Friday, August 30, 2013

Throwing Muses - "sleepwalking-1" and "Sunray Venus"

A new Throwing Muses song should be regarded with at least as much fanfare as a new Pixies song. I guess the difference is "sleepwalking-1" is actually good and holds up with the best of the Throwing Muses back catalog. Throwing Muses broke up in 1997 because touring wasn't financially viable, but came back in 2003. Since then they've been pretty silent, but on November 11 they will be releasing their new album, Purgatory/Paradise. Ok, it's not really just an album. In keeping with the tradition of Kristin Hersh's solo work, it's being packaged with an art book. And the album is 32 tracks long. I guarantee not a single one will be as disappointing as "Bagboy." You can listen to the first song, "sleepwalking-1" below. You can also stream a 2nd song, "Sunray Venus," over at their website.

You can FINALLY hear some remastered tracks from The Lemonheads upcoming reissues

Almost a full year ago, Fire Records announced they were reissuing the criminally long out of print first three Lemonheads albums, Hate Your Friends, Creator, and Lick. Since then, there has been virtually no information released. Are there gobs of previously unreleased tracks and/or alternate versions of songs? Or is it just a straight remaster with maybe an extra song on the end? In the day of bands announcing a new album on their website with a link to download that album immediately, a year is an excruciatingly long time to wait. This week, Fire Records posted some of the remastered tracks on Soundcloud, which shows that this is actually happening. Listen to the 5 tracks here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Free EP: Sally Shapiro/Johan Agebjörn Remixes

Paper Bag Records announced the free download of an album of remixes from European dance pop queen Sally Shapiro and Johan Agebjörn. Titled Sweetened, I have no idea how long this will be available for free, but the album has thirteen tracks of remixes, such as Shapiro taking on Young Galaxy and Little Boots.

If you're into remixes and aren't familiar with Sally Shapiro yet, this is a great opportunity to dive in. If you're already a fan of either of these artists, chances are you're probably diving at anything they put out anyway, so go and grab it:

Johan Agebjörn/Sally Shapiro - Sweetened

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

YACHT featuring Marc Maron - "Party at the NSA"

For the most part, I just don't get the current indie dance scene. I'm not saying it's all bad and worthless, I just don't get why anyone cares. Before this song, I've never paid any attention to YACHT. The only reason this song landed on my radar is my obsession with Marc Maron and his WTF podcast. After seeing him play guitar in a Postal Service video, YACHT asked Maron to play on their new anti-NSA song, "Party at the NSA." The song reminds me of Bis mixed with X, which is not a bad thing at all. Including Maron initially sounded like a gimmick to get more press, but Maron is actually one hell of a guitar player. All proceeds for the song go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is leading the fight against the NSA and patent trolls. I might have to rethink my stance on indie dance bands.

First Listen: New Releases for August 27

After last week's deluge, things have slowed down a little bit with the new releases, but it hasn't stopped a few interesting things from dropping this week.

Franz Ferdinand - Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action: If you told me at any point in the last 8 years that I would like another Franz Ferdinand song, never mind album, after things went downhill following "Do You Want To," I would have laughed at you. It turns out that the new album is a stunning return to form, and one that does not feel old or derivative at all. The first time through, it doesn't sound like there's a clunker on the album - we're back to the party atmosphere that the first album and a half or so made us love from them to begin with. I don't know at this point whether I'm grading on a curve, but this is a welcome surprise from a band I had basically written off.

Belle & Sebastian - Third Eye Center: Belle & Sebastian have always been good about compiling their b-sides and rarities, which Third Eye Center is one of. Truly, it's been a long time since Belle & Sebastian's best work were on their non-album singles/EPs, but there are still some decent gems on this compilation that make it worthwhile.

Ellie Goulding - Halycon Days: One of our top dance pop artists sees her second album rereleased in a cash grab format with some b-sides, the fifth official release of her breakthough hit song "Lights," and some decent remixes to go along with an interesting Alt-J cover of their single "Tessellate." For people like me who bought this album when it came out, it's more an irritation than anything and I'm using this more to rant against a dying industry deciding that this sort of format, as opposed to the Lady Gaga-style "here's the bonus disc alone if you'd prefer" release, is acceptable. This is why you're on your death bed, RIAA.

Lucy Schwartz - Timekeeper: I've traditionally associated Lucy Schwartz with a quieter, pleasant singer-songwriter sound. Timekeeper, at least on first listen, feels more immediate and abrasive, but in a good way. There's a lot of different songwriting styles going on here to go along with the more traditional folkish styles. Definitely something to put on your radar if you're seeking something a little different this week.

