Culture Collide 2012 Preview

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You gotta love Los Angeles…the perpetual summer allows for an extended Festival season.

For the last few years, Filter’s Culture Collide Festival has given us one last shot at seeing fantastic bands from all over the world in one fell swoop for an extraordinarily pocketbook-friendly price.

And this year’s line up is arguably the best and most varied line-up they’ve put together.

Since the idea is to expose us to independent artists from all corners of the globe, a bunch of these artists will be discoveries for any and all of us…so, on any given day you are bound to be surprised and my find your next very favorite band ever.

But, in the interest brevity, I’ll give you a short list of sure fire acts who I’ve either seen before or whose albums are SO GOOD it’d be foolish to not make sure to check them out. Ok. Here we go.

John Talabot (Spain)

Earlier this year, Barcelona-based producer John Talabot released his first full length LP, fIN, on Permanent Vacation. A moody blend of experimental electronic and more traditional house sounds, he’s created one of the year’s most slept on masterpieces. Minimalist and spacious, while being exquisitely melodic, it achieves an undefinable yet pitch perfect balance.

So will be now… (feat. Pional) by John Talabot

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (NZ/US)

Last year, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s debut record seemingly came out of nowhere, like a shot in the dark. However, they are from somewhere…New Zealand and Portland. The disparity between those places and the inherent weirdness of those places (no offense) has borne a catchy, lo-fi psychedelic sound with a strong  backbeat. Super stoked on how their newest track, “Swim and Sleep (Like A Shark)” sounds like The Association produced by Phil Spector. Can’t miss this.

Niki and the Dove (Sweden)

Playing with a deep throbbing electronic tribalism that is easily likened to Kate Bush, Fever Ray or Bat For Lashes, the Swedish duo Niki and The Dove build impressive labyrinth-like mini-epics that deserve a lot more credit. The combination of vocalist Malin Dahlstrom’s impressive vocal range (which give her words a growly and cooey quality that is really unique) and Gustaf Karlof inspired synth and programming layers result in a gauzy, dreamy sound that is familiar, but is it’s own thing altogether.

After repeated listens, I’ve become a believer in this thing.  “Mother Protect” is damn near perfect pop weirdness.

Mother Protect by Niki & The Dove

Laetitia Sadier (France)

I’ve always had it bad for Laetitia Sadier ever since I watched her lead Stereolab through a mind blowning set on a small stage in the Dining Center of my tiny liberal arts college some 18 odd years ago.

She is a fantastic talent and performer, and she’s recently released her second solo album “Silencio“. Several years on, she seems less focused on innerspace and her space-age kraut-pop leanings have matured into a more haunting, spare sound that is focused on and inspired by the current climate of protest.

Laetitia Sadier -There is a Price to Pay For Freedom (And it Isn’t Security) by freisolin

Bonde Do Role (Brasil)

In the interest of FULL DISCLOSURE…I love this band. By which I mean, I am in love with each one of this bands members.

Like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the members of Bonde Do Role; Gorky, Laura, and Pedro are some of the funniest, charming, and sincere people I’ve ever met. On stage however, they become something else. They become Brazil’s “finest,” (by which I mean craziest, loudest, nastiest) party band.

A hurricane of twitchy third world high end, rumbling booty bass low end and a seemingly endless stream of supercharged sexual energy that comes across perfectly even though it’s in Portuguese. I promise you a good time. Also, you’ll fall in love with one and/or all of them. Promise.


Since I’m being confessional, I haven’t spent enough time with this record. Despite that fact, DIIV (pronounced Dive) is by all accounts the one to watch.

A few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend at the Echo asking me why I wasn’t there seeing them. Instagram and Twitter were all ablaze with excited DIIV info. Now, I am perpetually catching their new record, “Oshin“, out of the corner of my eye at friend’s apartments, record stores, and cars. They’re performing at Culture Collide. It must be a sign.

— Mario Cotto