Wednesday, October 30, 2013

First Listen: New Releases for October 29

So sue me, I decided to go to bed early on the last off-day for the World Series instead of share this week's new releases early. Like it matters, you're only listening to one of the new things this week anyway...

Arcade Fire - Reflektor: The last Radiohead album I really truly enjoyed was Amnesiac, although Hail to the Thief had its moments. A year after Hail to the Thief, Arcade Fire released Funeral, which was one of those indie albums that really served as a launchpad for a new indie movement and pushed the artsy Arcade Fire to unexpected heights. Reflektor is the fourth album from the band, and it feels really Big and Important, which is all well and good, but it's kind of interesting that the band has kind of taken the "somewhat accessible artsy indie sensibility" torch away from Radiohead in the last decade. Each of their albums feels a lot more grandiose than the last, and Reflektor, technically a double album in a world where that means very little, is the height of this. Those who find Arcade Fire to be overly pretentious will not be swayed otherwise by this one. Those who think they're making the most interesting music on a whole other level will find a lot to love in the new album. For me? It's an excellent, albeit somewhat long, cohesive unit, without a lot of memorable individual songs because of how well everything links together. It's definitely not the best release of the year, but in terms of importance and impact, it may as well be. Fan or not, you owe yourself a listen.

Bardo Pond - Peace on Venus: Our journey through album cover nudity continues with Bardo Pond's latest EP, Peace on Venus. Both Ken and I saw this band open for Sonic Youth back about 10 years ago, and I'm glad to see that I still enjoy them quite a bit. The EP is close to 50 minutes long, with some significantly long songs that don't feel long, and is probably a decent entry point if you're unfamiliar.

Lily & Madeleine - Lily & Madeleine: My favorite release from this week is this debut album from Lily & Madeleine. I get a significant First Aid Kit vibe from them, mostly due to the folky atmosphere and gorgeous harmonies, but this is actually probably more polished and accessible than the sometimes-raw First Aid Kit. There's a lot to love about this album from start to finish, and whoever is doing the signings over at Asthmatic Kitty deserves a raise. Quite possibly a top album contender for this year. A quiet, understated affair that deserves a much wider audience than its likely to get.

The Sounds - Weekend: I've been a fan of The Sounds since I found Living in America in a discount bin sometime in 2003. The band has moved away a bit from the dance rock that turned me onto them, but they're usually good for a handful of solid anthemic rock songs on each album. While Weekend lacks the sort of "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake" killer track on first listen, it's still a solid, pleasant experience from start to finish, the sort of quality release I've come to expect from the band. Definitely worth a look if you've been off the train or looking for a new band to check out. Not their best, but still excellent.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Brief Candles - Newhouse

Yet again out of Minnesota, and on Guilt Ridden Pop, comes another fantastic new 90s tinged release. Released a couple weeks back, Brief Candles’ new EP, Newhouse, blends Guided By Voices power pop with the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine and early 90s Sonic Youth.

Songs like “Olympic Sleeper” start off with a more upbeat, lush version of Galaxie 500 and just devolve into sheer controlled chaos, in the most melodic way. “Terry Nation,” may be my favorite, and sounds like something off Daydream Nation fronted by Kevin Shields. The songs are intricately layered, with the sound that there may be multiple tempos, and nothing quite fits together like it should, except it does. You’re doing yourself and the music a disservice if you just put it on in the background while plugging away at work. If My Bloody Valentine is the perfect hangover music, Brief Candles is what you listen to on your way to getting hung over.