Dent May - Warm Blanket: I was first exposed to Dent May with his ukulele project, and I always associate that with him even though he's now had two albums to spread his wings into a more pop-singer songwriter thing with lots of electronics. He still sounds like he's channeling the Beach Boys a little too often, but that's not too bad. The album is good, but early on I can't say I like it as much as I liked his previous effort, Do Things.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Deltron 3030 - City From the Rising Ashes EP

Long before Gorillaz stole their thunder, Deltron 3030 were the premier (and possibly only) experimental future hip hop collective. Comprised of Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala, 2000's Deltron 3030 was a concept album that took place in the year 3030. Damned if I knew what the hell was going on, but City From the Rising Ashes EP takes place in 4010. In advance of their follow up album, Event II, City From the Rising Ashes EP is here to remind us when Deltron 3030 blew the shit out of our minds. It consists of 3 songs which feature guest spots by Mike Patton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Smashed). Existing pretty much solely to get us psyched for Event II, the EP does it's job. It's exactly what we want, and you know the best is still yet to come. 

City From the Rising Ashes EP is out now. You can stream the entire EP for free. Event II is set for release on October 1. Head on over to Deltron 3030's website for more info and to preorder the album. Also, check out tour dates below to see if they're coming to your city.

09-08 San Bernardino, CA - San Manuel Amphitheater (Rock the Bells) #
09-15 Mountain View, CA - Shoreline Amphitheatre (Rock the Bells) #
10-08 Boston, MA - Paradise
10-09 Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bowl #
10-10 Washington, DC - Howard Theatre
10-11 Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theater
10-13 Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of the Living Arts #
10-14 New York, NY - Highline Ballroom #
10-16 Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix Concert Theatre
10-18 Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue
10-19 Chicago, IL - House of Blues #
10-20 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
10-23 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade
10-25 Asheville, NC - Mountain Oasis Festival #
11-10 Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Fest #
11-15 Denver, CO - Boom Fest #
# with The 3030 Orchestra

Monday, August 26, 2013

Current Obsessions: Lorde - "Royals"

It's rare for me to hear hit songs these days that aren't cultural touchstones. I went through a week where I heard "Blurred Lines" 8 times a day a few weeks back, everyone heard "Get Lucky," etc. For me to know a song that's on a TV show or a movie these days is rare (Pitch Perfect is a weird movie for me in that regard), and while there's something to having that shared experience, well, I saw Miley twerk it and I think I'm all set.

With that said, I tripped up on Lorde's "Royals" last week, and I am obsessed. I could listen to this song on repeat for an hour and not tire of it. It's a lot like Kimbra in a sense, except I'm nearly old enough to be Lorde's father and this song is more accessible. It's not really alt-rock, it's not really pop music, I don't really know what to make of it, but I do know that it's really, really good. Give it a listen above.

Her EP, The Love Club, is out now. She also has a newer single, "Tennis Court," and her album, Pure Heroine, is due out on September 30 in the States.

The Replacements played their first show in 22 years last night

Unfortunately, I'm nowhere near cool enough to have been able to fly up to Toronto to see The Replacements play their first show in 22 years at Riot Fest, but I wanted to make sure everyone could see the best coverage out there. Slicing Up Eyeballs is putting together an incredible archive of Tweets, pictures, and are piecing together the setlist through videos posted on YouTube. I'm sure you're not even reading this and have already clicked the link.

Don't forget, the Replacements are also playing additional Riot Fests in Chicago on September 15 and Colorado on September 21. Hopefully there will be an actual tour to follow.

John Davis from The Folk Implosion has a new solo album coming out

Lou Barlow's former partner in the Folk Implosion has been quiet for the past 15 years, but that's changing with the October 29th release of Spare Parts, his first solo album. For now, you can check out the first track, "Masoch." It's almost 6 minutes of sparse solo singer-songwriter fare that reminds me of Elliott Smith mixed with Bob Dylan. It contains virtually none of the funky weirdness of the Folk Implosion, so don't expect a follow up to "Natural One." Instead you get reverb heavy vocals, acoustic guitar, and strings for a lush sound. Spare Parts will be added to my already packed list of my most anticipated releases of September/October.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lou Barlow covers Ryan Adams

We love cover songs at If It's Too Loud..., so when one of my favorite artists covers another one of my favorite artists, you can rest assured I'm going to post about it. I'm already in a tizzy over Sebadoh's upcoming album (Defend Yourself, due out on September 17), and Lou Barlow just posted a video on YouTube where he's covering Ryan Adams' "Two," one of my all time favorite Ryan Adams tracks. The best part of this whole thing is that the video is posted on a brand new YouTube channel that Lou started so he could share covers of his favorite songs. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kitten Forever - Pressure

Hailing from the shockingly indie fertile mecca of Minneapolis, Kitten Forever are a new generation of riot grrrl band. The trio of Liz Elton, Corrie Harrigan, and Laura Larson trade off instruments throughout and bring their own blend of punk to a musical style more than two decades in. They are equal parts the sense of humor of Cake Like, the edge of Bikini Kill, and the groove of Death From Above 1979. The 13 songs on their latest release, Pressure, are raw in the best way, but have a sense of melody and songwriting structure almost completely disguised by the distortion and gang vocals. Be Your Own Pet made me feel old; Kitten Forever make me feel downright elderly, but I’ll still head out anytime they venture out to the Boston area.

