Brite Futures
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Brite Futures

Seattle, Washington, United States | MAJOR

Seattle, Washington, United States | MAJOR
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"iMusic: The Winter of Our Discotheque"

Is anyone else out there having as much fun as Brite Futures on their album Dark Past (Turnout)? Previously known as Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (really!), Brite Futures hasn’t lost their sense of humor in the course of the name change, a fact that is immediately obvious on dance beat driven opener “Baby Rain” about “how you make a baby.” “Kissed Her Sister” details twin trouble and “Jag In A Jungle” is such a pure dance party anthem it’s bound to make LMFAO jealous. Ditto for “Best Party Ever (So Far).” The “black light fantasy” of “Cosmic Horn” sounds like it owes a debt to the B52’s, while “Black Wedding” will have you checking your mailbox for your invitation. - Baltimore Out Loud


"Brite Futures - Dark Past - CD Review"

Oh, the perils of being a buzz band with a catchy name in the aughts. A few years ago, the cutesy teens in Natalie Portman's Shaved Head slid out of Seattle on the hot pink shoulders of robo-bounce kinda-hit "Me + Ur Daughter" and the cheap intrigue of a ridiculous moniker. The carefree electro-pop act eventually shortened its name to the less-than-tongue-rolling NPSH — apparently the actress wasn't pleased with the attention — and got bogged down in some old fashioned Major Label Turmoil (MLT, if you will). They finally parted ways with Warner Bros. last year, and the disconnect from the label also brought a separation from Portman's sexy bald scalp. Now as Brite Futures, their instant-dance-party debut picks up where NPSH's Glistening Pleasure left off — the cheeky lyrics are smarter than you may at first realize (they might even be genius), the nu-disco is as glossy as ever, and the sound bops around squealing synths and bubblegum beats. Lead track "Baby Rain" is a double-dribble electro romper with tradeoff blips and cowbell, whereas "Kissed Her Sister" is an indie-rock frolic that would make Brooklyn blush, with lyrical gems like "She's kinda punk but she likes the Kinks and Queen/Gossip Girl, and fashion magazines." Latest single "Too Young To Kill" is the band's "Stacy's Mom," a potentially classic sugar-pop explosion with a euphoric refrain of "Make it a club hit/We can all dance to/We don't give a shit what it's about." The deft lyrical skills that Brite Futures harness in attempts to appear shallow is a clear strength, and though Dark Past's title is a reflection on their bizarre early career and music-biz battles, the present looks pretty rosy.

Read more: http://thephoenix.com/boston/music/132903-brite-futures-dark-past/#ixzz1kWH0WmLH - The Boston Phoenix


"Bumbershoot 2007: Natalie Portman's Shaved Head"

I arrived for Day 2 of Bumbershoot 2007 eager to catch my first scheduled act of the day: Seattle's own Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, a five-piece band I sadly missed (but ChrisB caught) at Capitol Hill Block Party. The band were also the first runners-up at this year's illustrious EMP's Sound Off, an all-ages battle of the bands competition that has spawned some of Seattle's best bands over the years (Schoolyard Heroes, the Lonely H, Idiot Pilot, and the late-great Mon Frere, to name just a few). They've been on my must-see radar awhile, so I made sure I got to Bumbershoot on time for their noontime performance. And oh my. What a performance it was!
I can't believe it took me so long to go see them play.

Natalie Portman's Shaved Head epitomizes everything that is youthful, exciting, and fun about music. Their effervescent electro-pop songs positively electrified the full house at the Sky Church with a buoyant energy that made them a pure joy to watch (and listen to).
They reminded me equal parts of United State of Electronica meets early B-52s (co-vocalist Claire England certainly contributed to this thought) meets the Osmond family (okay, my pal Martin suggested that last one, but I think the comparison is apt, in a weird way). And most of the dancing jubilant fans dancing along were younger than the band members -- I'd have placed the average age as too young to drive. This gives me hope for the future. Natalie Portman's Shaved Head is what kids and teenagers *should* be listening to, versus the Hannah Montana Disney-pumped crap and the tarted up Fergie supa-crap Bumbershoot was serving up later that night (aside: NPSH professed their love for Fergie, so my apologies to them for slamming her in their review. Though they also said they used to live across the street from her and stare in her window, which I'm pretty sure isn't true... so who knows?)