To listen to and purchase Newhouse, head on over to Brief Candles’ Bandcamp page.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Black Flag Debuts New, Snuggly Album Cover

I've never really been much of a Black Flag fan. For some reason, they just never resonated with me. That being said, one thing I know about them is they are bad ass. Right now there are two different versions of Black Flag touring around the country. Black Flag, led by Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes, it set to release their first album in 25 years. It's called "What The..." which is an odd enough name. Then there's the bizarre cartoon character artwork. Like I said, I'm not a Black Flag expert, but I'm pretty sure my 5 year old, Disney princess obsessed daughter shouldn't refer to their album cover as "cute."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Got a Girl - "You and Me (Board Mix)"

Somehow I missed out on this when it came out 5 months ago. Apparently Dan the Automator has an upcoming project called Got a Girl which is a collaboration with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, of Scott Pilgrim vs the World and Death Proof. Whenever an actress decides to sing, it's always a bit iffy, but Mary Elizabeth Winstead actually pulls it off quite well. Got a Girl is more on the lines of Automator's work with Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By and Pillowfight. Mary Elizabeth comes across like a 60s French lounge singer over Portishead if DJ Andy Smith had a bigger role. It looks like an album was supposed to have been released by now, but so far I can't find any information on a release date.

For more information, follow Got a Girl on Twitter.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones - "Long Time Gone"

I only listened to this song so I could mock it on here. I mean... Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones? I have nothing personally against Norah Jones, I just side with Rodney Anonymous on her music. And Billie Joe Armstrong? Green Day are the most contrived punk band of all time. So when I saw they were releasing an album of Everly Brothers duets? This has the makings of "Accidental Racist." But, it's actually really good.

Norah Jones has some country cred with Little Willies, and Billie Joe has a shockingly good twang to his voice. Norah takes the slight lead, but the harmonies are far, far better than they should be. I mean... Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong??? This cynical music snob owes them both an apology for how much I mocked this in my head before actually listening.

Foreverly comes out November 25 on Reprise Records. Check out the first single, "Long Time Gone" below.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First Listen: New Releases for October 22

The slowest week for new releases since we started this up. It will give me a chance to recap some stuff I missed later this week.

Best Coast - Fade Away: Best Coast comes back with a summery-sounding EP that kind of throws a wrench into the whole "I don't really care for Best Coast" thing I had going. It's just the right length, the EP is fun and quick, and if Best Coast is a band you've been kind of down on, this might be a good entry-point to give it another shot.

Ryan Hemsworth - Guilt Trips: Ryan Hemsworth's debut album is a nostalgia trip for me. You might not have a lot of love for the mid-to-late 1990s techno that didn't hit the radio (Orbital et al) but I sure did, and Guilt Trips gives a fairly modern take on that sort of sound. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but it turns out that this sound is classic in a sense, and Hemsworth hits all the right notes on the matter. Definitely worth a listen if you're looking for something different than the glitchy bass drops that have permeated the electronic landscape.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Chambermaids - Whatever Happened Tomorrow

Back in 2003, siblings Neil and Martha Weir formed the Shut-Ins with the help of a drum machine. When they brought in a live drummer they changed their name to The Chambermaids and shortly after that added a second guitarist, bringing their ranks up to four.

In September, they released Whatever Happened Tomorrow, their third full length, on Guilt Ridden Pop. It’s some of the drone-iest shoegaze I have ever heard, but with shockingly pop hooks. It’s not quite as poppy as The Stratford 4 and leans more towards My Bloody Valentine and earlier Catherine Wheel. The record is unbelievably lush yet sparse at the same time. It’s less a wall of sound rushing at you than a swirling, twisting vortex of sound. The whole thing creates a unique and original sound out of familiar pieces. That is, until “China Blue,” the 5th track, comes along and sweeps you away.

Whatever Happened Tomorrow is available now on Guilt Ridden Pop. Head on over to The Chambermaids’ Bandcamp to hear and purchase the album, and for some more info about the band.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Toys of Future Past

When folk/punk/burlesque/noise/cabaret/steamcrunk act Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys decided to record the fabulous Soft Time Traveler, they took to Kickstarter and asked fans to chip in for various rewards. One of which was picking a song for them to cover. This option was chosen 22 times, which leads us to Toys of Future Past.

The 22 tracks chosen run the gamut from obvious (Tom Waits’ “The Piano Has Been Drinking”) to obvious jokes (Barnes & Barnes’ “FishHeads”). The ones in the middle tend to be the best, including an absolutely inspired version of Tori Amos’ “Happy Worker.” It’s a track from the Toys soundtrack, but the Army of Toys give it a slinky, evil reggae vibe. Neil Young’s “The Loner” trades Young’s trademark guitar work for Rachel Jayson’s viola. They also cover fellow Boston band The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library’s song “The Saint of Glass Worms,” which was actually inspired by Walter Sickert. This cover might have created a universe destroying worm hole. Pretty much the only song that sticks with the original's formula is Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight," but why would you mess with perfection?

