Sunday, April 28, 2013

R.I.P., Ric Menello

On March 1 this year, music video director and movie writer Ric Menello passed away at 60 years old.

Menello became friends with hip hop producer Rick Rubin, through whom he met the Beastie Boys. He directed their iconic video for "(You Gotta Fight) For Your Right (To Party!)" before going on to write screenplays for such films as Tougher Than Leather and Two Lovers. His final film, The Immigrant, will be released later this year.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thee Oh Sees - "Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster"

Some friendly guidance for all you serial killers out there, this is what you should do if someone catches you in the act!

Thee Oh Sees released their most recent album, Floating Coffin, on April 16.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Music Tuesday - 04/23/2013

New Full-Length Releases

Junip - Junip

Junip is the band of Swedish singer-songwriter José González. They released an EP in 2005, then disappeared for the next five years. During that time, José released his second solo album. When they came back in 2010, it was full force, with a full-length album and two EPs by 2011. 2012 was another quiet year, until December when they announced the new album and released a new single!

Listen/Watch: "Line of Fire"

No Joy - Wait to Pleasure

No Joy (and no, I don't like them just because of their name) is a band I first became aware of after they signed with Mexican Summer, a label that also boasts Tamaryn and Best Coast. The label has many breezy, alt-rock bands and this shoegaze act is no different. They released their debut album, Ghost Blonde, to much acclaim, and their sophomore release has been no different.

Listen/Watch: "Lunar Phobia"

Phoenix - Bankrupt!

One of my best friends introduced me to this French band back in 2005 after they had released their first two albums (and yeah, I'll say it, before they got big). I don't mind their fame, since they still made great music, although, I do have an inside joke with this friend regarding their success. I expect that this will be another great release from them!

Listen/Watch: "Entertainment"

Other New Releases

Christopher Owens - Lysandre Acoustic

Christopher Owens released his first post-Girls album, Lysandre, earlier this year. I didn't quite love it; I appreciate that it sounded different than Girls, but I think I loved that band too much. Last week, he released this acoustic version of the album as a free download. It probably won't add anything to his work, but I'm a completist, so...yeah, downloaded!

Listen: "Here We Go Again" (Acoustic)

Janelle Monáe - "Q.U.E.E.N." (featuring Erykah Badu)

I love it when great musicians get together! Monáe and Badu are very similar in that they both changed up the R&B game. Badu ushered in the neo-soul era and, more recently, Monáe, has heralded a more alternative style of R&B music. This is the first single off of Monáe's upcoming album, The Electric Lady, which should be released later this year, though no specific date has been announced.

Listen: "Q.U.E.E.N."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Surfer Blood - Demon Dance

In their latest video, Surfer Blood's John Paul Pitts stars as a security guard who develops a crush on one of the women in the office where he works. Things get weird fast.

Surfer Blood will release their second full-length album, Pythons, in June.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Music Tuesday - 04/16/2013

New Full-Length Releases

Carla Bruni - Little French Songs

Carla Bruni has been many things; model, sometimes actress (she had a bit role in Midnight in Paris) and French first lady. Now that that last gig is over, she is returning focus to her career as a musician; this is her fourth album. Her music is surprisingly good; it's easy to dismiss music made by actors and models, possibly even easier when it's also a political figure. Let this be a lesson, though, good music can come from anywhere.

Listen: "J'arrive à toi"

Charli XCX - True Romance

I've been waiting for this moment. Charli XCX put out a seemingly endless number of singles, EPs and mixtapes over the past couple of years. So much so, I was beginning to wonder if we would ever get a full-length album out of her. The album has been in progress for a few years and was even pushed back from an April 2012 release. Well, it's finally here and I'm excited to hear the results!

Listen/Watch: "What I Like"

The Flaming Lips - The Terror

The Flaming Lips are weird, something terrifyingly so (i.e., releasing songs in a gummy fetus). What's somewhat surprising is that they haven't calmed down as they've gotten older, they may have actually gotten weirder. Between this and their last album, 2009's Embryonic, they've released singles in some strange formats (see above) and released a collaborative album with an eclectic array of other musicians. It's nice to see that all that leads to a album that's much more cohesive than all those releases.