But don't think the musical ability of the band members suffer for their youth, replacing actual musical ability with enthusiasm. No way. They had the musical chops to substantiate every bit of their mirth. Their songs were well-crafted, the band had great live instrumentation (keys, guitar, and drums) that augmented the electronic beats, and all their vocal harmonies were spot on, making their repertoire of (all original, I think) songs really robust -- I'd even say, mature beyond their years. That is, mature in a giddy, shake-yer-ass-onstage and bop along sort of way... which is, um, my favorite sort of maturity.

And did I mention the outfits? The band sported fantastic matching duds: white jeans, white baseball sleeved shirts with different color arms on each performer, and (the best part) contrasting colored FRINGE under the sleeves.

All in all, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head was one of my favorite Bumbershoot 2007 moments, and definitely was my favorite pleasant surprise.
- Three Imaginary Girls


"Watch & Listen: That's So Hot"

Watch & Listen: That's So Hot!
Filed under: Listen To This

This has got to be one of the best band names ever.

Say hello to Natalie Portman's Shaved Head.

We are LOVING these kids from Seattle, Washington and their kickin' electro beats!

Super fun. Super camp. Super ridiculous. And, they have quite a way with clever titles.

You must Click here to watch the psychedelic video for Natalie Portman's Shaved Head's Sophisticated Side Ponytail.

Swoosh!!!!

- PerezHilton.com


"Record Reviews"

Excellent band name, top-notch album title, pleasing CD graphics, and cute kids wearing whimsical outfits. Yes… Yes, I think I’m on board for this. The songs are in the styling of all these new neon-electro bands like CSS, but they’re funnier (shades of Gravy Train!!!!) and the songs are surprisingly catchy. I dunno, man, sometimes you just have to stop being a cynical fuck and let yourself be entertained by a cute song called “Sophisticated Side Ponytail” that namedrops Shamu.

MEG SNEED - VICE Magazine


"Natalie Portman's Shaved Head Album Review"

Some bands dare you to love them. Or at least like them, or vaguely approve with shrugged shoulders. From the band name to the album name to the cutesy hipster photos on the inside of the CD package to the songtitles -- "Sophisticated Side Ponytail," "Holding Hands in the Shower" and others -- Natalie Portman's Shaved Head figure to sound like they'd be somewhere in between the people trying to get into a DFA dance party and their twee cousins wishing they could be like them. Though in the end the most accurate and inevitable comparison point are fellow Seattlites United States of Electronica -- there's the same air of exuberant ‘Party! A lot! Yeah!' feeling to them, though less Xanadu-style disco and more giddy synth-pop/new wave sass, something that the arrangements and distorted bass and keyboard shimmers do nothing to counteract. With that as the baseline the quartet acquit themselves swimmingly; if they're not going to challenge the heights of Dare they're working nicely within that line of descent, and songs like "Me and Yr Daughter" aim for a knowingly snarky good time, with references to hitting the town, self-proclaimed ‘art fags' and goofy romantic situations shot through with melancholy abounding. The downside is that most of the songs follow the same general template -- good for unity of purpose, not so much for showing range within their style, though as a result songs like the power-pop kick of "Bedroom Costume" and "Hush Hush" do make more of a mark, the former benefiting from a wonderful instrumental break. Meanwhile, the fact that there's a song all about beard maintenance somehow just seems so emblematic of the time and place that it's an instant nostalgia trip -- which might well be the point (doesn't hurt at all that it's one of the best songs on the album to start with). ~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide - Billboard Magazine


"A sound that's turning heads"

With a nod to '80s dance rock, young Seattle band Natalie Portman's Shaved Head crafts sassy electro-pop

By Luke O'Neil, Globe Correspondent | August 8, 2008

It may just be the short attention span of the modern, multitasking teenager, but on its debut, "Glistening Pleasure," the Seattle band Natalie Portman's Shaved Head delivers a surprisingly mature songwriting effort. Over 13 hyper-stylized, electro-pop tracks, the group teases out more melodies, thoughtful shifts in tone and style, and cutting lyrical precision than a lot of serious-minded indie-rock bands manage in a career.

