Monday, September 30, 2013

Lee Ranaldo and The Dust - "Ambulancer"

A little more than a week before Lee Ranaldo's 2nd post-Sonic Youth album comes out, there's a new song to help build excitement before Last Night On Earth comes out. "Ambulancer" heads down the direction that Sonic Youth had been heading with A Thousand Leaves and Murray Street. It's equal parts post punk noise and psychedelic jam band rock. It's noisy while staying absolutely lovely, and might just be the perfect jumping on point for Deadhead friends you may have. Lee Ranaldo has always been Sonic Youth's George Harrison (less songs than the ones you get most of the credit, but with some of the most solid songs in the catalog) and Last Night On Earth is shaping up to be his All Things Must Pass. It's unfortunate this album will get less attention than Body/Head or Chelsea Light Moving because it lacks the potential for tabloid-like lyric analysis when it's shaping up to be such a solid release.

Last Night On Earth is due out on 10/18 on Matador Records. Listen to "Ambulancer" below, and find Lee Ranaldo and The Dust's current tour dates here. As always, head over to Lee's portion of the Sonic Youth website for more details.

Oct 8 — Hudson, NY — Club Helsinki
Oct 9 — Buffalo, NY — Tralf Music Hall
Oct 11 — Toronto, ON — Horseshoe Tavern
Oct 12 — Detroit, MI — Trinosophes
Oct 13 — Chicago, IL — The Empty Bottle
Oct 14 — Madison, WI — High Noon Saloon
Oct 15 — Minneapolis, MN — Triple Rock
Oct 17 — Iowa City, IA — Gabe’s
Oct 18 — Omaha, NE — The Waiting Room* (w Built to Spill)
Oct 19 — Lawrence, KC — The Bottleneck* (w Built to Spill)
Oct 20 — St. Louis, MO — The Firebird* (w Built to Spill)
Oct 22 — Nashville, TN — Exit/Inn 
Oct 23 — Asheville, NC — The Grey Eagle
Oct 25 — New York, NY — Terminal 5 w/ Kurt Vile

Nov 14 FR METZ – acoustic show at le musée de la cour d’or
Nov 16 Barcelona, Spain – Barts – PrimaveraSound Touring Party
Nov 18 FR FEYZIN – Epicerie Moderne
Nov 23 FR PARIS – Boulogne Billancourt BB MIX FESTIVAL
Nov 27 Bordeaux, France – Rock School Barbey – PrimaveraSound Touring Party
Nov 28 Bilbao, Spain – Kafe Antzokia – PrimaveraSound Touring Party
Nov 29 Valencia, Spain – Wah Wah – PrimaveraSound Touring Party
Nov 30 Madrid, Spain – La Riveria – PrimaveraSound Touring Party

Dec 6 — Portland, OR — Doug Fir Lounge
Dec 7 — Vancouver, BC — Biltmore Cabaret
Dec 8 — Seattle, WA — Barboza
Dec 11 — San Francisco, CA — The Chapel
Dec 13 — Los Angeles, CA — The Echo

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sebadoh - Defend Yourself

This is a great album that is being unjustly criticized. I’ve been spending the past two weeks trying to determine why. It’s new Sebadoh! New Sebadoh! It’s also Lou Barlow’s divorce album. Considering he met his now ex-wife because of a song (“Poledo”) and won her back because of a song (“Willing to Wait”), how could the relationship not end in song? I think this is where the problem lies: The album isn’t filled with standard break up songs. The theme of break up songs either go along with “get out of my life” or “I’m so sad you’re gone.” However, when a truly long term relationship (Barlow’s was 25 years) ends, especially when there are children involved, it’s not as black and white. You have feelings of both relief and regret. And when you add children to the mix, you don’t get the luxury of cutting the person out of your life forever. Somehow I don’t think most music bloggers have the life experience to understand that.

Which brings us to the music. The album starts off “I Will,” a song about moving on from a relationship. With lyrics like “’Cause someone else / Has found her way into my soul” and “No longer need to be with you,” it’s one of the best songs about moving on without hate I’ve ever heard. Even Jason Lowenstein’s songs have the same feeling. On the Kreative Kontrolpodcast, Barlow mentioned that between the two of them, three songs have lyrics with some variation of “Defend yourself.” My favorite Lowenstein song is “Inquiries.” It’s country in the way that the Meat Puppets are country, and sounds like a trucker’s speed addled ramblings.