Check out Pressure on Kitten Forever’s Bandcamp page, and check out the video for “Famous Friends” below.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Body/Head - "Actress"

Kim Gordon's post-Sonic Youth band (a duo with Bill Nace) has finally released a track, and it's pretty much exactly what I expected. "Actress" exists in the land between the SYR series and Evol. It's not pure noise, but it's pretty damn close. That's good for me since I hate most true noise bands and prefer some remnants of a song structure. In Sonic Youth's last few albums, Kim's songs were always the noisier and more experimental of the batch. If "Actress" is an example, Body/Head will be by far the most avant garde of the bunch while SY are on indefinite hiatus.

"Coming Apart" is due September 10 on Matador. Listen to "Actress" below.

First Listen: New Releases for August 20

Biggest new release week since the blog started, and biggest new release week in recent memory, so let's just get to it.

Braids - Flourish // Perish: A confession to start out: when I saw this release listed in this week's albums, I got excited as I thought this was something new from indie rock band Braid. It's not. Braids, instead, is an electronic outfit from Canada that has put out a surprising album that I really, really loved on my first listen. It's got a stark coldness to it that is difficult to achieve, and actually kind of gave me an "Aphex Twin if Aphex Twin was trying to make accessible music" vibe. If this sort of thing interests you at all, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It's really one of the more interesting recent releases.

Travis - Where You Stand: A "hey, remember us" album like none other. Travis hasn't released anything in around five years, and while their most recent album was a return to form after having some questionable releases in the mid-2000s, Where You Stand is interesting more in its overall "yeah, we're here" existence than anything else. While "Warning Sign" certainly jumps out as a highlight, the album seems to be content in embracing the band's more quiet moments. They're far from a Bends-era Radiohead/Morning Glory-era Oasis retread anymore, but it's difficult to find anything special about the album early on.

Tim Easton - Not Cool: I first heard of Tim Easton when Jay Bennett and Edward Burch opened for him when The Palace at 4am was out. He was an interesting rootsy rocker then, and he's continued along that line now with Not Cool, an album with an older feel to it than most of the rest of what I've heard from him. Nothing stands out, but I can imagine pulling this one out a lot for a while.

A$AP Ferg - Trap Lord: When it comes to the A$AP mob, you're going to get something fairly specific. I tend to like A$AP Rocky's stuff (his album could be in my top 10 this year), and Ferg's is interesting in a different way. It doesn't have the same catchy songs that Rocky has, but it's a different feel across the board. This one is likely to be a grower for me if it catches me at all.

Superchunk - I Hate Music: Superchunk is one of those bands that is like a warm fuzzy blanket. I like what I hear, you know what to expect, and there's the occasional song that jumps out at you. I Hate Music would only be made better if they'd get it up on Spotify already.

Mark Kozelek and Desertshore - Mark Kozelek and Desertshore: A pretty stark, confessional album from the lead singer of Sun Kil Moon and a band that includes members of Kozelek's other band, Red House Painters. It's good, but has a very sad tone to it, especially in the song where he mourns the loss of Magnolia Electric Co.'s Jason Molina. Still very good, looking forward to spending more time with it.

The Goldberg Sisters - Stranger Morning: The Goldberg Sisters are, now I have learned, the musical project of actor Adam Goldberg, a classic "that guy." The album is a little more interesting with that nugget of information, but, on a whole, it's more a slow, sometimes-but-not-always interesting alternative rock piece. Nothing about it screams exciting, which might be the point.

The Greencards - Sweetheart of the Sun: Fun fact - I only got into the Greencards in an attempt to try and listen to some music from the Greenhorns, who have the two members of The Raconteurs that aren't Jack White or Brendan Benson. This is a bluegrass band that doesn't excite me the way, say, Punch Brothers do, but it's still very pleasant to listen to and I consider them one of my more favorite bluegrass-style groups. It's been a while since I've heard something new from them, so this is a solid return for me.