Listen/Watch: "Try to Explain"

Iron & Wine - Ghost on Ghost

Iron & Wine started with music that was simple and very intimate, often just his voice and an acoustic guitar. His last album, Kiss Each Other Clean, marked a fairly significant change in his sound. Despite the increase in instrumentation, the music was no less personal and intimate and it ended up being one of my favorite releases in 2011. I hope that this album captures my love just as easily!

Listen/Watch: "Joy"

The Shouting Matches - Grownass Man

Justin Vernon made his name with a pseudonym, Bon Iver. The project was known for soft, somewhat ethereal vocals and sparse instrumentation. Don't let that make you believe that that's all he can do, though. With The Shouting Matches, he partners up with Phil Cook of Megafaun and Brian Moen of Peter Wolf Crier for a sound that's much more blues-influenced.

Listen: "Avery Hill"

Thee Oh Sees - Floating Coffin

This band has been insanely consistent, releasing at least one album every year since 2004. And every year, I hear amazing things about them, but have never checked them out for myself. I'm finally doing just that. From the early listens to songs on the album, it's a worthwhile decision to start listening!

Listen/Watch: "Minotaur"

Willie Nelson and Family - Let's Face the Music and Dance

At nearly 80, Willie Nelson will never go away, and I am just fine with that. He released an album, Heroes, just last year, and another Remember Me, in late 2011. He shows no signs of slowing down, though he's enlisting some help from his "Family" (which does actually include his sister) .

Listen: "Let's Face the Music and Dance"

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been around since 2000, but they didn't release their debut, Fever to Tell, until 2003. Since that album was also released in April, this serves as an anniversary release of sorts. Unlike many of their early-2000s garage rock contemporaries, they've survived into a later era. They've accomplished this by evolving their sound. Remarkably, they've managed to still sound like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs through these changes.

Listen/Watch: "Sacrilege"

Other New Releases

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Patterns EP

This band put out an album, It's a Corporate World, in 2011 that I ended up loving far more than I thought I would. I hadn't really heard much from them since, so I was pleasantly surprised when they announced this EP and potentially a new album later this year! Their music hasn't lost any of its poppy magic!

Listen/Watch: "If You Didn’t See Me (You Weren’t on the Dancefloor)"

David Bowie - Aladdin Sane 40th Anniversary Edition

Bowie introduced this iconic character and released this iconic album 40 years ago as of April 13. This 40th anniversary reissue was remastered by Ray Staff in London.

Listen: "Drive-In Saturday"

Electronic - Electronic Reissue

Electronic was a side project of The Smith's Johnny Marr (who just released a solo record) and New Order's Bernard Sumner. They released three albums together, then disbanded in 1999. This is a reissue of their debut.

Listen: "Idiot Country"

Fainting By Numbers - "Watching the Wheels"/"A Stone in the Ground"

Fainting By Numbers is a side project of Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor with German producer Justus Köhncke. The first track is (as you can probably tell from the title) a cover of a John Lennon song.

Listen/Watch: "Watching the Wheels"

Fink - "Warm Shadow"

Fink released his most recent album, Perfect Darkness, in July of 2011. The latest single from the album feature two remixes and a cover of the song by Justin Vernon and saxophonist Colin Stetson.

Listen: Colin Stetson & Justin Vernon - "Warm Shadow"

Jessie Ware - Devotion U.S. Release

Jessie Ware's debut was released across the bond way back in August. I typically hate when there's such a huge gap between release dates, but here I'm thankful for it. In the time between releases, I got the chance to discover and fall in love with this incredible songstress. We also get a handful of new songs with the release!

Listen/Watch: "Imagine It Was Us"

Morrissey - Kill Uncle Reissue

Despite one of his most iconic solo records getting a reissue today, Morrissey (also of The Smiths) has been  in the news lately for a much different reason, his outspoken views on the late Margaret Thatcher. It's Morrissey though, so we shouldn't expect any different than an opinion on everything. Back to the reissue, it is part of a remaster and reissue campaign of Morrissey's music by Parlophone Records.

Listen: "The Last of the Famous International Playboys"

Simian Mobile Disco - Live

SMD's latest release was recorded during their 2012 tour for the album Unpatterns. It got a digital release back in February and was released in physical form this week.