Defend Yourself is also Sebadoh’s return to home recording. Technology has progressed far beyond their 4-tracks, so don’t expect the lo-fi sound they pioneered. Plus, they’ve been recording their own stuff for almost 20 years now, so they’ve figured it out. It fits in a perfect middle ground between their early home recordings and their late 90s major label albums.

Defend Yourself is out now on Joyful Noise Recordings. Head over to their website for more information, or their Bandcamp to order it. Below you’ll find the new video for “I Will,” along with their current tour dates.

OCT. 15- Manchester, United Kingdom @ Manchester Academy 3
OCT. 16- London, United Kingdom @ Scala
OCT. 17- Lille, France @ Le Grand Mix
OCT. 18- Brussels, Belgium @ Le Botanique
OCT. 19- Luxembourg City, Luxembourg @ Den Atelier
OCT. 21- Berlin, Germany @ Lido
OCT. 22- Cologne, Germany @ GEBAUDE 9
OCT. 23- Endingen, Switzerland @ Bad Bonn
OCT. 24- Paris, France @ La Maroquinerie
OCT. 25- Utrecht, Netherlands @ Tivoli de Helling
OCT. 26 - Nijmegen, Netherlands @ Doornroosje
OCT. 27- Groningen, Netherlands @ Vera
OCT. 28- Frankfurt, Germany @ Zoom
NOV. 1 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
NOV. 2 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's
NOV. 3 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat
NOV. 4 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
NOV. 5 - Montreal, QC @ Il Motore
NOV. 7 - Hamilton, ON @ Casbah
NOV. 8 - Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
NOV. 9 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
NOV. 10 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern
NOV. 11 - St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
NOV. 13 - Indianapolis, IN @ Radio Radio
NOV. 14 - Columbus, OH @ The Basement
NOV. 15 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe

Friday, September 27, 2013

This is a Thing That Exists: Madonna Covering Elliott Smith

Maybe there was a time when Madonna was cool or relevant. I guess I have some respect for her early period, maybe. I mean, Sonic Youth covered her and wrote a song about her and Sean Penn. She even handpicked The Stooges to perform her songs when she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But lately, she's just been embarrassing herself with trying to stay relevant. This cover of Elliott Smith's particularly gorgeous "Between the Bars" might be the nail in her proverbial cool coffin, because, well, yikes. It's awful. It takes all the beauty and pain of the original and just bastardizes it. Sure, it's supposed to be a protest of the prison system, but it still sucks.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Way Over Yonder Preview

Here in the Northeast, festival season is officially over. The Newport Folk Festival is always a consistent highlight, and I hate having to wait an entire year between festivals. I know some of you aren't local to New England, or weren't able to get tickets since this year sold out months in advance. Luckily for you, there is finally an alternative. Next weekend (October 5 and 6) marks the inaugural Way Over Yonder Festival. This will take place at the world famous Santa Monica Pier. Way Over Yonder is definitely starting out smaller than Newport, but the line up is fantastic, at the very least. I mean, seriously?

Saturday, October 5                                         Sunday, October 6
Neko Case                                                         Conor Oberst
Brett Dennen                                                      First Aid Kit
Justin Townes Earle                                           The Felice Brothers
Calexico                                                             Jonathan Wilson
Shovels & Rope                                                 Thao & the Get Down Stay Down
Eagle Rock Gospel Singers                              Joel Rafael  
And playing on an acoustic stage in a carousel (A CAROUSEL!):
Dave Simonett                                                  Hurray For The Riff Raff     
Jessica Pratt                                                     Spirit Family Reunion
Neal Casal                                                        Aaron Embry
Jenny O.                                                           Frank Fairfield

Unfortunately, we won't be covering the festival this year, but hopefully next year. If you're going, we expect reports. It also promises to be a crazy weekend, since the L.A. Podfest is happening just down the street. For more information, check out the Way Over Yonder website.

First Listen: New Releases for September 24

This week brings at least three new releases I've been waiting on for some time.

Sarah Jarosz - Build Me Up From Bones: Sarah Jarosz keeps getting better and better. Her second album, Follow Me Down, was one of my favorite releases from 2011, and her follow-up, out today, continues being expansive and interesting. No one is doing what she's doing with bluegrass instruments and such stark, shadowy undertones. Plus, the album has its mandatory cover toward the end, with a version of Joanna Newsom's "The Book of Right-On," that meshes perfectly with everything Jarosz is doing. Early on, this is quickly becoming another candidate for best of the year.

Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day: The last we heard from Mazzy Star was a European tour about 13 years ago, so the announcement of a new album was pretty exciting. I've enjoyed lead singer Hope Sandoval's music with the Warm Inventions, but there's something specific about the tone and mood of Mazzy Star that hasn't been replicated in some time. Considering it's been 20 years since "Fade Into You," it's great to hear some new stuff.

Icona Pop - This Is...Icona Pop: ALL HAIL EUROPOP. Icona Pop had a super addictive song in "I Love It," and the album is more of the same, with some really driving anthemic pop songs from start to finish. I absolutely loved this album on first listen, and while I know I'll probably get sick of the bubblegum in due time, I won't have any trouble wearing this one out in the short term.

The Watson Twins - Pioneer Lane: The Watson Twins haven't had a full-length album since the poorly-recieved 2010 Talking to You, Talking to Me, and while this is positioned as an album in some circles, Pioneer Lane is 9 tracks under two minutes each of pleasant, inoffensive folk. I loved their first album, Fire Songs, as well as their work with Jenny Lewis, so I just keep waiting for something more from them. This is nice, but it's really not doing it for me.

Au Revoir Simone - Move in Spectrums: I was first exposed to Au Revoir Simone when they opened for Peter, Bjorn, and John back whenever. They're a very synthy, dreamy-sounding group that hasn't had a new album in a while, and the new album definitely feels a little more modern without abandoning the sound that works for them. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing yet, but it's an interesting record to listen to, especially in the context of where electronic music has been going lately.

Deer Tick - Negativity: Deer Tick is another interesting band that I've kind of struggled to get into. Semi-local, both Ken and I saw Those Darlin's open for them a while back and they put on a great live show (and do great live things), the new album is actually a little grungier and alt-rock than I expected from them. It's an interesting listen given that I have them in a more folk-rock place in my brain. Will definitely be giving this one more time.

CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe: After a few successful, interesting EPs, CHVRCHES finally releases a full-length. If Depeche Mode had a female lead singer and came about today, they'd probably sound a lot like this. In terms of "synthy dark pop with female vocalists," I'll probably still choose MSMR over this, but considering how long-awaited this was on a whole, it's worth a good few listens for when I'm in the right mood.

Also out this week is a new release by Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band if that's your thing.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bunny's A Swine - "Greetings From the Bottom"

Western Massachusetts is overflowing with fantastic new 90s tinged indie rock bands. Bunny's A Swine released their fourth album, Calling Out (which you can stream here). They just released a video for the single "Greetings From the Bottom" which is bursting with Northampton, MA area goodness. Filmed partially at Northampton rock club Elevens and mostly in a cornfield, the video also features other Northampton area indie rock luminaries such as Sadie Dupuis of If It's Too Loud... faves Speedy Ortiz. "Greetings From the Bottom" is a cheery blast of 90s influenced indie pop, kind of a noisier Papas Fritas.

Check out the video for "Greetings From the Bottom" below, as well as Bunny's A Swine's website for more info.

10.12.13 | A House in Sunderland
11.02.13 | O’Briens (Allston, MA)
11.03.13 | The Montague Bookmill (Montague, MA)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Deltron 3030 featuring Zack de la Rocha - "Melding of the Minds"

The excitement over the impending new Deltron 3030 album continues to grow with the release of "Melding of the Minds," a new track from the forthcoming album featuring Zack de la Rocha of (formerly of?) Rage Against the Machine. Unless I've missed something, it's the first officially released music featuring Zack since 2008's One Day as a Lion album, so that alone makes this track a big deal. Zack's intensity makes for an interesting contrast to Del the Funky Homosapien's chill style, and neither tries to conform to the other at all. Add that to the Deltron 3030 signature futuristic funk sound, and it's pure alt hip hop gold.

The new album from Deltron 3030 will be out on September 30. Head over to their website for more details. Listen to "Melding of the Minds" below, and after that you can find their current tour dates.

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bad Brains featuring Angelo Moore of Fishbone - "Ragga Dub"

If you had asked me yesterday if Fishbone and Bad Brains had recorded together, I would have responded with a hearty "Yes." Unbelievably, "Ragga Dub" marks the first time these punk legends have, which makes this track a must hear for virtually everyone. Off the recently released Dub Rockers Vol. 1 collection, which presumably pairs Jamaican reggae acts with American and British ones. I say presumably since Bad Brains is from D.C. and Fishbone is from California. Also, Slightly Stoopid is on it. But who truly cares, when we get a pairing from two of the most important bands of the past 30 years? "Ragga Dub" is much more chill than what I would expect/hope for from this pairing, but it's still a must listen.

