Thursday, May 31, 2012

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros - "Man on Fire"

They just released a new album this week and are now releasing a new video to go with it. The song "Man on Fire" by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (do they allow abbreviations of their name - ESMZ?) was already pretty incredible, so they made an even more incredible video to go with it. The video will remind you of your childhood, provided that you participated in tumbling, cheerleading, jump-rope, ballet or stepping (which I think should cover a good percentage of you). The closest I came was stepping.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Music Tuesday - 5/29/2012

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros - Here

Maybe this is sad to say, but my introduction to Edward Sharpe was through a solo album by Alex Ebert (the lead singer and I realize that his name is not Edward Sharpe) suggested to me by a friend of mine. That album was released last year, but the debut Edward Sharpe album was released two years before that. I'm very happy for the introduction; while I had heard of the band, I had kind of assumed they sounded like the Magnetic Fields (maybe because of the word "magnetic"...). While I love the Magnetic Fields, there's only so much of that style I can actually take (maybe about 69 songs or so), so it's great that they do have a much different sound than their name-brothers.
"That's What's Up"

M83 - Reunion EP

Remixes can be a real mixed bag for me, but some music is better suited to it than others. M83's work is among that which lends itself well to other artists remixing the sound. This remix EP, the second from his Hurry Up, We're Dreaming album released last year, features remixes by White Sea, Sei A and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Paloma Faith - Fall to Grace

England seems to have a wealth of strong-voiced female singers. Unfortunately for many of them, us Americans are stuck on Florence + The Machine and Adele. Paloma Faith is a an artist that deserves more attention from our ears though. She'd probably get it if it weren't for Florence (still love Flo, though). She has a similar epic, showy style and a penchant for complicated outfits.
"Picking up the Pieces"

Regina Spektor - What We Saw from the Cheap Seats

I loved Begin to Hope when it came out (who didn't) in 2006. Her followup, Far, left me a little cold; it wasn't bad, but it didn't quite capture the same magic. I think this may be a return to form in my early listens. I know I love the leading single, "All the Rowboats," and quite enjoy the other songs, as well.
"All the Rowboats"

Sigur Rós - Valtari

I recently saw a poster at my local record store reading, "Like Björk, Sigur Rós is from Iceland, but they aren't as weird" (or something to that effect). I'd say that's a pretty awesome endorsement for the band...though they are a little weird (Jónsi plays his guitar with a violin bow, for goodness sake). This album sees them slowing down their sound and moving even further into the ambient space as they've ever gone.
"Ekki múkk"

Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns

Electro/House music can be a difficult genre to just sit around and enjoy, so much of it ends up sounding like it's been made only for the club (which, I realize, may often be the case). SMD pull themselves from that element slightly, though I can't pinpoint what makes it seem less...rave-y. I guess I could say that their songs are fairly succinct and have a more standard song structure to them.

The Temper Trap - The Temper Trap

Sophomore albums can be a dangerous game for many bands. If their debut was successful enough, many fans will expect more of the same sound and want to hear the same sound that drew them in, a band also needs to grow and challenge themselves. I think The Temper Trap have done the latter, which is not a bad thing...though it will alienate some fans. They've grown out of the more conventional indie rock sound, which a lot of bands were doing in 2009, in favor of one that brings in more synthetic elements, which...admittedly...a lot of bands are doing now, too.
"Need Your Love"

The Walkmen - Heaven

Thanks to the magic that is NPR pre-streaming, this had already become one of my favorite albums of the year two weeks before it was actually released. It's a different sound for the band, a much bigger jump than the one between You& I and Lisbon. Everything about the album seems a lot more personal. From the pictures released as promotional material to the lyrical content of the songs, you know that they are now singing more about their lives, their loves and their families. It's quite sweet (so many adorable kids in the album artwork), but it works, too. Hamilton Leithauser's strong vocals seem to carry so much more purpose.
"Love Is Luck"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

On Repeat: "We Can't Be Beat"

The Walkmen release their new album, Heaven, this coming Tuesday and I'm already pretty obsessed with the release (thank you for streaming, NPR!). While all the songs on the album are great, I've become especially partial to the opening track, "We Can't Be Beat."

