Soundchecks: Blockhead, Big Yen, Pierce Alexander, Loudness War

Live music to catch this week


  • Provided

w/ Arms and Sleepers, IL:LO
Sun. Feb. 16
9 p.m.
$15/adv., $18/dos.
Pour House

NYC producer Blockhead is most often referred to as an "instrumental hip-hop" producer, but as with most genres, that description doesn't quite fit. Blockhead occupies a space somewhere between electronic dance music, ambient soundscapes, and hip-hop beats, mixing them with little or no regard for classification. On his new album, Bubble Bath, Blockhead immerses the listener in sound, practically begging people to throw on a good pair of headphones and dive in head-first. If you're a fan of groups like Thievery Corporation or the Orb, you'll find traces of both in Blockhead's music; he takes grooves subtle and explicit and layers all manner of sounds over them, mixing together icy keyboards, burbling auxiliary percussion, jagged, angular vocal samples, and all manner of additional weirdness, creating soundtracks to films that only exist in his mind. His sound has evolved over 10 albums into something that is easier to experience than it is to describe, but imagine if Kool Keith, the Chemical Brothers, and maybe Daft Punk in a mellow mood all got together and started trying their absolute best to outdo one another. You might get something like Bubble Bath, a deceptively soothing release that has a surreal layer of menace underneath the shimmering surface. Yes, there are certainly traces of hip-hop here; the man knows good beats when he hears them. And yes, this is instrumental music, in that there is no dedicated lead vocalist. But "instrumental hip-hop" doesn't come close to describing Blockhead's kaleidoscopic musical range. —Vincent Harris SUNDAY

  • Gee Peralta

Fri. Feb. 14
8 p.m.
Elliotborough Mini Bar

"Being open about possibilities is crucial." That's what Charleston-based musician and Ohm Radio program director James Frolio says about how he has grown so much so fast. In recent years, he has learned that "there's no one right way to do something, and the work can evolve past your own expectations, into something very beautiful." Lately, he's been creating some pretty powerful music under the moniker Big Yen, which is something of a catch-all name. "Big Yen has been a lot of things," he explains. "It's been a rocking four-piece band, and at times guest emcees have hopped in, and horn players have brought some dance elements." With that said, Big Yen's upcoming record release party will be "an intimate solo performance." That is fitting, given the personal nature of these particular tunes and their importance to Frolio. "These recent songs are about unique and inspiring souls I've met. People are such a trip for me, and everyone teaches you a lesson." Frolio adds, "This EP actually starts with the first song I ever wrote and ends with one of the most recent." He claims to be in a really happy place right now, overall, and it shows. According to Frolio, the Feb. 14 concert will be extra-special — he'll be working from a big repertoire of originals and covers and utilizing both acoustic and electric guitars. "To be honest, it's going to be songs that made a big impact for me in my life and it's also going to be personal. I like artists that share about themselves when they play. After all, music is a form of storytelling, right?" —Kevin Wilson FRIDAY

  • Provided

INDIE ROCK | Pierce Alexander
w/ House of I, John Brewster
Mon. Feb. 17
8 p.m.
Tin Roof

Florida-based psych-rock group House of I will pull into the Tin Roof with indie rock singer-songwriters Pierce Alexander and John Brewster. House of I is an energetic, guitar-driven group that draws from bands like Portishead, Modest Mouse, and everything from "physics to marine biology." They bring a tireless commitment to both their live sets and their psychedelic studio recordings which thrive on a sense of "positive mindfulness," heard on their 2018 EP Alienation. Local indie rocker Pierce Alexander has already had his plate full with live shows in 2020, performed at the Royal American with local favorites like the Mobros and Jump Castle Riot. This show comes at a particularly exciting time for Hilton Head's John Brewster, who will be releasing the first true single of his musical career on Valentine's Day, just three days before he takes the Tin Roof stage. At this point, Brewster's catalog has been limited to live acoustic performances. Fans of Alexander's pensive, personal brand of alternative rock are sure to like what they hear from Brewster during Monday's show. —Alex Peeples MONDAY

  • Raegan Labat

ROCK | Loudness War
w/ Flower Shopping, Kid Lake
Thurs. Feb. 13
9 p.m.
The Royal American

Loudness War, a four-piece rock band from Baton Rouge, La., has something in common with many music fans — they love the Beatles. "We started playing music together in high school and our first show was as an instrumental Beatles cover band," the group says. "We bonded over a mutual adoration of the Beatles, and I still think that's a pretty strong foundation for a lot of what we write." Though the Beatles kick-started Loudness War, the band never stopped searching for their own sound. "I think around the end of high school we started getting into garage rock, punk, stoner rock," Loudness War says. "Something about the music was so visceral and exciting, and it seemed so achievable." Their musical timeline began with the Beatles, dabbled in garage rock, then found footing in a unique, grungy, fuzz rock that demands to be heard. Their new album, Mystifier Deluxe, ranges from swayable psychedelia to unignorable, heavy rock. Convention has been tossed out and replaced with improvisation and roughed out edges, giving birth to a new era of Loudness War. There's a lot in store for the Louisiana-based group, including a new album this year that the band says is "the most off the rails we've ever gone." Live shows are much like the recording studio for Loudness War — loud and high energy, with nothing traditional in sight. —Abrie Richison THURSDAY

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