Friday Freebie: Matt Pond - Threeep

Noisetrade has three EPs in one from Matt Pond, initially designed to be three seven-inch releases. Matt Pond's latest album has ended up in semi-constant rotation for me, so some extra free tunes from this indie rock stalwart isn't a bad thing...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Listen: New Releases for September 17

A lot of new releases to get through this week, so let's not waste any time:

Elvis Costello and The Roots - Wise Up Ghost: Probably the most anticipated release around these parts is the Costello/Roots collaboration Wise Up Ghost. Elvis Costello has never been shy about trying other genres out, and this is surprisingly not what I expected. It's got its R&B hints, to be sure, but it almost feels like a structured jazz record in a sense, and The Roots have a significant amount of influence on the proceedings. It's definitely an interesting listen, but I'll be honest - as a fan of both Costello and The Roots, I can't say whether or not I'm actually enjoying this one.

Mark Lanegan - Imitations: My first exposure to Mark Lanegan was when Screaming Trees opened for Oasis way back in 1994 or 1995. Since then, I've heard him on plenty of things, but my exposure to him has mostly been his collaborations with Belle & Sebastian's Isobel Campbell. Imitations is a series of cover songs done in a very stark, acoustic way, and...I don't know. Part of it may be my overall unfamiliarity with a lot of the takes (the songs I do know, like "Mack the Knife," are interesting enough), but this seems more like a sleepy piece than anything else. Good for fans of his, I'm sure.

Tift Merritt - Traveling Companion: A release in part of a box set release of her album Traveling Alone from last year, this is an acoustic companion piece that's also being offered individually for those of us who jumped on the Tift bandwagon early. It's a pleasant listen, and a lot of my favorite Tift Merritt songs tend to be stripped down and folky anyway, so this is ultimately right down my alley. If you haven't heard Traveling Alone, it was a highlight of last year's releases for me, and this is a good entry point to check it out.

Mike Doughty - Circles: Mike Doughty has been pretty clear that he was unhappy with how a lot of the Soul Coughing songs ended up, and, given his drug-addled existence during the time, he decided to try and pull the songs apart and put them back together the way he intended. On one hand, this is an interesting exercise to hear a songwriter go through, and the album works as long as you're in on the concept. On the other, as a fan of Soul Coughing, hearing a lot of these songs outside of the Soul Coughing oeuvre is a little jarring, especially given how unique they were as a musical entity. If you've read The Book of Drugs, you probably can't blame Doughty for this project at all. This is an interesting curiosity, though.

Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin - Fly By Night: From the best band name on the planet comes a new album. We hadn't heard from them in some time, and while this album isn't nearly as hooky as its predecessors, it definitely has an early fall feel to it and sounds right at home with so many other Polyvinyl albums as of late. Not too much else to say, a very pleasant album.

MGMT - MGMT: After how great Oracular Spectacular was, with "Kids" and "Time to Pretend" and "The Youth" and all that, Congratulations was a major step backwards. I was thus a little - well, actually, a lot - tentative about their self-titled third effort. "Your Life is a Lie" showed a sort of middle ground between their first two albums that MGMT ultimately spends its runtime balancing just that, with an interesting listen that doesn't bring out anything extremely memorable on first listen, but also doesn't seem to shift things away from what we expect. This will certainly get more time from me in the future.

Other releases of note:

* Sebadoh - Defend Yourself (I expect Ken will have something to say about this later this week)
* Placebo - Loud Like Love
* The Naked and Famous - The Rolling Waves
* Crystal Stilts - Nature Noir

Monday, September 16, 2013

Deer Tick Does In Utero

If It's Too Loud endorses Deer Tick as a live band, and they have apparently been doing versions of songs from Nirvana's In Utero live lately. In Brooklyn over the weekend, the band decided to do the entire album in its entirety. If the stream of "All Apologies" is any indication, they do it as a very straight version of the album, which is an interesting choice.

You can stream it below and download the whole set above from NYC Taper.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Luscious Jackson - "Show Us What You Got"

Luscious Jackson, the band that taught indie kids to dance, is back with the first song off their first album since 1999, Magic Hour. Every indie dance act out today owes a debt to Luscious Jackson, although they probably don't know it. I was a little worried they'd try to keep up with the kids and this whole twerking phenomenon, but "Show Us What You Got" is a mid-tempo groove that fits right in with their classic 90s work. It's a perfectly fun summer tune, which is a bit of a shame they held it back until now. Magic Hour was crowdsourced, making 100% of goal in 48 hours. There are still some packages left over at PledgeMusic, so check it out. For more details, head on over to Luscious Jackson's official website, and you'll find "Show Us What You Got" below. Magic Hour is due out November 5th.