Listen: "A Species out of Control"

The Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake

The Way to Blue is the result of a series of tribute concerts to the late songwriter organized by his former producer, Joe Boyd. Featured on the album are Luluc, Robyn Hitchcock and Lisa Hannigan.

Listen: Lisa Hannigan - "Black Eyed Dog"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Repeat: "Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns"

If there's one truth in music, it's that a little bit of Neko Case makes everything better. The Dodos realized this and featured her on "Don't Try and Hide It" from No Color. AC Newman has, of course, realized this for years and has worked with her in the New Pornographers for fourteen years. In recording his third solo album, Shut Down the Streets, he hasn't forgotten and recorded with her on one of the tracks. Inevitably, that track is the stand-out of the record!

Listen: "Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Florence Welch makes jewelry!

Though she's a great musician with two albums under her (fabulous) belt, Florence Welch, of Florence + The Machine, has become known as quite the fashionista. She's been seen in outfits designed by the likes of Yves St. Laurent, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen, so it only makes sense that she should get into the design game herself.


Florence is starting with jewelry and, of course the result is as fabulous as she is! By the way, if anyone's wondering what to get me for my birthday, the Ceremonials 'O' Necklace (pictured above) would be a great choice!

James Blake - "Overgrown"

I'm really not trying to constantly post about James Blake, but here he is with yet another incredible music video after last week's "Voyeur." The video is pastoral and ethereal in nearly equal parts, and, if you look closely enough, you'll catch a cameo a group of Death Eaters! All kidding aside, the end result is absolutely stunning!

Blake released his most recent album, Overgrown, just this week!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Music Tuesday - April 09, 2013

New Full-Length Releases

Dawes - Stories Don't End

Dawes is an Americana/folk band with a sound that can often evoke some music from the 1970s. While I enjoyed this band's last album, Nothing Is Wrong, I kind of cringed at the lyrics for the first single from this album (track posted below). Looking at the album information, I discovered it was produced by Jacquire King, who's managed to ruin a few of my beloved bands, chiefly Cold War Kids. Hopefully, his work here doesn't signal the death knell for Dawes as it has for others.

Listen/Watch: "From a Window Seat"

James Blake - Overgrown

Despite my initial wariness of Blake, due to the hype he received his self-titled debut album in 2011, it ended up being one of my favorites for that year. He hasn't kept his fans waiting on a new album, releasing a number of singles and EPs in the interim, all having been awesome. Here, he bridges the gap between the post-dubstep sound of his debut and the more soulful sound of his EPs, growing his sound and, I hope, avoiding the sophomore slump.

Listen/Watch: "Voyeur"

The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

The Knife and its members have managed to produce some of my favorite and least favorite music of the past few years. A friend introduced me to their breakout song, "Heartbeats," which I quickly fell in love with. That love continued into a solo release from Karin Dreijer Andersson, Fever Ray. They also released an "opera" album in 2010, Tomorrow, in a Year, that I found to be almost unlistenable. If the reviews so far for this release are to be believed, this should be another one that I love!

Listen/Watch: "A Tooth for an Eye"

Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze

Kurt Vile presented this album with a great deal more fanfare than one would expect from a performer who seems so shy. It started with the album artwork itself, which was actually painted onto a building in his native Philadelphia. A few weeks ago, to celebrate the album, Vile held a parade in the city (I wish I could have been there)! It's all very interesting, not stuff you generally see, especially from independent artists. If it increases interest and curiosity in this amazing musician, though, I'm all for it!

Listen/Watch: "Wakin on a Pretty Daze"

Sad Baby Wolf - Electric Sounds

The line-up for The Shins changed drastically between the releases of Wincing the Night Away and Port of Morrow, leaving James Mercer as the last original member. Several of the former members, who contend that they were fired from The Shins, have now formed this band. Mercer's voice and songwriting were a large part of what makes The Shins' sound, so I don't expect this to be Shins 2.0, which is actually pretty exciting. I'd like to see what the other members can do away from him.

Listen: "Survival Guide"

Other New Releases

Neon Indian - ERRATA ANEX

Neon Indian (a.k.a. Alan Palomo) rode high on the "chillwave," uh, wave, with the release of his sophomore album, Era Extraña, in 2011. He returns here with a remix EP featuring tracks from that album remixed by the such producers as Actress, Twin Shadow and Boyd Rice.