At 22 songs long, not every one is great. But, 22 songs is a lot of songs, especially when you’re recording the 18 song Soft Time Traveler. I still implore you to give it a listen.

You can stream and purchase Toys of Future Past over at Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys’ Bandcamp page. For more information, head on over to their website. They’re playing a three night stand in Boston for Halloween, but right now the only date I can find is November 2 at Cuisineen Locale in Somerville. Below is a video for them covering "Paint It Black." It's not on the album, but it is bad ass.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

This Is a Thing That Exists - Dolly Parton rapping on Queen Latifa's show

Apparently Queen Latifa has a daytime talk show now? Anyways, she had her Joyful Noise costar Dolly Parton on the show. How fantastic! Everyone LOVES Dolly! What song will she sing? "9 to 5?" "I Will Always Love You?" I bet "Jolene." Oh, man, I'll never get sick of seeing Dolly sing "Jolene." But, no. I guess because Queen Latifa became famous as a rapper, they thought it would be hilarious for Dolly to come out in a blonde afro wig and rap. Well... it's not. At all. Especially since half the rap is about her boobs. This is a 67 year old woman.

Friday, October 18, 2013

This Is ANOTHER Thing That Exists - Kelley Deal on Lil Bub's Big Show

Lil' Bub's Big Show is apparently the new Space Ghost Coast to Coast, complete with the interview subject starting out on a tv screen. The last episode featured legendary musician/record producer Steve Albini, so of course this week features Kelley Deal of the Breeders. Not only is Kelley on the episode, but she premieres a new solo song, "Shirtcrush," which apparently the adorably deformed cat not only plays on but produces. "Shirtcrush" is a throwback to the 90s lounge scene, with mostly acoustic guitars and keyboards giving off an island vibe, right up until a killer guitar solo by Kelley. 

This Lil' Bub meets 90s indie rock legends thing is starting to hurt my brain.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

J Mascis and Sharon Van Etten - "Prisoners"

When I think of John Denver covers, J Mascis doesn't exactly come to mind. Nevertheless, here is a video for his track off the John Denver tribute album, The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver. I expected this to fall into his more acoustic work, but it's a plugged in version that would fit right in on a J Mascis and the Fog album. Sharon von Etten provides backing vocals, and of course there are multiple guitar solos that would melt the glasses off John Denver's face. The video features Aimee Mann and Jon Wurster as Denver fans that find love on a John Denver dating website. And puppets, because why the hell not, right?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First Listen: New Releases for October 15

In a slower week than we've had as of late, there seems to be a common theme...

The Avett Brothers - Magpie and the Dandelion: Many have heralded this album (songs of which came out of the same sessions as last year's The Carpenter) as the next Migonette from the Avett catalog. While I'm still waiting for the next Emotionalism, this is now the third album in a row where the Avetts seem to be happy to fill a more roots/bluegrass-oriented spot next to The Lumineers or Mumford and Sons as opposed to the mix of bluegrass, punk, and rockabilly that their earlier works had. While I and Love and You was a worthy, superlative breakthrough, it appears the Avetts are sticking with what broke them through as opposed to what worked about their sound, which means you get a handful of great songs and a few more unmemorable moments. I wanted more, I wanted different.

Paul McCartney - New: As someone who was never really able to get into the Beatles for whatever reason (people are still strangely horrified that my favorite Beatles song remains "And Your Bird Can Sing"), listening to a new Paul McCartney album at this point doesn't seem to make a ton of sense. He's enlisted a bunch of new producers on board and has some new songs and it's an attempt to sound modern and, well, I guess it works? There's just not much to say about it, and it feels like prime Bob Lefsetz bait - old musician who needs just a few hit singles puts out a huge album instead. I dunno.