Earl Sweatshirt - Doris: On one side we have the A$AP mob, on the other the Odd Future collective. Earl Sweatshirt releases Doris this week and, like the Tyler, the Creator album from earlier this year, I find it to be extremely inaccessable and just a little too weird for my tastes. I get why some people like this, and I get why I don't (when my preferences go more Childish Gambino/Kanye West), but I don't even know what to say about this. Is there a such thing as stoner rap? If so, is this it?

Laura Veirs - Warp and Weft: Warp and Weft is Laura Veirs's ninth album, and first for adults since 2010's July Flame. While the sound is closer to her work on Carbon Glacier than on July Flame, it still comes across as more mature and less stilted (a quality I loved in Veirs's early work). As with all her albums, one listen doesn't come close to helping get to where it's going, and this is a fascinating release in its lack of overall immediacy combined with many of the sounds coming from it. It's different than what I expected to hear from her as of late, that's for sure.

Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe: I didn't know about Julianna Barwick until recently, but the ethereal atmosphere of her new album gives me a lot of fond reminders of Sigur Ros's ( ). It's definitely worthwhile as a background album, but it also works well for more detailed listening with the way she continually loops her vocals into different soundscapes. Definitely the most different thing I've heard this week.

Sarah Neufield - Hero Brother: This album hit my radar solely because Neufield is (one of?) the violinist(s?) for Arcade Fire, and is a solo effort. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's basically an instrumental violin piece with some interesting things going on. More a curiosity than anything else, it's pretty good for what it is.

Also out today is Zola Jesus's Versions, which is not available anywhere I can find to stream, but is a live reworking of some of her songs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Parquet Courts - "You've Got Me Wonderin' Now"

On the heels of last year's pretty fantastic Light Up Gold, Brooklyn's Parquet Courts are releasing a new EP into an already crowded fall schedule. Tally All the Things That You Broke is scheduled for release on October 8. The opening track has been released, and I like it better than anything on Light Up Gold. "You've Got Me Wonderin' Now" is a 2 1/2 minute blast of Sonic Youth meets "California Dreaming." It's super up-tempo and poppy with an absurdly catchy hook, but with blasts of noise and more changes than any song this short has any right to contain. Plus, there's a recorder.

For more information on Parquet Courts, check out their Wordpress, listen to "You've Got Me Wonderin' Now" below, and see them on tour, if you happen to be in Europe or Austin.

AUG 23rd @ Leeds Festival, Leeds, UK
AUG 24th @ Reading FestivalReading, UK
AUG 25th @ Rock En Seine FestivalParis, FR
AUG 30th @ End of the Road FestivalCurated by Boyz II Men, North Dorset, UK
AUG 31 @ Electric Picnic FestivalDublin, IE
SEPT 2nd @ AN Club Athens, GR
SEPT 6th @ Berlin FestivalBerlin, DE
SEPT 7th @ Into The Great Wide Open FestivalVlieland Island, NL
SEPT 8th @ BestivalIsle of Wight, UK
OCT 8-13th @ Austin City Limits, Austin, TX

OCT 14th @ Whelan's Dublin IR 
OCT 15th Melkweg, Amsterdam NL 

OCT 16th @ VERA, Groningen, NL
OCT 17th @ Doornroosje, Nijmegen, NL
OCT 18th @ Loppen, Copenhagen, DK
OCT 19th @ Molotov, Hamburg DE 
OCT 20th @ Venue TBC, Prague, CZ
OCT 22nd @ Bi Nuu, Berlin, DE
OCT 23rd @ Atomic, Munich, DE
OCT 24th @ Tunnel, Milan, IT
OCT 25th @ Marché GareLyon, FR
OCT 26th @ MaroquinerieParis, FR
OCT 27th @ AB ClubBruxelles, BE
OCT 28th @ The Village UndergroundLondon, UK
OCT 29th @ GorillaManchester, UK
OCT 30th @ BrudenellLeeds, UK
OCT 31st @ MonoGlasgow, UK

First Listen: New Releases for August 13

Thank you for dealing with the delay. While you wait for tomorrow's new releases, here are some favorites from last week:

Washed Out - Paracosm: Washed Out might be best known for his song being used for the theme for Portlandia, but those expecting another chillwave piece are going to be disappointed in this album that, on one hand, sounds like nothing else before it, and, on the other, doesn't sound like anything especially compelling. On first listen, it's just kind of...there, and nothing about it stands out. I was hoping for some nice electronica and got something very different, and I'm honestly torn about this album so far.

Glen Campbell - See You There: Glen Campbell recently finished his farewell tour, as he is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. This album is his revisiting some of his most famous or important songs a final time in a more stark, spacious tone. It's a great album, but the shadow of Campbell's illness really impacts one's relationship with the album on a whole. Still, it's interesting to hear a more modern take on songs like "Wichita Lineman," and for a farewell album, this is pretty solid.

