Better than Atari shoegaze

Tycho (left) mystifies and Paper Pistols guest guitarist Jesse Paulk-Damiani grooves during the first ever Sacramento Electronica Music Festival.

Tycho (left) mystifies and Paper Pistols guest guitarist Jesse Paulk-Damiani grooves during the first ever Sacramento Electronica Music Festival.

Photos by William Leung

Our little town(house) is electr(on)ic:
All the music we listen to at live concerts is, by design of the PA system, electronic. A PA reproduces analog (or digital) noises for the audience to enjoy, at full volume. Simple enough.

What defines each artist at the recent Sacramento Electronica Music Festival is that, instead of using electronic devices to merely reproduce existing audio, they in their own way manipulate existing sound material into a new production, and assert their authenticity over the new audio. It’s the digital equivalent of a found poem, in the best sense possible.

Hosted at Midtown’s TownHouse Lounge, SEMF featured headliners Mochipet, the New Humans, Tycho and Dusty Brown over three days. Saturday night blasted off with Lifeliner. Then, a split set between MothSpyEros and Homo Erectus. In between bands, the MookieDJ and DJ Mupetblast mixed tracks for the downstairs bar. Later, Night Night, and then Tha Fruitbat. Two Playa Game filled the following slot while the crowd got down on the checkerboard floor.

And then, Paper PistolsIra Skinner played live drums over a prepared MacBook orchestration. Adding new guitarist Jesse Paulk-Damiani, it is extremely rare that a single metronomic drummer can intensively hold the audience, accompanied by prefab melodies and guitars. This makes P.P. unique, worthwhile.

Sister Crayon then took the stage employing loops, samples, keys, bass, 808-style beats and live drums. Their instrumentations are generally centered on basic pop-song structures, but are polished, produced. A soundscape of triumph and tragedy; Saturday was no exception.

Utilizing two white sheets and a light show to blur his music into a multimedia experience, Scott Hansen appeared as Tycho. Described as ambient, downtempo, IDM, Tycho has separated himself from the sea of electronic artists. He produces a seamless set of continuous breakbeats, samples and light harmonies that left the packed room swaying.

Dusty Brown closed the show with a tight set, compact, hard-hitting. At their best, my favorite song anyways, a low Moog progression complimented with Jessica Brown’s vocals came off something like Massive Attack. The night ended with the three Browns singing together, an “acoustic song,” over the electric guitar. The lights went on, we filed out of the TownHouse and SEMF powered down. (Joe Atkins)

Is this the future of the records store?:
Dimple Records on Arden Way has added yet another impulse-buy product to its register counters this week—and it’s not more incense or Obama-emblazoned cigarette cases.

In an attempt to cater to customers seeking out-of-print albums unavailable in-store, Dimple Arden now uses the “Mix & Burn” service, in which employees can burn an out-of-stock CD, print its cover art and sell it to customers who want to own the music at that exact moment. Customers can also bring in their MP3 devices if they’d prefer to have the records placed directly on their iPods. Or they can go to or, create a mix and then pick it up at the store, while Mix & Burn handles all label and band royalties.

Dimple co-owner Dilyn Radakovitz said that she decided to install Mix & Burn after reviewing how many out-of-print CDs she was special ordering for customers from places like, where prices are often inflated. “It’s disheartening to see what’s not available anymore, and it’s frustrating when customers can’t get what they want when they want. But if it’s on the Mix & Burn, they’ll get it right away,” she said, noting that the Mix & Burn albums are likely to be cheaper than a special-order shipment.

It’s all a big experiment: If successful, however, Dimple may add a DVD Mix & Burn, or expand the service to other locations. (Melanie B. Glover)

Mixing shoegaze and new wave never felt so good:
Beach House’s third full-length album, Teen Dream, follows the Charm City duo’s stunning 2008 sophomore release, Devotion. Beach House expands on its gauzy, thrift-store dream voodoo with equal parts maturity, emotion and sophistication—blending ’90s shoegaze, ’80s new wave and elements of ’70s rock into an album that is effortlessly mesmerizing and perfect. Victoria Legrand’s whimsical keyboard flourishes and cathedral-filling vocals are perfectly matched by the Alex Scally’s shimmering guitar, especially on tracks such as “Norway,” “Silver Soul” and the brilliant “Walk in the Park.” Elsewhere, “Lover of Mine” rides a crest of ethereal bass and keyboard currents that sound like Atari’s Space Invaders descending upon an indie-rock disco. “Used to Be” is a warmer reworking of the 2008 single of the same name, but here the dread has been replaced with cold comfort bordering on joy. The epic “10 Mile Stereo” glides on Sigur Rós-ian synth-and-string swells, while “Real Love” finds Legrand channeling her inner Stevie Nicks over delicate piano and distant percussion. (Tony King)