The Dismemberment Plan - Uncanney Valley: I came into indie rock a little too late to really get into The Dismemberment Plan, who haven't put out an album as a group since 2001. As it stands, they were never completely my cup of tea - I enjoyed The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified well enough, but it felt like stilted, strange rock music to my ears that were, at the time, coming into being with lots of Apples in Stereo albums. So Uncanney Valley is an album I approached with both a lot of expectations and no expectations at all, and with that in mind, it's an interesting listen. It sounds like what I feel like Dismemberment Plan should sound like while still feeling very out of place. I'm picturing a lot of people who have close to a decade on me age-wise singing songs with call-and-response verses and about cocaine from a space bar and wonder if I've fallen into a bizarre time warp. Why I'm thrown by this, but find Ben Folds Five coming back after a decade-plus hiatus to sing "if you can't draw a crowd / draw dicks on the wall" charming and fun, I couldn't tell you. Listen to this album, make a decision on your own, I suppose.

Tristen - Caves: The only reason I know Tristen is because Ken came back from a concert she opened at and he was blown away. I loved her previous album as a result, and this was pretty highly anticipated for me. Unfortunately, Tristen has put the folk guitar aside in favor of a synth-heavy project that may work for some ears, but not for me. The Haim-ification of the musical landscape continues, I guess. Ken might have more to say about this later on this week, having told me Tristen is coming along as the "alt-country Taylor Swift," but as for me...

Cults - Static: As ubiquitous as "Go Outside" became, Cults never really did it for me. A little too reverby, a little too shoegazey. The sophomore effort, Static is more of the same in some regards, but still a step forward musically. I like a lot of what I'm hearing in a way I didn't expect, still find some of it a little...frustrating. I expect this to be a bit of a breakthrough for them, in any regards.

The Head and the Heart - Let's Be Still: The Head and the Heart took their debut self-released album to Sub Pop and made some waves, and this is possibly one of the more anticipated indie rock releases this fall. While the band takes up similar headspace to The Civil Wars in many regards, this album feels much more quiet and understated than I had expected, and this might not be much of a breakout for the band (assuming that's even what they're looking for). Overall, not a bad album in any regards, just not anything that sticks in my head on first listen.

Also out this week:

* Four Tet - Beautiful Rewind
* An album by a group of Seattle grunge musicians that you surely know and already have an idea as to whether you want to hear it or not.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Forest for the Trees - "Dream"

In 1997, the "electronica is the Next Big Thing" movement was in full effect. The Prodigy had released Fat of the Land, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart. The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim were getting some solid attention, and we all know that Beck's Odelay was an unexpected breakthrough a few years after "Loser." The song that grabbed me out of the multiple singles we got out of this era, however, was a minor hit by electronic group Forest for the Trees.

Forest for the Trees was headed by producer Carl Stephenson, who is probably best "known" for his producer credits on Beck's Odelay. The Forest for the Trees project was signed to Dreamworks, and the self-titled debut album lead off with the single above, "Dream," a spacey pop-electro piece that featured a lot of Eastern instrumentation combined with, well, bagpipe. It's truly a weird song, but fits in with the strange radio experimentation we saw right before rap-rock ruined everything. The album itself is a mishmash of samples and Eastern music and mysticism and electronica tropes that shouldn't work, but mostly does. Of course, it's not on Spotify, but I did dig out the CD today and it holds up.

We never got another album from Forest for the Trees. Word is that Stephenson had major anxiety issues, and a second album was shelved completely, never to be seen again. I'm not even sure if Stephenson is active in the music industry anymore, but I always loved this album and hoped we'd get more.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This Is a Thing That Exists: Billy Ray Cyrus with Fred Durst on The Arsenio Hall Show