Valerie June - Pushin' Against a Stone: Valerie June's debut album is a folksy, bluesy, classic Americana effort that has shot to the top of my favorite albums from this year. I heard "You Can't Be Told" a while back and have anticipated this album ever since, and it absolutely delivers. This should be heard to be fully understood, but the best comparison I can make is a more traditional, more soulful Sallie Ford. Definitely add this to your list.

Scott & Charlene's Wedding - Any Port in a Storm: Scott & Charlene's Wedding are a throwback of sorts to the stilted indie pop of a decade ago with a hint of anti-folk for good measure. I listened to this album once and didn't feel as if I really understood it, but further listens have given me a broader appreciation for it even if I can't figure out exactly where this band is trying to go. Sometimes music can simply be fun, though, and this is a fun album that might tweak the right nostalgia button for you.

We'll be back on Wednesday with the normal schedule!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Late Saturday Songbending

Was just alerted to this YouTube clip of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" slowed down 25%, and now it sounds like something really sad and lonely, but also really, really interesting.

As slow as things can get for us old fogeys on late weekend nights, this might be something to take with you into the evening.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Live Shows - The Nines Festival, Willard Field, Devens, MA 8-10-13

For the inaugural Nines Festival, 10 diverse bands were brought to an athletic field in the middle of a decommissioned military base that has never hosted a music event of this size. It could have been a recipe for disaster. Instead it was a fantastic day of music and arts that will hopefully be the first of many to come.

Upon walking into the venue, I was struck by how much art was integrated into the festival immediately. Installations and dancers were the first thing we came across before we even got into the main area. The main stage was set up right at the home plate of the baseball diamond, which created a fantastic natural line: People could stand in front of the stage on the dirt, while blankets and chairs stayed back on the grass. It probably wasn’t done on purpose, but it was the happiest of accidents.

First up was Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, who were an interesting choice to say the least. As much performance art as they are music, they mesmerized half of the audience and confused the other half with their blend of punk, folk, cabaret, burlesque, and indie rock. Filling virtually the entire stage with as many dancers as actual musicians, they set the tone for the rest of day. There was no better act to open a “music, arts, and discovery festival” than the Army of Broken Toys. The easy comparison would be the Dresden Dolls, but they’ve always seemed to come across a bit too pretentious and serious for me. Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys had none of that, and showed that art can be fun. Their cover of “Paint It Black” sucked me in. Another cover, “I Put a Spell on You,” closed their set with most of the act in the crowd.

Another highlight of the festival was the Stitch Comedy Tent. Curated by Rick Jenkins of The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square, it offered rotating shifts of six of Boston’s upcoming comedians. I saw the first three acts – Ken Reid, Bethany Van Delft, and Erin Judge – all of whom had unique styles and viewpoints. For a stage lacking huge, national names, it was always packed during performances. What started as a way to get out of the sun for most attendees quickly became a highlight of the day.

Shuggie Otis was up next on the main stage. The funk/soul legend, who just released his first album since 1974, battled some sound issues (or maybe just an early set time), but quickly settled into a great groove after a few songs. Seeing a classic artist back on top of their game is always one of the best parts of any festival. For someone without a huge amount of name recognition, he won over everyone that made it out early enough to catch his 2:30 set time.

Next we headed over to the Lucky Cat Stage for Matt Pond. I think most of the crowd expected a singer songwriter, as the vast majority of the crowd planted themselves on chairs and blankets. That seemed unusual, as Matt Pond brought pure power pop in its finest modern form to the festival. Songs like “Hole in My Heart” are hardly blanket and chair songs, but Matt Pond kept the momentum of a great music fest going.

Walk Off the Earth had by far the most people wearing their t-shirts of the day, and I just don’t get it. To me they seemed little more than an internet video combined with Barenaked Ladies 2.0. Apart from their 5 people on 1 guitar novelty cover of last year’s hit song “Somebody That I Used to Know,” they seemed like a less edgy version of Sublime’s more radio friendly songs. I was definitely in the minority, as the rest of the crowd was more energized than they had been all day. This lead to my one true complaint of the festival: If you weren’t enjoying a band on the main stage, there was not much else to do to avoid them. The artist section was right at the back of the main stage area, and it was too loud to really talk to the artists about their work.

After unsuccessfully avoiding Walk Off the Earth, we headed back over to the Lucky Cat Stage for K. Flay. She brought the most energy I had seen of the day at this point, drawing a small but extremely dedicated crowd into frenzy. You never know how hip hop will translate live, and you really never know how indie hip hop will translate live. We’ve all seen shows where the rapper hits play on a computer before starting, or a “DJ” puts on a record and does little more. K. Flay was truly an act to see live, giving it her all with a DJ and live drummer. Her performance brought the closest we saw to a punk edge all day, with songs like “Rawks” and “Starfvcker.” The only odd moment is when she chose to play part of a Drake song in the middle of her own, and do nothing but let the crowd sing along.