It's an everything-at-once approach you can credit to inexperience, says singer Luke Smith, who recently gathered around a speaker phone with the rest of his multi-instrumentalist bandmates (whose ages range from 18 to 21) to talk to us before the onset of their first national tour.

The album is a refreshing departure from the usual droning, monotonous approach to dance rock. "It originally came out of not really knowing how to write a song," says Smith, who brings his band to Great Scott tonight and then to the Roxy tomorrow night for a show with the Go! Team and CSS. "We were like, 'Ah, this is getting boring. We need to write a new part.' "

On "Me Plus Yr Daughter," the dance hit of the summer, there are enough melodic riffs and hooks to power at least three singles from a less-ambitious band. Ideas come and go throughout the song like friends stopping in at a party, then disappear before you know it.

"We try to pack in as many melodies as possible and change it up a lot, as opposed to a straight repetitive style," says Smith. The song itself is a bittersweet blast of sassy disco with New Wave keyboards and dirty guitars that drip and sweat like melting eyeliner; it's both achingly romantic and arch at once.

Not that this is contemplative headphone music. It's the exact opposite, in fact. Most of the candy-coated, retro-leaning dance-floor bangers here are about - what else? - hooking up, hanging out, fashion, and partying down, with all of the attendant social calamities and minor melodramas you expect from contemporary hipsters. And while the stories are told with the requisite ironic distance of a generation raised online, it's such a whirlwind of in-jokes and razor-sharp sarcasm that it almost goes full circle back to earnest. Like that name, for example. "Basically it all started in our senior year in high school," remembers Smith. "The blogs were abuzz with news about Natalie Portman shaving her head. We were in class together and we had to pick a team name for a game we were playing, and we chose Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. We just rolled with that with our little band that was forming at the same time."

You might call it camp if it seemed a fraction less sincere.

"There's definitely a fine line in a lot of our songs," says Smith. "A lot of it is quite sincere, or at least comes from a genuine place."

"A song that sounds like the most insincere song can be the most sincere," adds Shaun Libman. "Beard Lust," for example, is a wacky, old-school hip-hop goof with a surprising sense of poignancy about the perils of impending manhood. "It comes from the most innocent place," explains Libman. "I was trying to grow facial hair for the first time, so we wrote a song about it. [Keyboardist] David [Price's] rap about [not being able to grow a beard] is completely real."

It's another song that calls back to the '80s, echoing a Run DMC-style rap. Not that the band really pays attention to that sort of thing. "It's kind of funny when people say we're an '80s band. I didn't even realize this was '80s music," says Smith, who literally wasn't around for the inception of his genre of choice.

"It's funny, music hasn't really changed all that much from back then," he says of the band's dance-forward approach. But he's glad that dance rock is back in full swing after the downcast years of the '90s. "I think people were just tired of being so serious all the time," he says. "I know I am. Sometimes you just want to have fun and not think about what's going on."

Their idea of fun? "We try to pass out onstage if we can," jokes Price.

That's not so easily achieved, but they've managed a couple times so far. It's a bit harder for most of the underage band members who can't legally drink. "That's why we try extra hard!" says Price. "We've had some people pass out at our shows before. It's kind of a competition between us and the audience."

Dancing all night, passing out, then dancing some more? All in a day's work.

"That's how we know that things are going right," says Libman. "When people are dancing. It's the way you have a connection with the audience. It's like a dialogue between us and the audience - the language of the dance!" - The Boston Globe


"Natalie Portman's Shaved Head and Glistening Pleasure"

You have a pretty good idea what you're getting into here
By TONY SCLAFANI
published: July 16, 2008

'Keep it strictly on the dance floor/Otherwise what's your booty for?" asks this electro-retro Seattle dance quartet on "Iceage Babeland," one of the catchier tunes off their full-length debut. The members of Natalie Portman's Shaved Head are barely out of high school and consequently have little in the way of self-consciousness—their name might've given that away. So they brazenly concoct a sound that summons up the brittle dance sounds of 1980s synth-pop and the freewheeling spirit of disco, though hip-hop phrasing and an ironic presentation keep this from being mere revivalism. The songwriting could be sharper, though, as Glistening Pleasure is as lopsided as a New Romantic haircut: Think Le Tigre or the Go! Team with less melodic flair.