I could have sworn Billy Ray Cyrus was that guy with that atrocious hit song over 20 years ago, you know the one that ushered in the horrid pop country movement? I thought he and his mullet were everywhere and had been dismissed as a joke decades ago, but I must have been wrong because here he is on The Arsenio Hall Show performing his new song "Lately." Obviously he's now a dark and brooding artist because look at that hat! That hat is the official hat of the American Idol deep singer-songwriter guy and not something that was chosen by a stylist to put on an aging, decades past his prime country line dance act to make him seem young and vital. And holy crap! Here's Fred Durst, who's also completely relevant. The target audience of this has to be Kid Rock fans who can't decide if they like bad ass rapper Kid Rock or country troubadour Kid Rock best. Either way, this is clearly the most honest and not a desperate attempt collaboration ever.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

First Listen: New Releases for October 8

This might be the biggest new release week of the fall for me, personally, with a lot of long-awaited albums on the docket. Let's get right to it:

Lorde - Pure Heroine: By now, you've almost certainly heard "Royals" (which I raved about back in August), and 16-year-old Lorde's debut album releases today. What I find interesting about Pure Heroine is how quiet and understated it is. It's not a bad album at all, far from it - instead, it's a lot more stark than you might think given the lush vocals in "Royals." I expected a more mainstream Bjork sound, or perhaps some Portishead-style vocals, and instead it's a little safer (being so young and being a mainstream release, this isn't a surprise). It's worth a listen for sure, if only because it's probably the album of the fall, but temper your expectations.

V V Brown - Samson and Delilah: V V Brown's first album, Travelling Like the Light, was a revelation in many ways for me. "Shark in the Water" was an instant classic, for sure, but the way Brown was able to bounce around genres so easily make it stand out for me on a whole. Seeing a new album on the horizon, I was excited, but Samson and Delilah is a very different album in almost all regards. Dark and brooding, perhaps thematically a concept album at its core, it's a more interesting experience than it is an enjoyable, hooky record. I definitely need more time with it, but it's definitely up there as one of the more interesting releases of the week.

Lindi Ortega - Tin Star: If I could choose a word to describe Lindi Ortega, it's dependable. She's put out three albums in the last three years, all of which were solid rootsy music. She came into my radar with "Little Lie," the first track on her first non=independent album, and each song and album after that has been some of the same well-written, well-executed Americana-style music. Really someone who needs to be part of your regular rotation if you haven't had an opportunity to listen to her yet, as Tin Star is just as solid as everything else that she's done. My one complaint, in all honesty, is that it feels too short.

Turin Brakes - We Were Here: Turin Brakes were one of my favorite bands through their first few albums. "Underdog (Save Me)" is still an all-time favorite song, and they finally toured the United States about 8 years after that album came out. That they never seemed to make it big in the United States has been puzzling to me, but seeing as the first listen of We Were Here sounds like their best album in a long time. It's a throwback of sorts to their earliest work, and has that perfect mix of the more sonically interesting folk music that put them on the map to begin with. Definitely a must listen, absolutely a surprise.

Lissie - Back to Forever: Lissie's Catching a Tiger was one of my favorite albums when it came out, and it feels like it took forever for a proper followup to be released. That time is now, and I have to say that it's absolutely worth the wait. Lissie knows how to write a song like no one else does, and I can't say there's a song on here that I didn't notice while I was listening to it. If there's a downside, it's the protest song "Mountaintop Removal," which is more than a little on the nose and too direct to be effective. A small complaint for what is probably going to end up near the top of my year-end list.

Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals: It took three albums, but they finally nailed it. This is not a slap at their debut album or the follow-up, but the formula they had working still needed some help, and it seems like Bitter Rivals does the crunchy noise with the solid hooky melodies better than anything we've heard since "Infinity Guitars." The key problem with Reign of Terror was the reliance on more lush airy tunes, which doesn't work so well with the sound they try to make. Bitter Rivals works because of the aggression factor, because it does what they do well extremely well. Very glad to hear this is as good as I had hoped.

Deap Vally - Sistronix: I first heard "Lies" on an episode of Jools Holland, of all places. They seemed like what I always wish The Dead Weather were: less blues, more rawk. Deap Vally is absolutely borrowing liberally from the White Stripes, and it works really well. It's angsty and angry, it's got a lot of driving guitar, it's pretty much what I was hoping for when I listened to their EP. Definitely check this one out.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr - The Speed of Things: I love this band name, and I loved a handful of their songs from their first EP, but their album left me cold and, to be honest, their second album left me colder. If you're into the whole late-60s psych-folk thing, yeah, this could resonate. This doesn't work for me, though.