Delta Spirit absolutely crushed the main stage. Their albums have always been a little too precious for me, but live they are a beast. It could have because this was a one off show that got them out of the recording studio for the day. The band was thrilled to be performing live, and rocked far harder than the “indie folk” moniker would suggest. Live their songs go from cute to absolute epics that threaten to become stadium rockers. Please go see them live when they hit your town.

Closing out the Lucky Cat Stage was turntable legend Kid Koala. As most “DJs” these days are more adept with their laptops, it was refreshing to actually watch one with mastery of a turntable. I think he sensed the crowd wasn’t used to the art form since he gave a quick tutorial of how turntables worked and explained what he’d be doing before he started. He chatted up the crowd between songs, telling stories behind the mixes, which of his many projects different songs were attached to, and family stories. The best crowd reaction was when he explained he had lost a bet and had to wear his Yo Gabba Gabba costume at 100 shows while performing his song from the show. The toddlers in the audience were in heaven, and so were the grown adults who performed the dance for the song.

As the sun set on the night, Dr. Dog took the stage. Their blend of psychedelic indie-folk was a bit too polished for my personal taste. It wasn’t bad, it just… was. They have an extremely devoted following who drank in every song like it was the essence of life. The longer they went on, the more they slowly won me over. It didn’t make me a fan by any means, but they were adequate enough.

Explosions in the Sky were the perfect way to end the evening. Heavy enough to keep everyone energized but calm enough to let us re-renter reality, they reminded me of early Smashing Pumpkins: Beautiful and aggressive. As the lights of the stage bathed the field in a multicolored hue, you could still gaze at the stars above and the beginnings of the annual Perseid meteor shower.

For a first time festival, it was nearly perfectly run. Next year, as word of mouth spreads, this is sure to become a highlight of the New England music scene.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Murder By Death – AS YOU WISH: Kickstarter Covers

Back in 2012, hard rock/alt-country band Murder By Death started a Kickstarter campaign. One of the offerings was for $1000 a donor could have the band record any song of their choosing. A whopping 15 people chose this option, and now the album is available for purchase. The 15 songs mix the obvious (“We Are the Road Crew” by Motorhead), the fantastic (“Needle in the Hay” by Elliott Smith) and the absolutely hilarious (“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips). For the album, the band adopted a sort of lounge band feel, as evidenced by the album cover. However, at no point do any of these songs come across as jokey. Even songs such as Weezer’s atrocious “Unspoken” and “Just Dropped In” by Kenny Rogers are treated the same as Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs. My personal favorite might be INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” as done by the world’s most evil wedding band.

To get your copy of AS YOU WISH: Kickstarter Covers, head on over to Murder By Death’s Bandcamp. Also, check out their version of “Hold On” below, as well as current tour dates.

  • Aug 22               Durty Nellie's              Palatine, IL
    Aug 23               Fine Line Music Café             Minneapolis, MN
    Aug 25              The Hub Fargo            Fargo, ND
    Aug 27              Railyard Ale House    Billings, MT
    Aug 28              Top Hat Lounge          Missoula, MT
    Aug 29              The Slice         Lethbridge, AB
    Aug 30              Starlite Room              Edmonton, AB
    Aug 31              Republik          Calgary, AB
    Sep 02             Electric Owl Social Club        Vancouver, BC
    Sep 03             The Crocodile             Seattle, WA
    Sep 03             MusicFestNW             Portland, OR
    Sep 04             Dante's                        Portland, OR
    Sep 06             The Independent         San Francisco, CA
    Sep 07             The Casbah     San Diego, CA
    Sep 08             Echoplex         Los Angeles, CA
    Sep 09             The Crescent Ballroom           Phoenix, AZ
    Sep 10             Launchpad      Albuquerque, NM
    Sep 12             Bar Deluxe      Salt Lake City, UT
    Sep 13             Bluebird Theater         Denver, CO
    Sep 14             The Record Bar           Kansas City, MO
    Sep 15             The Outland Ballroom            Springfield, MO
    Sep 17             The Vanguard             Tulsa, OK
    Sep 20             Sons of Hermann Hall                        Dallas, TX
    Sep 21             Fitzgerald's      Houston, TX
    Sep 22             One Eyed Jacks          New Orleans, LA
    Sep 24             Downtown Music       Little Rock, AR
    Sep 25             Hangar 9         Carbondale, IL
    Sep 26             Pygmalion Music Festival       Urbana, IL
    Sep 27             Taft Theatre    Cincinnati, OH
    Sep 29             Reggie's Rock Club    Chicago, IL
    Oct 05             Downtown      Saint Petersburg, FL