The good news is that they never forget to keep the "fun" in funky. Lead singers Luke Smith and Shaun Libman can veer from Britpop crooning to Bee Gees falsetto with complete abandon; the call-and-response vocals they scatter in songs like "Beard Lust" and "Side Ponytail" are absurd in a B-52's sort of way. Clare England's fizzy synth bass helps the band avoid dance-rock clichés, as does the unobtrusive production by Lance Abair (father of smooth-jazz saxophonist Mindi, incidentally). Altogether, NPSH are at their best when they grab you with both concept and chorus, as on the leadoff cut, "Me + Yr Daughter," and the jumpy "Hush Hush." So far, they're good at making us wanna get down tonight, though you definitely can get enough of this.


- Village Voice


"Seattle Slackers: Natalie Portman's Shaved Head"

CSS's favourite band begin work on their fun-filled debut LP

We got to watch Lovefoxxx show Simon from Klaxons the tattoo of his name that she had just gotten done-- it was the cutest thing any of us had ever seen" says Luke Smith, ringleader of Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, reflecting on the gig the two bands played together after firing up a friendship through MySpace.

"We were pissing our pants with excitement before the show," admits the singer. "CSS were like major idols of ours at the time and we were freaking out at the thought that they wanted to play a show with us. I can't remember much of the gig but we ended up losing at least two pairs of pants. It was messy."

After their initial attempts at being an acappella electronic band failed, the teenage Seattle five-piece turned to drum machines and synthesizers to better match their aims of making floor-filling beat bangers. They soon had paired their awkward electro thumps with pop vocals, and subject matter ranging from fruit snacks and sexual promiscuity to plastic surgery.

Last year saw the release of their jaw-slackingly great debut "Secret Cursh," and EP of codified party music, layered with and air of distinct menace. Recorded in their school gym and released through a crude mail order operation set up in Smith's basement, it's since sold out, prompting the band to begin work on a full-length effort set to be released this summer. "It's as preoccupied with hover cars and supermodels as world peace," says Smith.

Attracting more fans than the Shins and Wu Tang at Seattle's Bumbershoot festival remains their loftiest achievement, and one which they plan to repeat as soon as possible. "People from our old school showed up to see what the big deal was," says Smith. "We live for those surreal experiences. The crowd screaming along to every song, us screaming it right back at them, it's like the circle of life-- we just want to share it with as many people as possible."

ANDREW FENWICK - Dazed & Confused Magazine (UK)


"The Glistening Return of Natalie Portman's Shaved Head"

The enormous swarm of 15- to 16-year-olds gathered in front of the Vera Project two weeks ago should have been a hint that I was about to see something special. The night's show was the first from local dance quintet Natalie Portman's Shaved Head in six months, and their young fan base was more than fired up to see them back.

Walking down the stairs into the sold-out venue, I immediately felt a little bit out of place. It looked like a middle-school cafeteria, all energetic buzz, swelling voices, and sporadic movement. NPSH's goofy and ridiculously catchy songs about growing beards and the sexual frustrations of being a teenager seem to attract the youngest, most excited crowd of any band in the city. It takes a unique situation for me to start feeling old at 19, but this after-school special of a show was getting the job done.

As the lights went out and NPSH took the stage, it was like someone had just started a food fight—cafeteria chaos. It wasn't 15 seconds into the band's opener, an extended rock version of "Slow Motion Tag Team," before the crowd had knocked almost all of DJ Deathsquad's turntables and mixer setup onto the floor, to be trampled underfoot. Luckily, nothing was broken, but it set the tone for a raucous set.

NPSH are a far different band than they were when they left off half a year ago. They've undergone voice lessons to improve their range, and it shows. The last time I saw the band, keyboardist Claire England sang with an outrageous Riot Grrrl croon on her solo song "Sophisticated Sideways Ponytail." It wasn't pretty, but it felt genuine. Now, she and the rest of the band sound like polished pop cherubs. The set, like their forthcoming debut album, Glistening Pleasure (due out in July), sounded almost too good. Songs like "Staying Cool," which boasts the most brain-burning guitar melody I've ever heard, will get stuck in your head until you want to cry, but the whole show seemed just a tad over the top.