Of Montreal - Lousy With Sylvianbriar: Speaking of late-60s psych-folk things, Of Montreal is back with a new album. They've gone all over the place in the last decade, and there's been a lot of dabbling in electronics and such that hasn't really done it for me. Whether it was meant to be or not, Lousy With Sylvianbriar is the most Of Montreal Of Montreal album since, perhaps, the Aldhils Arboretum/Satanic Panic in the Attic era. It's a surprising return to form, and one I'm glad to hear since I very nearly skipped this album entirely on my weekly list. It remains to be seen as to whether this has similar staying power to some of their better albums, but for now, I'm just glad they're back to what I love.

St. Lucia - When the Night: I kind of tore apart the Haim album last week because it felt like faux-nostalgia. Ken and I talked about it later on, and we both felt pretty cold to the album, which makes me wonder if it's less a nostalgia thing and more that the album just wasn't that good. I'm leaning more toward the latter having heard St. Lucia, which is another deliberate throwback piece. This also comes straight out of some of the 1980s excess, but not in the Duran Duran/a-ha way, but more of a Phil Collins or Lionel Richie sort of thing. I don't have a ton of love for that era, either (although I'll never say no to a Phil Collins listen), but I don't know why this feels more sincere than Haim. Maybe it's less produced? Maybe it's the lack of buzz (although I swear I know this band from something). Regardless, chalk this up as one of the more interesting releases this week.

RJD2 - More Is Than Isn't: Chances are, you listen to RJD2 because you like the Mad Men theme. The new album is that same sort of genre-flipping electronica that RJD2 seems to do so well, and it's both impressive in its scope and generally standard. I like it, but it feels like background music more than anything. What RJD2 does is unique within the genre, and yet never fully stands out for me, and this album was unfortunately no different.

Amos Lee - Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song: Amos Lee is another rootsy folk fellow who really dives into it this time around, and it works. It's a little longer than I might like, but there are some really solid songs on here that would probably stand out more if it hadn't been a banner month or so for this genre. I like this a lot, and fear it'll get caught in the shuffle.

Also out this week:

* Electric Six - Mustang
* Cage the Elephant - Melophobia
* William Shatner - Ponder the Mystery

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Helmet - "Anything and Everything"

To mark the Australian co-headlining tour of Helmet and the Melvins (WHY NO US DATES!!?!?!?!), the two bands have released a split 7", and you can hear the Helmet side, "Anything and Everything" right now. The song is damn good, probably their best work of this century. Paige Hamilton hasn't slowed a bit even after multiple decades in the biz and this stands right up with their earlier work. The song slows down a bit too much right in the middle, but the beginning and the absurd firecracker of an end more than makes up for that.

As always, check out Helmet's website here, and see the dates for the Helmet/Melvins tour below. Damn you, Australia.

Oct 11   The Canyon Theater   Agoura Hills, CA
Oct 12   The Date Shed   Indio, CA
Oct 13   The Yost Theater w/ Weapon-X    Santa Ana, CA
Dec 08   The Hi Fi w/ Melvins    Brisbane, Australia
Dec 09   Northern Hotel w/ Melvins    Byron Bay, Australia
Dec 11   Cambridge Hotel w/ Melvins    Newcastle, Australia
Dec 12   Anu Bar w/ Melvins    Canberra, Australia
Dec 14   Meredith Music Festival    Meredith, Australia
Dec 15   The Hi Fi w/ Melvins    Sydney, Australia
Dec 16   The Gov w/ Melvins    Adelaide, Australia
Dec 18   The Hi Fi   Melbourne, Australia
Dec 20   Bodega   Wellington, New Zealand

Dec 21   Galatos   Newton, New Zealand

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pixies - "Andro Queen"

Remember how I hated "Bagboy" and then the Pixies released "Indie Cindy" and I decided all hope was not lost? I was wrong. Today the Pixies came out with their newest video for "Andro Queen" and it's officially the nail in their coffin. If you have any friends that are huge Bryan Adams or Def Leppard fans, you'll want to share this with them. It's a pretty little ballad with cornball lyrics and plenty of tremolo on Frank Black's vocals. Oh, and then he starts ranting in Spanish, because that's edgy. I guess. 