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lee Ranaldo and the Dust - "Lecce, Leaving"

As if this fall wasn't already packed with anticipated releases, it looks like Lee Ranaldo has a new album coming out October 8 (a month after Kim Gordon's Body/Heat) on Matador. Last Night on Earth is his first band with The Dust, which features Steve Shelley on drums. From the first track to come out (also the first song on the album, this could an extension of last year's Between the Tides and the Times. It starts off sounding like Sonic Youth relaxing into middle age, and then just as "Lecce, Leaving" sounds like it's winding down, it veers off into interesting territory, with hints of country twang mixed into the wall of noise. As much as I did like it, Between the Tides and the Times disappointed me a bit with it's middle of the road leanings. Last Night on Earth has increased my anticipation.

You can pre-order Last Night on Earth over at Matador's website. Check out "Lecce, Leaving" below, as well as some upcoming tour dates for Lee Ranaldo and the Dust, including some with Built to Spill.

10-08 Hudson, NY - Club Helsinki
10-09 Buffalo, NY - Tralf Music Hall
10-11 Toronto, Ontario - NXNE/Horseshoe Tavern
10-12 Detroit, MI - Trinosophes
10-13 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
10-14 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
10-15 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Social Club
10-17 Iowa City, IA - Gabe's Oasis
10-18 Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
10-19 Lawrence, KS - The Bottleneck *
10-20 St. Louis, MO - The Firebird *
10-22 Nashville, TN - Exit/In
10-23 Asheville, NC - The Grey Eagle
10-25 Brooklyn, NY - The Bell House
11-10 Groningen, Netherlands - Vera Euser
11-11 Hamburg, Germany - Kampnagel
11-12 Berlin, Germany - TBC
11-13 Cologne, Germany - Gebaude 9
11-14 Metz, France - Le Musee De Cour D'or
11-15 Metz, France - Caveau Des Trinitaries / Musique Volantet Festival
11-17 Lausanne, Switzerland - Le Romandie
11-18 Feyzin, France - L'Epicerie Moderne
11-20 Villeneuve D'Asq, France - Festival Tour De Chauffe
11-21 London, England - The Garage (NME Radar Night)
11-22 Camber Sands, England - ATP
11-23 Paris, France - BB Mix Festival
11-25 Poitiers, France - Confort Moderne
11-26 Tours, France - Temps Machine
12-06 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
12-07 Vancouver, British Columbia - The Biltmore Cabaret
12-08 Seattle, WA - Barboza
12-11 San Francisco, CA - The Chapel
12-13 Los Angeles, CA - The Echoplex
* with Built to Spill

Ad-Rock and Mike D collaborate with Yoko Ono

I've never gotten the whole Yoko Ono thing, but some people do. And apparently Ad-Rock and Mike D get it. Yoko One Plastic Ono Band have an album coming up on September 17, Take Me to the Land of Hell, which features a ton of collaborations including ?uestlove, tUnE-yArDs, members of Wilco, Cibo Mato, and more. You can stream "Bad Dancer" with Ad-Rock and Mike D over at Pitchfork. It's definitely not my thing, but it has the surviving Beastie Boys on it, so here you go!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Free Download: The Go-Getters: World Record Holders

First listen will probably be late this week/combined with next week, but I did want to draw your attention to a free download of the album World Record Holders by rap group The Go Getters. Who are the Go Getters? A group of Chicago rappers including a young Kanye West. This mixtape is about a decade old, so it's worth taking a peek at here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Supergroup Alert! – Chaz Chance & the Prophets

If you’re a fan of Britpop of 70s British glam rock, pay attention. There’s a new supergroup featuring members of Supergrass, The Smiths, Roxy Music, and Suede. I’m not sure if this is going to become a full time project, but a guy can dream. So far they’ve recorded three songs for some British show called The RecordsPhil Manzanera, Mike Joyce, Mat Osman and Gaz Coombes have released a song called “She’s a Queen,” and it sounds exactly like you want it to. It’s extraordinarily Bowie-esque, but I will always approve of bands aping on Bowie. It’s not purely a Bowie rip off and includes just enough of a Britpop sneer to have a fresher sound. I have no idea what The Records is, but let’s hope the show has a long, long run.