The Julie Ruin - Run Fast

The beauty of the debut album from Kathleen Hanna's new band, The Julie Ruin, is how unexpected it is. The opening track of Run Fast, "Oh Come On," is exactly what I expected and wanted it to be: It combines the punk rock edge of Bikini Kill with the groove of Le Tigre. From there it takes a turn and is much more than I expected.

This is a fun album. It's obvious that Kathleen Hanna's having a blast now that she's back to making music after her recent health scare, and that almost makes this a party album. Song titles like "Party City" and "Cookie Rd." give off that vibe. "Goodnight Goodbye" is actually just a really pretty little song. "Girls Like Us" shows what a Beastie Boys/Le Tigre mash up would sound like. Keyboad player/background vocalist Kenny Mellman takes over lead vocals on "South Coast Plaza" which comes across like a more drunken The Hold Steady. "Stop Stop" is my personal favorite track with it's beautiful chorus juxtaposed with shouting verses. All in all, it's a much more diverse album than I would have ever expected.

Run Fast is out now. Head on over to for more info and to purchase a copy. You can watch the band perform "Oh Come on" on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and current tour dates below.

Nov 08            FUN FUN FUN FEST           AUSTIN, TX 
Nov 09            FUN FUN FUN FEST           AUSTIN, TX 

Nov 10            FUN FUN FUN FEST           AUSTIN, TX

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Drive-By Truckers - Alabama Ass Whuppin'

Out of print for far too long, Drive-By Truckers have just reissued their first live album, Alabama Ass Whuppin'. Originally released in 2000, Alabama Ass Whuppin' showcases a pre-Jason Isbell DBT at their very best. It was an interesting time to release a live album, considering they only had released two albums at this point (Gangstabilly and Pizza Deliverance), but DBT have never truly followed a normal path. It also features an early version of "Lookout Mountain" long before it appeared on 2004's The Dirty South. A live staple, few songs match it's intensity when it's performed live. There's also DBT's cover of Jim Carroll Band's "People Who Died" on Alabama Ass Whuppin'. Drive-By Truckers have always been one of the best live acts around, and this album almost captures the live show perfectly. 

Make sure to head on over to Drive-By Trucker's website for more information and to purchase Alabama Ass Whuppin'. You'll also find a live video for "18 Wheels of Love" below, as well as current tour dates. If you've never seen them live, I can't implore you enough to head out next time they come to your area.

Sat Sep 28       Stateline, NV  Harrah's Tahoe South Shore Room    
Sat Oct 5         Mobile AL      Bayfest           
Sun Oct 06      Greenville        MS     Mighty Mississippi Music Festival     
Fri Oct 18        Macon GA      Cox Capitol Theatre   
Sat Oct 19       Live Oak FL   Magnolia Music Festival        
Wed Oct 30    Dubuque IA    Diamond Jo Casino    
Thu Oct 31      Chicago, IL     Vic Theatre    
Fri Nov 01       Detroit MI       Royal Oak       w/ OLD 97s
Sat Nov 02      Toronto ON    Phoenix Ballroom       w/ OLD 97s
Sun Nov 03     Buffalo NY     Town Ballroom           w/ OLD 97s
Tue Nov 05     Philadelphia PA          TLA    w/ OLD 97s
Wed Nov 06   Columbus OH Newport Music Hall   w/ OLD 97s
Thu Nov 07     Bloomington IN          Bluebird Theater        
Fri Nov 08       Covington KY            Madison Theater         w/ OLD 97s
Sat Nov 09      Memphis, TN  Minglewood Hall        w/ OLD 97s
Sun Nov 10     Nashville, TN  Cannery Ballroom      
Fri Dec 06       San Francisco, CA      The Chapel      Patterson Hood Solo
Sat Dec 07      Santa Cruz, CA Don Quixote's International Music Hall Patterson Hood Solo
Fri Dec 13       Denver, CO     Larimer Lounge          Patterson Hood Solo

Sat Dec 14      Denver, CO     Larimer Lounge          Patterson Hood Solo

First Listen: New Releases for September 10

After a few epic weeks, a slower burn, this time with one high-profile release and some interesting pieces on top of that:

Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady: Musically, I love pretty much everything about Janelle Monae. She's got a really unique aesthetic for R&B that plays into my love of sci-fi and over-the-top storytelling, she knows how to cultivate a musical image that compliments the pop sensibilities of having a clear physical one, and, most importantly, the music is great. While I've found I like some rap music over the last few years, more straightforward R&B hasn't always worked for me, but Monae does. The Electric Lady doesn't quite meet the heights of The ArchAndroid, but I'm pretty sure that would have been impossible. The new album is definitely one of the better things to come about this year, its only flaw being a little too produced. Definitely worth your listen.