RIP Pixies.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Deltron 3030 - Event II

Thirteen long years ago, the hip hop supergroup known as Deltron 3030 released their debut album. Comprised of Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala, Deltron 3030 was set in the year 3030 and sounded exactly like the future of hip hop. It seemed like a one off, but every so often you’d hear a rumor of a follow up album.

Now, in 2013 (or 3040 according to the album), it has finally happened. Event II somehow sounds like it could have been recorded immediately after Deltron 3030. Looking back on the past is a recurring theme on the album with song titles like “Do You Remember” and “Back in the Day.” The album is such a throw back they even include sketches between songs, which I can’t even remember the last time I heard that. It’s probably because sketches are usually terrible, but Deltron 3030 enlists David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, and The Lonely Island for sketches, which all keep the “back in my day” theme alive. The album features a few other non-musicians, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt providing the album intro voiceover and Mary Elizabeth Winstead singing the hook on “Look Across the Sky,” one of the highlights of the album. Two of the other most notable guest stars include Zack de la Rocha on “Melding of the Minds” and Mike Patton on “City Rising From the Ashes,” my personal favorite on the album. That’s not even mentioning Del’s Gorillaz collaborator Damon Albarn showing up on “What Is This Loneliness.”

Event II doesn’t feel as groundbreaking as Deltron 3030 did 13 thirteen years ago. It could be easy to blame its existence on nostalgia. I mean, the theme of the album is nostalgia for when times were better. Think back to 2000… Things did seem better then. Nostalgia or not, this is a strong contender for Album of 2013.

Head on over to Deltron 3030’s official website to purchase the album or for more info. Below you’ll find the video for “City Rising From the Ashes” and 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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

This is a Thing That Exists: Steve Albini on Lil Bub's Big Show

The internet loves cats, especially cute ones. So of course it was only a matter of time before Lil Bub got her own talk show. For those of you with lives, Lil Bub is this cat that is a dwarf, a permakitten, and has some other genetic deformity that gives her a short lower jaw and no teeth, so her tongue always hangs out. This makes her adorable, and clearly deserving of her own talk show. Who appears on episode 3 of this talk show you ask? Why, Steve Albini of course. Most of you probably know Steve Albini as the recording engineer (not producer) of such acts as Nirvana, the Pixies, Bush, and Jimmy Page & Robert Plant. He is also the frontman of Shellac, and before that Big Black. If you're unfamiliar with Big Black, watch this video below:

I know the first time I ever heard Songs About Fucking I couldn't wait to see Albini give a tiny, adorably deformed cat a tour of his studio. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ryan Adams produced a new Fall Out Boy album??????

I hate hate hate Fall Out Boy. I hate everything about them: Their obviously carefully picked out Hot Topic wardrobe and eye make up, their overly polished top 40 songs pretending to be punk rock... Now, I'm not Mr. Punk Rock by any stretch of the imagination, but I know enough punk to know they're not it, and to be offended by the claim that they were. My hatred of them ran so deep I started to dislike bands I loved like The Promise Ring and Jawbreaker just because they were lumped with them into the whole emo thing.

Which is why I was so dumbfounded that Ryan Adams produced the upcoming Fall Out Boy album. Pax Am Days is supposedly a return to their punk roots, but I have yet to see any evidence that they have any. What's most surprising is that this song isn't terrible. I'm not ready to go out on a limb and say that it's good yet, but it's not bad. I'm not sure if I'm 100% comfortable with that statement, but there it is. The gang vocal chorus seems to be trying a bit too hard, but that's the worst I can say about it. I guess the best news is if Ryan Adams can make Fall Out Boy punk, I can't imagine how the new Evan Dando/Ben Deily/Juliana Hatfield Lemonheads album he produced will sound.