It reminds me of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows." Not in style, necessarily, though they both excel in their sparseness, but in the sentiment. It's a love song, in a way, but not one of grandiose sentiment, it's simple and honest, noting that life and love are not perfect.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hot Chip - "Night and Day"

If you're as into slightly obscure celebrity personalities as I am, then this video is star-studded. Lara Stone! Reggie Watts!! Terence Stamp!!! Not to mention, some incredible dance moves.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Music Tuesday - May 22, 2012

Baio - Sunburn EP

As much attention as his main act, Vampire Weekend, has gotten, their members' solo projects have flown relatively under the radar. The members have exercised their varied interests in solo work, though. Rostam Batmanglij, the band's keyboardist, has been the most active; with a LP under the name Discovery three years and an amazing track released under his own name last year. Chris Baio will be the second to enter the solo world with this EP, staying fairly true to the Vampire Weekend sound, but adding some electronic sounds.

Garbage - Not Your Kind of People

They've been on a seven-year hiatus, but have not missed a single step. Their music and style is just as dark as ever. While they've been apart, they've been very involved in various aspects of entertainment. Butch Vig continued producing many a great album for other artists, including Jimmy Eat World's Chase This Light. Shirley Manson tried her hand at acting. Perhaps it's this continued focus in the creative world that has kept this band's music at such a high level even after 18 years together.
"Blood for Poppies"

Gossip - A Joyful Noise

I loved where Gossip started, with a garage rock sound that perfectly showcased Beth Ditto's vocals. I was left feeling a bit cold to their first foray into dance pop, Music for Men, three years ago. Perhaps helped by a solo EP from Ditto in the same style (or they're getting better at it), I'm starting to warm up to this style from them. Beth Ditto morphed perfectly into a dance-floor queen!
"Perfect World"

Joey Ramone - ...ya know?

Maybe Joey Ramone will become the Tupac of the punk world (hopefully without hologram performances, though). Ramone passed away back in 2001. This will be the second full-length release since his passing; the first, Don't Worry About Me, was released the year following his death. It's certainly great to hear his voice on new (well, new to the rest of us) material, but posthumous albums freak me out a little bit, you never know how many of these producers have up their sleeves!
"Rock and Roll Is the Answer"

Paul and Linda McCartney - Ram re-issue

Each of a The Beatles has a post-breakup solo album that has become highly-regarded over time. For Paul McCartney, that album was very easily Ram. It was originally released in 1971, right after the end of the iconic band.
"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

s / s / s - Beak & Claw EP

I can't imagine it took long to come up with this name. All three members have an "S" initial in their name; Sufjan Stevens, Serengeti and Son Lux. They make an interesting trio, definitely unexpected. I like Sufjans voice in this (but, of course I love his music)...I could kinda do without the rest.
"Museum Day"

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jack White's World Record

Strange news came out this week. Apparently, a few years ago, Jack White tried to set the record for the shortest concert when he was The White Stripes were still a thing.

The concert occurred in St. Newfoundland, Canada. Jack and Meg set up, look at each other, play one note, then thank the audience and leave the stage. Unfortunately for Jack, The organization behind the Guinness Book of World Records felt that the feat could become too trivialized to be included in their books. Jack wasn't too happy about that.

This got me thinking of what other music-related records are currently being recognized by Guinness, so I looked up some records on their website. Here are some of my favorites.

Song Sung in the Most Languages

"Earth Passport" by Liquid Blue, sung in nine languages.

Most No. 1 Music Videos

Madonna, with nine number 1 music videos on the US Music Video Chart.

"Like a Prayer"

Most Hit Records by a Royal

Princess Stephanie of Monaco, who has had several hit records in Europe with the album Rendez-Vous.