Emiliana Torrini - Tookah: Emiliana Torrini is an artist that I've kind of associated with trip-hop more than folky singer-songwriter stuff after seeing her open for Travis and Dido back in 2001. This is not to say that her more recent output is bad, I just get continually surprised by her. The new album is a good listen, nothing jumps out at first listen, but I can see it staying in the rotation in the short term, at least.

Moving Units - Neurotic Exotic: I saw Moving Units open for Blur back when "Crazy Beat" was a thing, and I was super impressed by their dance/disco rock, which was kind of a "thing" back then. Since then, we've seen bands like Franz Ferdinand do it really well and we're well past that trend, but Moving Units, who haven't released a full length since 2007, are back with an album that feels new and fresh without abandoning the format that gave them some indie popularity to start. "I Wanna Go Dancing" is the highlight so far, but the whole album is a fun winner so far.

Goldfrapp - Tales of Us: About 3 songs in, my question was "I thought Goldfrapp was an electronic act." This isn't really a chill album, it's not really a folk album, or a pop album. It's maybe Goldfrapp trying to be Bat for Lashes, but without a lot of the epicness. It's quite confusing, and I don't think I like it.

Other albums of note:

* Juliana Hatfield - Wild Animals: A new album from Hatfield isn't available for streaming yet, but Amazon describes it as "trashy acoustic" and she's doing a PledgeMusic drive to fund it.
* Arctic Monkeys - AM

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2 Great New Covers: Yuck covers Order and Disappears cover U2

Here at If It's Too Loud..., we're always on the lookout for new cover songs to share with you. Today, I'm bringing you two of my most recent favorites. Yuck are one of my favorite English bands I feel like I'm a little too old to be really into, and they're covering New Order, one of my favorite English bands I feel like I'm just young enough to have missed them. "Age of Consent" might be my favorite New Order song, and it's just under appreciated enough not to be played out. Yuck attack the song with their own noise rock style but keep just enough of the original to be reverential.

Similarly, Chicago's Disappears bring just enough noise to U2's "New Year's Day" to keep it fresh. "New Year's Day" is the most hack song to cover in the U2 catalog, but it's part of The AV Club's covers series, so they didn't have much of a selection. It's definitely not a parody, but Disappears make the song their own, which is what the best covers do.

Disappears cover U2

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: "The Kennedy Chronicles" by former MTV VJ Kennedy

If you're a certain age, you probably hit the sweet spot of MTV - a little after the network finally solidified its image, but before the scourge of things like Total Request Live and the end of the animation block. For me, I probably started watching around 1993, which means I was too young to know much about the personalities of the VJs like Kennedy, but old enough to know who was who at the very least. Kennedy was probably my favorite, if only because she came across to me as the misfit toy of the group - not a model, not a comedian, sort of the nerdy type who wandered in and ended up getting a gig on TV. Now, today, she's a political spokeperson in libertarian circles, and she put out a book about her time at MTV, so I dove right at it.

The meat of the book is effectively the story of Kennedy at MTV. It trades back and forth between anecdotes about working at MTV, getting hired, getting fired, the Beach House, and so on, and contrasts it with some talk of the bands she met of the time, her personal relationships with many of the people involved, and so on. It's a lot of confessional, a little "look how cool I was," and a lot of topics over the 300 pages.

What worked for me was that there were a lot of interesting stories. She spent a lot of time with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and you get a different feel for him than perhaps the popular sentiment would represent. In what might be the biggest reveal, we get an admission from the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls that their hit song "Name" was actually inspired by and about Kennedy, which is stunning. A lot of other interesting pieces about various musicians, and a surface-level inside look at MTV in general? It's not bad, especially in the short chapter bite-sized chunks it comes in.

I do wish the book spent more time on some of the aftermath. I do wish we had a more in-depth look at MTV's operations. Some stories, like the ones with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, feel like they're missing key information that should have probably been disclosed later on. The book's hyper-focus on MTV was a little disappointing, and Kennedy was way too focused on her virginity in the old stories. Really?

Overall, I enjoyed the read. It is far from perfect, but as a fun nostalgia trip, especially as someone who was right in MTV's wheelhouse during a time when Kennedy was on, and as someone who was young enough to not know what anyone else really thought about her? Absolutely worth my reading time.