Jane's Addiction - "Another Soulmate"

Legendary 90s alternative rock gods Jane’s Addiction are back with a new standalone single, “Another Soulmate.” Just in case the legacy of Jane’s Addiction hasn’t been tarnished enough for you, this song just might do it. Even though “Mountain Song” and “Summertime Rolls” are classics I will drop everything to listen to any time they come on, I pretty much gave up on Jane’s when Dave Navarro started doing reality shows with Carmen Electra. “Another Soulmate” is just terrible. The song is about a friend of Perry’s wife who declares each new loser she starts dating to be her soulmate. Because that’s what you want in a Jane’s Addiction song. In Rolling Stone, Perry has also said it’s their attempt at writing a “Beatles-esque short song that would be fast and furious and it would just be fun, dig it and move on, short attention span." Keep in mind that this is how a 54 year old man talks. If you still decide you want to listen to “Another Soulmate,” Rolling Stone has the exclusive.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

9 Things I’m Most Looking Forward to at The Nines Festival

1. A truly diverse line up
Even “diverse” line ups tend to be pretty homogenous lately. Most festivals feel thrown together with whatever the big names of the moment tend to be, plus maybe a rapper. Because of this, you get a lot of bands that are pretty interchangeable and nothing unique. The Nines has done the opposite. Of all the bands, you can’t really point at any two and call them the same. Hip hop is always an iffy thing with festivals, as most just throw on the token rapper and call it a day. With both K Flay and Kid Koala performing, hip hop has a home, and two completely diverse sides are shown.

2. K Flay
Ok, I’ll admit it. As soon as I saw K Flay’s picture and read her bio, I completely judged her. I think I was still feeling the burn from getting excited about Kitty Pryde (now Kitty), and then hearing really juvenile beats and lyrics. Most alternative rap today is either trying to be Jay Z and Kanye with lower production values, or people that can’t rap trying desperately to be comedians and making nerdy references. K Flay is neither of those things. She is legit, and an absolute blast. I’m guessing the Creepy Old Guy Factor will be at an all time high as I crowd in with the teenagers and college kids for her set, but it will be worth it.

3. Art
Art at a summer music festival usually consists of the body painting booth and homemade pipes. The Nines Festival has actual visual artists displaying their wares, as well as performance art. Art vendors will take up the entire backside of the venue in a way I have never seen before. I’m making plans to get there early just to take all of them in.

4. Stitch Comedy Tent
I’m a huge fan of the Comedy Studio in Cambridge. It provides an intimate feel and one of the best ways to see upcoming comedians. Rick Jenkins always brings in a completely diverse line up every single night they are open. Plus, no one in the audience gets drunk and tries to hijack the show. I personally can’t wait to check out the Stitch Comedy Tent that he is hosting at The Nines. The Comedy Studio only holds 75 people (I’m actually shocked the number is that high), so it will be great to see this group of comedians on a larger stage. I can’t recommend enough the combination of Ken Reid, Bethany Van Delft, and Erin Judge.

5. Kid Koala
I had almost forgotten about Kid Koala. With the current popularity of superstar DJs out there, of course The Nines added one. But they did one better: Kid Koala is actually a turntablist. Turntables are almost a forgotten art form in the days of gimmicky DJs just plugging in a laptop or an iPod and pressing a few buttons. It will be great to see a true legend of the craft at work.

6. Being able to get there in 30 minutes
Goofy reason, sure. But unless I want to see cover bands or screamo at the Palladium, I usually have to drive over an hour for a show. This will be so nice.

7. Explosions in the Sky
Explosions in the Sky have always been one of those bands that intrigue me, but whom I’ve never really gotten into fully. It’s not the instrumental thing, as I consider myself a fan of bands like Pelican and Mowai. I’ve been assured that they are one of those Bands You Need to See Live, but I’ve never been willing to take the chance financially or time-wise. That’s the beauty of festivals: having a chance to become obsessed with a band you would never see otherwise.

8. Not having to select between bands I want to see
At every festival I’ve ever been to, there are always two bands I desperately want to see playing at the exact same time. You either have to choose between bands, or cut out halfway through one to see the other, and you always end up missing something amazing. The Nines is set up old school Warped Tour style: Two stages pretty much right next to each other with bands playing right after the other. The only thing I have to decide is what band to miss in order to check out the Stitch Comedy Tent and the visual arts area.

9. Figuring out what is going to happen between 9:00 and 9:45
Between the two stages, the music is non-stop all day from 1:00 on, except for 9:00-9:45. After Dr. Dog finish up on the 9 o’Diamonds Stage, there is no act scheduled for the Lucky Cat Stage. They can’t have eight hours of straight music and then have a 45 minute break just before the headliner, can they? Can they?? There MUST be something planned. Of course, I am just assuming here. It could all be one planned bathroom/dinner break, but I am curious.

For more information or to buy tickets, head on over to Tickets are $55, free for kids under 10. There is also a $115 VIP option with premium parking, air conditioned bathrooms, and complementary hospitality throughout the day, as well as other benefits. If you’re obsessive like me, check out a map of the festival layout below.