Pax Am Days is out on October 15. If you're curious enough, listen to "Love, Sex, Death" below.

First Listen: New Releases for October 1

Nothing long-awaited outside of Haim's debut album has dropped this week, but it's still a surprisingly robust week for new releases. Let's dive in:

Tired Pony - The Ghost of the Mountain: Tired Pony is a side project/supergroup headed up by Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, and including members of Belle & Sebastian, producer Jackknife Lee, and so on. The first album was a quieter, folksy affair that didn't exactly fit in with anything any of the members have done, and The Ghost of the Mountain certainly feels more complete, but still suffers from that same sort of quiet quality where nothing catches your ear enough to really give it full attention. As a complete unabashed R.E.M. fanboy, I will give this more of a shot, but it's not really catching my ear.

Moby - Innocents: I hate to say this, but I didn't realize Moby was still making albums. The last I had recalled was 2005's Hotel, and he apparently has a few albums in between. Innocents is closer to what I've liked from Moby in the past even if it feels more relic-like than anything else. The highlights for me were the song with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips and the two tracks that featured Cold Specks, but overall, this feels less like an album and more like a weird curiosity from a time when electronic music was very different.

Haim - Days Are Gone: I admittedly wasn't on Team Haim after listening to their earlier EP, but the amount of hype they're getting across the board means the album deserves a listen. The album is pretty solid from a standpoint of what they're trying to accomplish - most of this album would fit in very well on 1980s mainstream radio. It's solidly retro while not feeling like it's trying to be or being retro for the sake of irony. At least for me, though, I haven't been clamoring for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" Whitney Houston revivals in my modern music, either. With good reviews and a lot of buzz, it's worth a listen, but it's really not for me.

Elf Power - Sunlight on the Moon: While many people hold up Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel, or Apples in Stereo as their favorite Elephant 6 bands (assuming they have a favorite), Elf Power has always been mine. Their last few albums haven't really worked so well for me, though, but Sunlight on the Moon is definitely the most Elf Power-y Elf Power album I've heard in a while. Is it to the heights of Creatures or Walking With the Beggar Boys? No, not at all, but it's still quite good.

Blitzen Trapper - VII: I've enjoyed Blitzen Trapper for some time now, mostly impressed by their ability to jump genres so easily. VII is probably their most straight-rootsiest effort thus far, and it absolutely works because of how solid the songwriting is and how good the band has been for so long now. If "Black River Killer" was your jam like it was mine, this album's going to make you very happy.

Yuck - Glow and Behold: Yuck's self-titled debut was awesome. A great, grungy throwback album that kind of came out of nowhere, the band got some good buzz but the lead singer left the band. Glow and Behold is the first album since losing their singer,'s different. Is it still a 1990s alt-rock throwback? Absolutely. Does it have the same impact? I don't think so, but your mileage may vary. Proceed with caution.

Those Darlins - Blur the Lines: I'll be honest, I have a lot of trouble pinning down what Those Darlins are doing. Their first effort was fairly rootsy, the second more throwback girl band, this one...somewhere in the middle? Maybe? I don't know. There's not a standout song on first listen, but that doesn't necessarily mean much. It's an interesting release at that, but I'm withholding further judgement.

Quasi - Mole City: Quasi, with Sleater-Kinney/Wild Flag drummer Janet Weiss, is a strange band that tries a lot of interesting stuff. Sometimes it works, but, early on, this longish Mole City isn't grabbing me. I can't quite place what it is that isn't doing it for me (it might be the shorter songs that break things up), but I'm not so sure about this one.

Basia Bulat - Tall Tall Shadow: Basia Bulat burst onto my scene with "In the Night," from her debut album that I remember having a very difficult time finding at Newbury Comics when it came out. This album continues the quieter pacing that her second album started out on, and it's a very pleasant listen, for sure, but (especially with the glut of new releases) might get caught in the shuffle in the grand scheme of things. I just want more people to notice Bulat, though, so a new album is always a good thing.

Other albums of note:

* Deltron 3030 - Event II (Ken will be covering this soon, but it's pretty awesome)
* The Sadies - Internal Sounds