Mean Creek - "Cool Town"

I was a little worried about how much time Mean Creek has been spending opening up for Counting Crows lately. Not that I really have anything against Adam Duritz, but I was worried the early 90s college stoner dude vibe would start rubbing off on Mean Creek. Apparently, my concerns were misguided since their just released song, "Cool Town," is the most furious thing they've released yet. It stops just a shade shy of punk and rests squarely in surf rock on speed. It's an interesting departure for the band, which always gave me an Archers of Loaf meets Bright Eyes kind of vibe. I'll be interested to hear their next album, Local Losers, due out on January 28, which seems like forever.

Check out Mean Creek's website here, and stream and download "Cool Town" below.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Robocop 4 is in Pre-Production, as if Robocop 3 Wasn't Bad Enough" - Future of the Left Gets It

With word that the trailer for the reboot of Robocop has landed, and with a new song from Future of the Left being released around the same time, it sounded like a good reason to offer up their song about that Robocop film in pre-production in celebration of their new album coming soon, How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, due out this October.

While it's not allowing me to embed, "Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow" feels a lot like the themes of their first couple albums with the production of last year's The Plot Against Common Sense. They're still moving away from the McLusky sound, and I mind it less and less every time.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ben Folds and Ryan Adams sing children's songs by Sandra Boynton???

Music made for kids is the absolute worst. As much as you might try to raise your kid on a diet of Dinosaur Jr and the Ramones, eventually a grandparent ruins everything with some Disney Princess nonsense or the Wiggles. Sure, there are children's albums out there by They Might Be Giants and the Fun Fun Records roster is actually good, but they are the exception, and the rule is Raffi.

Right now for free you can download a 3 song sampler on Noisetrade for Sandra Boynton's FROG TROUBLE. If you have a kid, you know Sandra Boynton's surprisingly good books featuring animals in people clothes (But Not the Hippopotamus is my personal favorite). FROG TROUBLE is a collection of kids' songs written by Boynton and sung by a mixed bag of artists. You'll probably want to focus on Ben Folds, Ryan Adams, Mark Lanegan, and Fountains of Wayne while ignoring Darius Rucker. The "fun pack" you can download for free includes Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Adams, and Ben Folds. Ryan Adams' "When Pigs Fly" is much better than it should be, and could actually fit in with his own songs.

You can download the FROG TROUBLE Fun Pack here, and watch a making of video below.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pearl Jam - "Mind Your Manners"

I know this has been out for quite a while, but I've been debating if I really wanted to write about Pearl Jam. Usually I try to focus on music that you might have missed and not arena rockers that have been around for 20+ years. If I'm going to bring up that kind of band, it'll usually be to mock them. But "Mind Your Manners" is Pearl Jam's best song in decades. It's one of the rare songs where you actually hear their punk influences. Plus, it has one of the best Mike McCready guitar solos in history. It's their best music since 1994's Vitalogy.

Lightning Bolt comes out on October 15th. Check out Pearl Jam's website for more information, and find some tour dates below the video.

10.11.2013      Pittsburgh         Consol Energy Center  
10.12.2013      Buffalo, NY      First Niagara Center
10.15.2013      Worcester, MA            DCU Center
10.16.2013      Worcester, MA            DCU Center    
10.18.2013      Brooklyn, NY  Barclays Center
10.19.2013      Brooklyn, NY  Barclays Center           
10.21.2013      Philadelphia, PA           Wells Fargo Center
10.22.2013      Philadelphia, PA           Wells Fargo Center     
10.25.2013      Hartford, CT    XL Center
10.27.2013      Baltimore, MD 1rst Mariner Arena      
10.29.2013      Charlottesville, VA       John Paul Jones Arena
10.30.2013      Charlotte, NC  Time Warner Cable Arena       
11.01.2013      New Orleans, LA         Voodoo Festival                      
11.15.2013      Dallas, TX        American Airlines Center          with Midlake   
11.16.2013      Oklahoma City, OK     Chesapeake Energy Arena        with Midlake   
11.19.2013      Phoenix, AZ Arena        
11.21.2013      San Diego, CA Viejas Arena   
11.23.2013      Los Angeles, CA          Sports Arena   
11.24.2013      Los Angeles, CA          Sports Arena   
11.26.2013      Oakland, CA    Oracle Arena   
11.29.2013      Portland, OR    Moda Center    with Mudhoney
11.30.2013      Spokane, WA  Spokane Arena            with Mudhoney
12.02.2013      Calgary, ALB   Scotiabank Saddledome           w/ Mudhoney  
12.04.2013      Vancouver, BC            Rogers Arena   with Mudhoney

12.06.2013      Seattle, WA     Key Arena       with Mudhoney

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Two Man Gentlemen Band do the "Wander Over Yonder" Theme!

