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley Video
Editing: Mitch Hooper
Contact: [email protected]

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