Jack White may have a chance yet to be included among these musicians. The Guinness organization has challenged Jack to set a very different record, the most metaphors in a given concert. A strange record, sure, but good luck to Mr. White on setting it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

On Repeat: "Simple Song"

With the many changes that The Shins made in their five-year hiatus (new members and new sound), I didn't think Port of Morrow would manage to produce some of my favorite Shins songs. Time has proven me wrong and I really enjoy the new album. Possibly my favorite song on the album is "Simple Song."

Cut Copy - "Take Me Over"

A bullied girl stands up for herself in a wicked awesome cardboard costume!

They should be afraid!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blue Like Jazz

Yesterday, my movie was Blue Like Jazz, a college comedy set in Portland, Oregon.

The movie follows a young Christian man named Don as he prepares to transfer to a full-term university from community college. He plans to attend a Christian college near his Texas home. His world is sent into a tailspin when he discovers that his mother is carrying on an illicit relationship with the youth pastor of his church, and he just wants to get as far away as possible. Thanks to a convenient plot point of an über-liberal and atheist father, he is able to make the last-minute decision to attend Reed College, instead. There, he discovers his religious beliefs make him a bit of a pariah on-campus. He hides his beliefs and instead opts to do all the weird things that people in Portland do, like ride tall bikes. He gets pretty close to renouncing his beliefs, especially as his view of his former life shatters furthers. He realizes, though, that a fellow student, a girl he (of course!) has crush on, is a practicing Christian, as well, which causes him to reconsider his beliefs. Then at the end, he is named the pope of Reed College and starts taking confessions from his classmates (yeah, it's a weird movie).

The movie was a Kickstarter success story, earning more than $300,000 on the site and having even more donated, which allowed the movie to be made. Good thing, too, it's a pretty good film. In some ways, I identified with Don, though his journey was a lot shorter than mine has been so far and was triggered by an event rather simple growing doubt. I did have a bit of an issue with the pace. The atheist dad living with a trailer with Reed connections and who just happened to have gotten his son admission just in case was a little too convenient. There were also a few random scenes with little reason for existing, like when a bear stole Don's tall bike. All in all, though, it was a good film and didn't seem to fall too much on either being really cynical about religion or too forgiving of it.

Mini soundtrack:

Menomena - "Taos"

John Coltrane - "A Love Supreme, Part 1: Acknowledgement"

Menomena - "E Is Stable"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kanye West - "Lost in the World"

In terms of who he is as a person, Kanye West is probably one of my least favorite musicians. But dangit if the man doesn't make some incredible music and even more incredible music videos. True to form, though, he doesn't care about epileptic people, so don't watch this if you are one of those people.

New Music Tuesday - May 15, 2012

Beach House - Bloom

This seems to have been one of the most highly-anticipated albums on the year and that anticipation is already paying off in some of the best reviews of the year, as well. The high reviews are well-deserved, it is an incredible album. They haven't strayed far from the distinctive sound they've developed over the past three albums, but there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

Best Coast - The Only Place

Lead singer Bethany Cosentino has promised that this album, influenced by Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, will present a more mature sound and lyric-content than their debut, Crazy for You. I don't know how much Fleetwood Mac I've heard in it, but it certainly is a matured sound for the band. Some songs still seem to harken back to a love of California and frustration with the opposite sex, but the approach is different and gone are all the references to smoking illicit substances and cats.
"Do You Love Me Like You Used To"

Black Tambourine - OneTwoThreeFour EP

If I had known about this band a couple of months ago when I wrote my best one-album wonders post, they would have been included. The band never technically released a full-length studio album, just two EPs during their tenure together. Two compilation albums were released about 10 years ago. This will be the first release of new material for the newly-reunited band in 20 years. It is comprised of covers of four Ramones songs.
"I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"

The Cribs - In the Belly of the Brazen Bull

The Cribs may be one of the better British indie rock bands still performing. They released one of my favorite songs of the genre, "Men's Needs", in 2007 on an album produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos and including a song recorded with Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. Not a bad pedigree for a band that was still fairly young at the time. Even five years later, they've managed to hold on to the sound that made them great in the first place.
"Come One, Be a No-One"

Willie Nelson - Heroes

There are only a handful of musicians that have been around for six decades and still produce great music. Willie Nelson is an integral part of that elite group. This is his 76th (dang) album, and the artist is still going strong!
"The Scientist"

Friday, May 11, 2012

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak

Yesterday brought some bad news. Maurice Sendak, the author of everyone's favorite children's book, Where the Wild Things Are passed away at the age of 83 after complications from a stroke.