The Two Man Gentlemen Band, Official Top Ten Bands for Jeff, hasn't been seen much since their most recent album, Two at a Time. It turns out that they've been hard at work at the music and theme song for the new Disney cartoon Wander Over Yonder. You can listen over yonder above.

The Two Man Gentlemen Band is a folky throwback duo who love history and drinking, sometimes at the same time. Definitely worth a listen if you're unfamiliar:

Pixies - "Indie Cindy"

OK, this is more like it. Since the release of the horrible single "Bagboy," I had all but given up on the Pixies following the departure of Kim Deal. I may have been a wee bit premature. Yesterday the band released a new EP on their website called EP-1. Of the four tracks, none of which are "Bagboy," they have a video out for "Indie Cindy." The track isn't great, but it's really, really good. It follows Frank Black's patented spoken word rants by getting quieter (throwing off the loud/quiet/loud dynamic, but perfectly) and strangely beautiful. It's a surprising return to form that thankfully has us skeptics doubting ourselves.

You can buy EP-1 in the format of your choosing over at the Pixies' website, and check out the video for "Indie Cindy" below.

First Listen: New Releases for September 3

A few high-profile releases combined with some indie highlights form the foundation of this week's new release schedule:

Volcano Choir - Repave: I don't consider myself a fan of Bon Iver, even though I find Justin Vernon to be incredibly talented and interesting. I don't know what it is about Bon Iver that doesn't resonate with me, but I do know that Repave, the second Volcano Choir album, inhabits the space I wish Vernon was always in for me. It's stark and weird and different without being completely inaccessible, and while it has a lot of indie tropes that people love to hate on, it's an album that deserves to be heard at least once, and probably multiple times. Definitely tops my list as the most interesting new release of the day.

Over the Rhine - Meet Me at the Edge of the World: Over the Rhine is a folk band that exists in the same headspace as Hem, mostly because I saw them open for Hem a number of years ago. Their music is both more folky and more mainstream sounding, and while releasing a double album in this music climate could be considered questionable, Meet Me at the Edge of the World did a good job in not feeling like it overstayed its welcome. It's early to say as to whether I like this more or less than their other start, but it's definitely in the immediate rotation.

Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks: If your favorite Nine Inch Nails music comes from the Downward Spiral era, prepare to be disappointed. If you think The Fragile was the bee's knees and How to Destroy Angels are interesting, this might be more down your alley. As someone who falls in the middle of that, I'm not really sure what to make of this album's existence, let alone what it sounds like. It's distinctly Nine Inch Nails, but it's also what you might have expected them to sound like 20 years after "Closer," so I don't know...wait, "Closer" is almost 20 years old? Oh man...

Okkervil River - The Silver Gymnasium: Okkervil River is a band that I always end up liking, but I've somehow convinced myself otherwise. We can all agree "Lost Coastlines" is one of the better songs of the last few years, and The Silver Gymnasium is less the typical Okkervil sound that you might associate with them and feels more like a late-1980s/early-1990s alt-rock sound to go with the more folk-rock stylings we're used to. I really liked my first listen to the album, I'm interested to see if the production values throw me off in the longer term, though.

King Khan and His Shrines - Idle No More: On the flip side of Okkervil River for me is King Khan and [His Shrines/The Shrines/BBQ Show], a band that, traditionally, I haven't liked although everything should indicate that I would enjoy them. There's a lot to love on Idle No More, which is great news. A lot of great horns, really catchy melodies, I'm almost convinced I might have missed something with them early on, maybe. Definitely worth a listen.

Glasvegas - Later...When the TV Turns to Static: Meh. This is the first album since the blog started that I really couldn't get through. A lot of sterile, radio-friendly rock that does nothing to set itself apart from other bands like them. Pass.

Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You: Neko Case has gone from alt-country mainstay to New Pornographer pop priestess to a more straightforward indie singer-songwriter straddling all of those lines. Middle Cyclone felt like a shift for her, and the new album, in a lot of ways, is the natural evolution from Cyclone. I was concerned with the rock of "Man," the lead single, but the album is really what we've come to expect from Neko Case at first blush. Definitely like the album, definitely unlike anything else around it. Worth a listen for sure, if not more.