Listen: "Halogen" (Boyd Rice remix)

Oblivion Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

I'm on the fence on whether I want to see the movie Oblivion. The premise looks interesting, but I got burnt out on Tom Cruise a long time ago. What I'm not unsure about, however, is that the score and soundtrack should be incredible. French musician M83 lent his considerable talents to the film, so I would see it for the score if for no other reason.

Listen: M83 - "StarWaves"

The Postal Service - Give Up Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition

The Postal Service, made up of Death Cab's Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, got together way back in 2001 and released this album of infectious indie pop in 2003. And then, that was it for the duo, they went back to their respective bands. Ten years later, they've rejoined, toured (which led to some unfounded rumors of new music), and are re-releasing their sole album.

Listen: "Turn Around"

Saturday, April 6, 2013

James Blake - "Voyeur"

James Blake takes us on a trip into a vinyl record in the video for his latest single.

Blake will be releasing his next album, Overgrown, in just a few days!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Music Tuesday - 04/02/2013

New Full-Length Releases

The Besnard Lakes - Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO

I hadn't been very familiar with this Canadian band until I discovered that the lead vocalist, Jace Lasek, produced the debut album for Suuns (my new favorite band). Although producing a great album by no means indicates that you're a great musician, I decided to hedge my bets with this one. I've been listening to their last album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, and have been loving their sound nearly as much as I love Suuns. I'd say they were a safe bet.

Listen: "People of the Sticks"

Cold War Kids - Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

Cold War Kids really captured my attention with their debut album, Robbers & Cowards, in 2006. It was indie rock with just the perfect amount of experimentation. By their third album, they had seemingly abandoned what I loved about them in favor of a more accessible (read: generic) sound. I really didn't like it, enough so that I skipped their set at my first Bonnaroo. I'm hoping that this is a bit of a return for them, especially since they picked up a new member in former-Modest Mouse Dann Gallucci.

Listen: "Miracle Mile"

EmptyMansions - snakes/vultures/sulfate

Hey, if Paul Banks can release solo material, so can the other members of Interpol! While Interpol is on hiatus, Sam Fogarino has focused on this side project. Unlike Banks' side work which was in a similar vein to the main band, EmptyMansions takes on a more gothic approach. I guess now we just wait and see if Daniel Kessler puts out any solo work!

Listen/Watch: "That Man"

io echo - Ministry of Love

OK, so I may have lied (or been misinformed) when I included this album on my new releases post back in September. At least this explains why I had so much trouble finding any evidence of the album's existence after its supposed release. Anyways, this is the first album from the band that has teased us with a series of singles, EPs and commercial appearances over the past four years.

Listen/Watch: "Berlin It's All a Mess"

Pick a Piper - Pick a Piper

Pick a Piper is the project of Brad Weber, live drummer for the electronic band Caribou. The band has released a handful of EPs online and this is their first album. Like the affiliated Caribou, the music takes on an electronic sound.

Listen/Watch: "All Her Colours"

Tyler, the Creator - Wolf

I've weeble-wobbled a bit on whether to check out Tyler's music. He's been a bit controversial, having expressed homophobic and misogynistic views on his earlier albums. I'm in no way condoning his prior work, but there have been some  indications that he's matured in the past couple of years. I've also been really into the work of other members of Odd Future, especially Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean. I like what I've heard from this album, even though I find the video for "IFHY" terrifying.

Listen/Watch: "IFHY"

Other New Releases

The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver

Even 15 years after his death, John Denver's music is still highly influential. This tribute album includes rerecordings of original Denver music by the likes of Brandi Carlile, My Morning Jacket, and J. Mascis with Sharon van Etten. Something tells me I'll be checking out the originals very soon.

Listen: J. Mascis & Sharon van Etten - "Prisoners"

Rilo Kiley - rkives

Rilo Kiley announced their disbandment about two years ago. When this release was announced, however, there was a lot of hope that it indicated a reunification for the group. Alas, that was not to be, though this is all new (to the rest of us) music. It's a lovely send-off for the band, a proper goodbye.

Listen/Watch: "Let Me Back In"