Although he wrote and illustrated many books, including In the Night Kitchen and Seven Little Monsters, he was probably best known for his 1963 publication, which became a major cornerstone of American culture. I remember reading the book as a child and simultaneously fearing the "Wild Things" and wanting to hang out with them just like Max from the story. His famous work was recently turned into a full-length, live-action movie with a soundtrack produced by Karen O.

Goodbye, Mr. Sendak!

Where the Wild Things Are

A Conversation with Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are movie trailer

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mispronounced Words

This is so stupid, but I find it somehow hilarious. For about the past year, the YouTube channel PronunciationManual has been posting horribly mangled "pronunciation guides" for a number of brands, people and products. It's a riff on the PronunciationBook channel, which actually teaches you how to pronounce the words.

The pronunciations here end up sounding like a strange mix between the Sims language and someone with only a cursory knowledge of Western languages. Let's see how to say some of my favorite things:

Monday, May 7, 2012

New Music Tuesday - 05/08/2012

Damon Albarn - Dr Dee

In between a new single from the Gorillaz and comeback performances with Blur, Damon Albarn somehow found the time to create an opera about the 18th-century medical and scientific advisor to Elizabeth I, John Dee. The opera itself ran last summer in Manchester, England. Now, to give the world a taste of the production, the soundtrack is being released. While certain songs certainly do sound, well, operatic; there is still enough of a taste of Albarn's voice and style to feel connected to everything else that he has done in his prolific career!
"Apple Carts"

Here We Go Magic - A Different Ship

Here We Go Magic is one of those bands that exists at a crossroads between seemingly disparate genres, but do a generally masterful job of blending them together. They have a kraut-rock influence, but cross it with enough pop to make it fun and enough folk to make it accessible. They continue with their sound here, becoming even more comfortable on their third full-length album.
"How Do I Know"

Iggy Pop - Après

Maybe age is calming the punk legend. Iggy Pop is 65 years old and made a name for himself spearheading the punk movement and as a major fixture in glam rock. On this and his previous release, Préliminaires, he's made markedly more subdue music. Abandoning punk and glam for French jazz and pop, he's made a massive shift. Somehow, despite my love of The Idiot and Lust for Life, I don't hate this direction. His voice is strangely well-suited to the style.
Iggy Pop on "La Vie en rose"

S. Carey - Hoyas

Another folk drummer steps out (though, again, not for the first time) from behind the kit for a go at the solo thing! This time it's Bon Iver's drummer S. Carey, who released his debut album, All We Grow, about two years ago. He takes on a sound similar to his main act, with a tinge less falsetto. He is, I think, further proof, that drummers aren't only good for providing a beat!
"Two Angles"

Saturday, May 5, 2012

R.I.P. Adam Yauch

I feel like I've been writing too many of these posts lately. This one comes from the world of hip hop. Adam Yauch, aka MCA aka Nathanial Hörnblowér, passed away yesterday at the age of 47. He had been suffering from cancer of the parotid gland and lymph node for about three years, which is likely what took his life.

As one-third of the hugely influential Beastie Boys, Adam helped create a very unique sound that remains influential even now. Not only were they the best white boys to touch hip hop they also, having started out as a punk band, helped to make it popular to mix hip hop and rock. Adam also directed music videos under the name Nathanial Hörnblowér and movies under his given name. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his band just earlier this year.

Music lost a great pioneer today and he was taken far too young.

Goodbye, Adam!

"Time to Get Ill" from Licensed to Ill

"Intergalactic" from Hello Nasty

"Make Some Noise" from Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2

Friday, May 4, 2012

On Repeat: "Feathers"

Despite some initial trepidation due the change of their sound, I've come to really love Fanfarlo's new album, Rooms Filled with Light. "Feathers" is not so easily my favorite track on the album (there are a lot of gems). Once again, I'm a sucker for this chorus!