Of course, it's no problem if I think NPSH should have their own Disney Channel show, because that's exactly what they're going for. They set out to write a glimmering pop album, and when Glistening Pleasure drops this summer and the band take their act out on the road with CSS, I'm sure the kids will be flocking to them in droves.

Casey Catherwood - The Stranger


"Le Diamant Brut: Natalie Portman's Shaved Head"

What's the Deal: Get ready for bright colors, white jeans and outrageous fonts because this Seattle dance pop troupe brought the drum programming, guitars, hand claps and plenty of keyboards. Their debut CD, Glistening Pleasure, comes out July 15th, and as you can imagine, it's all about fun and not taking yourself too seriously. It's the kind of dance party music that gives you an excuse for doing all those moves you practiced in your room but never had the guts to unleash on the dance floor, and if you're lucky you just might do something you'll really regret in the morning when the synthesizers have worn off. Let the synthetic beats and laser beam sounds in and lock the doors because it's going to be a long night.

"Beard Lust" off NPSH's Glistening Pleasure is like a twisted, ridiculous electro pop version of a public service announcement about facial hair upkeep. 80s key tones buzz and chime while they sing "Where'd you get that beard? I grew it. How do you keep it so clean? I shampoo it." Sounds like international mustache day has a new anthem.

Something Interesting: You might just be lucky enough to catch them on a few tour dates during July and August with CSS.

Other Tracks Worth Checking Out: "Slow Motion Tag Team" and "Me + Yr Daughter" - Austinist


"Live Reviews: Natalie Portman's Shaved Head [...] Mercury Lounge, New York, NY - 01.27.09"

Filter Grade: 90%
by Ken Scrudato | 02.02.2009

We need more comedians with guitars on stage as much as we need a widespread outbreak of dysentery (actually, we need it less than that). Irony was once a creative tool—now, thanks to those insufferable clowns in Weezer, entire careers are built on its miserable little foundations.

The very name of Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head reeks, let’s face it, of a little too much irony. But we caught their show recently in New York, and behold!—they actually seem to be crossing a threshold, whereby they’re actually mocking the ironists (postmodernism continues apace, apparently). They trendily raid the over-raided post-punk closet (music and wardrobe), but if they don’t actually really love all it, then count me fooled. And the lyrics (“Sophisticated Side Ponytail” for instance) aren’t as ironic as they are genuinely condescending.

The closest conceptual description would be that they’re a disco Thrill Kill Kult, a sort of mad, sneering party on stage, one that you’re free to join at various levels of commitment. But most hilarious was watching a room full of torturously banal hipsters being forced to, well, actually have fun; in fact, after about twenty minutes of their usual studied motionlessness, a few of them could no longer resist responding to the music, and their awkward, agonized attempts at dancing were up there with watching Dubya get a shoe hurled at his hollow little head.

NPSH do nouveau electro-disco with such enthusiasm, abandon and cheek, that you’d probably have to be in Cannibal Corpse to not appreciate them. With enough melodic whomp to match Orange Juice, enough stylization to match early Spandau Ballet, and a mastery of disco-pop that might see them even rival the Pet Shop Boys, I wondered how it could be that they all looked like they’d barely hit puberty. In fact, in all their charming new wave frippery, the band are collectively cute as a button; yet they flailed around onstage to wildly turbulent tunes like “Malibu High Life” and “Me + Yr Daughter” as if they were about to tear the stage to pieces.

Yes, they’re tight, cute, clever, and, well, frenetic enough to even force hipsters to have to shake their groove thangs. Watch out.

[...] - Filter Magazine


Discography

Dark Past (November 1, 2011)
Dog Eared Summer single 2010
Glistening Pleasure 2.0 (July 2010)
Glistening Pleasure (July 2008)
Secret Crush EP (June 2007)

"Dark Past" has spent 8 weeks in the CMJ Top 200, peaking at #49.

"Glistening Pleasure" spent 6 weeks in the CMJ Top 200. In it's first week, it was #11 most-added on college/public radio. In their third week, the record jumped to #62 on the charts. At least 51 stations charted the record in their top 30.