Simian Mobile Disco - "Put Your Hands Together"

I call this one "Variations on a Box"

There were a lot of pretty cool music videos out this week, but this one was probably the best. Most rely so much on telling a story, which is also great, but sometimes it's good to just have something that simply looks good without any oratorical context.

SMD releases a new album, Unpatterns, on May 29th!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


This past weekend, I went to see Bully, a documentary about the issue of bullying in American schools.

The movie focused on a number of bullying cases, some current, others in the aftermath. A lot of time was spent with Alex, a socially awkward 11-year-old routinely tortured on the school bus, even showing much of that treatment happening. The film countered depictions of Alex with those of kids and families dealing with the aftermath of bullying, ranging from relatively positive to the worst result you can think of.

On the better end of the scale was Kelby, a lesbian in a rural Oklahoma town who was victimized even by teachers. She had attempted suicide several times, but had support from family and friends; eventually, she had to make the choice to leave her school. Next was Je'Maya, an athletic girl who decided to try to intimidate her bullies with a gun, landing her in juvenile detention. A great deal of attention was paid to her mother, who had to deal with a child that had been driven to the brink.

Sadly, not everyone can get out, as was shown with the suicides of two boys named Tyler. Tyler Long had dealt with bullying most of his adolescent life and hanged himself in his closet at 17. Ty Smalley was only 11-years-old when he took his life. The parents of both Tylers seemed to be towards the fore-front of trying to enact change to school policy and overall attitudes towards bullying.

The film also showed snippets of bullying behavior and interviews with other bullied children. All cases were heartbreaking, made worse by the seeming disconcern exhibited by teachers and administrators shown in the film.

The movie was certainly emotional and at times made me angry; certainly at the bullies shown, but also at the school administrators, the people charged with protecting kids when they're not at home.

Probably the moment that most made me want to run up to the theater screen and punch a hole through it was when a vice principal at Alex's school sat down with him to talk about his treatment on the school bus. She was inquiring as to why he hadn't reported the bullying. When he told her that he had, it was revealed that, after an incident in which a boy had sat on Alex's head, she told the boy not to sit on Alex's head again. Guess what? He stopped sitting on Alex's head, sure enough, but continued to torture the boy in other ways. He didn't continue to report the incidents because, in his mind, nothing happened as a result. That seemed to be a common story; little or nothing was done until either the student snapped or took his or her life.

I don't know if suicides as a result of bullying have increased in the past few years or is just getting reported more. But it doesn't matter if it's one kid or 20, it shouldn't happen...ever.

OK, I'll get off the soapbox now. It's a good documentary; I think that it could have been better balanced in terms of how much time it spent on each case, but certainly made me want to do something.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sharon van Etten at Mayday

The Rundown

I guess it's pretty obvious by now that Sharon van Etten is one of my absolute favorite artists. I went to see her with a friend this past weekend at Mayday bar in Northside and it wasn't the first time I had seem her perform live. I first saw her last year at the MusicNow festival and then a couple of months ago in Columbus. She puts on such a great show that it's always a pleasure to see her live. I'm also starting to get a sense of how she is growing as a musician, which is a reward in itself.

Her opening act Friday night was a band names Flock of Dimes, who I didn't think I had heard of. While performing, I mentioned to my friend that the band sounded a bit like Wye Oak with club beats. Little did I know...that's essentially what they were! Flock of Dimes is Wye Oak lead singer's Jenn Wasner's solo project. Hers is easily one of my favorite voices in indie rock, it works great in this project as well!


Re-use-a-palooza, as seen on the way to the venue...I'm intrigued!

Instruments sitting around waiting for the band.

Hipster disco party!

You know you're going to get something interesting when one band member plays the computer!

Hair band!

Sharon with her omnichord!

Another interesting instrument...the harmonium!

Mini setlist:

Flock of Dimes - "Prison Bride"

Flock of Dimes - "Icy"

Sharon van Etten - "Leonard"

Sharon van Etten - "A Life of His Own"