Photos

Bio

"Natalie Portman's Shaved Head epitomizes everything that is youthful, exciting, and fun about music." -Three Imaginary Girls

On first listen to Brite Futures’ fiercely catchy new album, DARK PAST might seem like quite the misnomer. Dubbed “punk rock Abba disco Osmonds with chainsaws” by the Seattle-based quartet itself, the album’s synth-happy mix of New Wave, rock, funk, and dance music packs all the boundless pep of a hyperactive kindergartener on a never-ending sugar high. But tune in closer to these ten tracks and you’ll soon hear the pain behind the pop.

“The title DARK PAST is a half-serious reflection of the tough times we went through over the past few years,” says guitarist Luke Smith, referring to the band’s split with Warner Bros. Records. The epic and rousing “Black Wedding,” for instance, addresses the aftermath of extricating themselves from their contract with that label and reveling in the freedom to make the kind of music they wanted again. And while the opening track “Baby Rain” sounds playfully dirty with its double entendre lyrics, it’s actually a pep talk Luke and vocalist Shaun Libman wrote to themselves about finding confidence in the songwriting process and telling the haters to fuck off.

Still, DARK PAST is first and foremost a party record, a freewheeling funfest that “should be played really loud, with lots of people around,” according to Luke. Brimming with brilliant moments (a lovingly stolen Beatles melody on “Too Young To Kill,” bassist/keyboardist Claire England’s turn as a dancefloor-dominating lead vocalist on “Black Wedding,” lyrics that reference The Kinks and Gossip Girl in the same breath, and the occasional face-melting guitar solo), the album challenges the notion that irresistible pop can only be peddled by solo artists propped up by big-name hitmaking producers. “Why can’t a band do it?” asks Luke, who also produced the album. “Our music is pop for people whose intelligence is not fed by the mainstream, but who still love to dance and have fun. We love to see people dance, it’s such a pure form of expressing joy. But we’re not relying on the same old ideas about ‘the club’ and ‘the DJ.’ We’re trying to fill a void in pop by having a bit more wit and being a bit more cheeky, but also having more lyrical substance.”

Indeed, DARK PAST remains heartfelt even on the sauciest of songs (including “Kissed Her Sister,” an unfortunate tale of a band member accidentally macking on his girlfriend’s twin, and “Cosmic Horn,” a Studio 54-conjuring rave-up complete with instruction on winning the loyalty of a girl who thinks she’s in love with everyone). Elsewhere on the album, Brite Futures tackle matters of the heart with a striking vulnerability (“Tell It To Me,” for example, sweetly captures that awkward period in a relationship before someone says “I love you”). “All the songs are about emotions we’ve experienced,” says Shaun. “And when the lyrics aren’t directly about events that happened in our life, the emotions still come from someplace real and are sincerely felt.”

It’s a nice evolution for a group that started out in such a casual way. The members of Brite Futures met in film class at Seattle’s The Center School, an arts-focused institution located under the Space Needle. Restless one day during their lunch period, Luke and Shaun came up with the idea to launch an a cappella electronic band, “because we couldn’t play instruments,” Luke says. After realizing they sucked at beat-boxing, Luke hauled out an old drum machine and synthesizer he had borrowed from a friend. By the end of the day, they had composed two songs (one about fruit snacks and the other about a party), which they sent around to their friends. “Soon our classmates were singing them in the halls,” Shaun says. “We had 60 friends on MySpace and thought that was really awesome.” Film class pals Claire England and David Price were invited to join the band, which they called Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (inspired by the actress’s appearance in V for Vendetta).
Though NPSH never expected to perform beyond their high-school talent show, the band saw its popularity grow as they began to play live. What began as a few die-hard fans coming to every show turned into hundreds of kids lining up around the block. The band even took second place at the Experience Music Project’s Sound-Off competition in 2007. In 2008, NPSH released their self-produced, self-distributed album Glistening Pleasure, which was met with enthusiastic reviews (The Village Voice wrote that the group “brazenly concoct a sound that summons up the brittle dance sounds of ’80s synth-pop and the freewheeling spirit of disco”) and soon attracted the attention of the major record labels. NPSH signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records, which agreed to re-release Glistening Pleasure with a few new songs.

However, the band and Warner Bros. Records had different ideas about NPSH’s artistic direction and the two parties mutually a