Monday, October 28, 2013

R.I.P. Lou Reed

This is a very sad post for me to write. Yesterday, at the age of 71, Lou Reed passed away. Reed was a founder and the lead singer (until about 1971) for the influential band The Velvet Underground. He's been credited with creating a sound that led to the eventual popularity of punk, new wave, and grunge and has often considered to have been ahead of his time. Even after his departure from The Velvet Underground, he continued to create influential recordings and gained one commercial hit with "Walk on the Wild Side." He also continued to push the boundaries of what was expected from him as an artist; case in point, 2011's Lulu with Metallica.

Reed passed away from liver disease following a liver transplant earlier this year.

Goodbye, Lou Reed, you will be greatly missed!

The Velvet Underground - "Pale Blue Eyes"
Lou Reed - "Heavenly Arms"
Lou Reed & Metallica - "Brandenburg Gate"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Music Tuesday - 10/08/2013

New Full-Length Releases

Anna Calvi - One Breath

While I started listening to Anna Calvi following the release of her eponymous debut album in 2011, it wasn't until I heard the early singles off this release that I really started to fall in love. Though she already had a strong, independent vibe going, it felt even stronger leading into her follow up. I've had a couple of weeks to listen to this album and to absolutely fall in love with it!

Listen/Watch: "Sing to Me"

Cage the Elephant - Melophobia

Cage the Elephant burst onto the scene in 2008 with their raucous and rebellious self-titled debut. Unfortunately, their follow-up, Thank You, Happy Birthday, didn't have quite the same magic. They sounded like a band that wanted to grow their sound, but didn't know how. I think they've figured it out with this one. While it still maintains much of what made their music so much fun in the first go-around, they also sound a bit more mature.

Listen/Watch: "Come a Little Closer"

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - The Speed of Things

This band has such a deceptive name. On paper, you think you're going to get something incredibly silly, or really country. While some of their songs, and definitely most of their music videos, do have a certain silliness to them, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. may be one of the most talented  pop/indie rock bands out there. They demonstrate great lyrics, harmonies and melodies. All this, and they're still a lot of fun to listen to!

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

The Fratellis - We Need Medicine

As I said last week, I thought that this band was done for. Like with Cage the Elephant, they released an awesome debut and followed it up with something very disappointing. And, like Cage the Elephant, the latest is a bit of a return to what they do well. I'm pretty happy to see The Fratellis return to form. They had released what was probably one of my favorite (and the most fun) albums of the British indie rock surge and they are nearly back to that sound here.

Listen/Watch: "Seven Nights Seven Days"

Frog Eyes - Carey's Cold Spring

The announcement of this latest album from Frog Eyes also came with some tragic news; frontman Carey Mercer had been diagnosed with throat cancer. Because of this, the band may not be touring in support of the record. Whatever happens in the bands future, and I'm sure all are praying for a successful recovery, they've put out a great record here.

Listen/Watch: "Claxxon's Lament"

Glasser - Interiors

I wasn't sure of how big a name Glasser really was. I stumbled across her debut album, Ring, a couple of years ago, but it didn't seem like I saw her name in very many places. I was scared I wouldn't know when she released a follow up. Thankfully, her name seemed to be everywhere when this album was announced. She's one of the few great experimental female artists, and I'm excited to see how she's grown on this follow up!

Listen/Watch: "Design"

Lee Ranaldo and the Dust - Last Night on Earth

All former members of Sonic Youth seem to be keeping themselves pretty busy, and Lee Ranaldo, the band's guitarist is no different. He released Between the Times and the Tides last year, and wasted no time in releasing this follow up. In contrast to the music put out by his former bandmates, his music is relatively lowkey; the others have maintained a closer tie to the band's punk aesthetics. I like it when artists step away from their bands and release something completely different.

Listen: "Ambulancer"

of Montreal - lousy with sylvianbriar

of Montreal are the purveyors of crazy, eclectic music accompanied by crazy album covers and even crazier live shows. For their latest offering, they home recorded on a 24-track tape machine (for a more vintage vibe) and have taken on a slight country sound. So, making their music even more eclectic than it already it. They're consistently one of the weirdest and most fun bands to listen to and this album should be no different!

Listen/Watch: "Fugitive Air"

Pusha T - My Name Is My Name

My self-education of hip hop continues! I first became familiar with Pusha T on last year's Cruel Summer compilation from GOOD Music. His was one of my favorite voices on the release and I decided that I wanted to hear more. It feels like I've been waiting for forever for this album, though. I heard the first single (below) way back in March and have been on pins and needles ever since. It's finally here and I think I might have a new favorite rapper!

Listen/Watch: "Numbers on the Boards"

Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals

When Sleigh Bells released their first album, Treats, in 2010, they seemed a bit like they would be a flash in the pan. Sure, they released something that was fairly unique, but it didn't seem like it would be a sound people would be interested in past one album. But they proved me wrong; they successfully grew their sound into a follow up, Reign of Terror, and again here. They've maintained the loud, feedback-heavy guitars, but there's enough else there to give them some longevity.

Listen/Watch: "Bitter Rivals"

Other New Releases

Albert Hammond, Jr. - AHJ EP

Throughout the releases of the last two Strokes albums, I've really been wishing for more side work from its members. Well, here's the first release since the band released 2011's Angles and thank God (my hopes for their return was not matched by the output)! I can only hope this means more solo work from the other members, especially Fab Moretti's Little Joy!

Listen/Watch: "St. Justice"

How I Live Now Soundtrack

How I Live Now is a 2013 film about a neurotic US teenager sent to live with family in the UK in the midst of war (that's about all I know about it since I've only seen a trailer). In true fashion for British cinema, it has what promises to be an incredible soundtrack, provided by electronic artist Jon Hopkins. It also includes tracks from Amanda Palmer and Natasha Khan (aka Bat for Lashes). So yeah, pretty awesome!

Listen/Watch: Natasha Khan & Jon Hopkins - "Garden's Heart"

Parquet Courts - Tally All the Things That You Broke EP

I jumped on the Parquet Courts bandwagon a little bit late. They released their second full-length, Light Up Gold, last year, but I only started listening this year. It's good punk music, though. This is their follow up to that critically successful album.

Listen/Watch: "You Got Me Wonderin' Now"

Passion Pit - Constant Conversations EP

Passion Pit released a pretty decent sophomore album, Gossamer, in summer of last year. "Constant Conversations" was one of the singles from that album and now it's getting the inevitable remix treatment. The EP features a remix from Dillon Francis and a pair of new tracks.

Listen/Watch: "Constant Conversations"


Red Hot is an organization which promotes AIDS awareness. Over the 23 years, they have released compilation albums, always featuring a diverse selection of artists performing songs with a particular theme. This album features musicians such as tUnE-yArDs, Sinkane and My Morning Jacket performing covers of songs by the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.

Listen: tUnE-yArDs, ?uestlove, Angelique Kidjo, Akua Naru - “Lady”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Music Tuesday - 10/01/2013

New Full-Length Releases

Blitzen Trapper - VII

Blitzen Trapper has that sound that is often both familiar and new. They harken back to country and folk music of the 1970s, but there's enough experimentation (and Eric Earley's unique voice) that make their music like nothing else. VII is their seventh album (not creative, but there's a precedent for bands releasing albums like this). This album sees the band returning a bit, in sound, to the critically successful Wild Mountain Nation and Furr releases.

Listen/Watch: "Girl in a Coat"

The Blow - The Blow

iTunes' single give-aways used to be the best things ever. When I started college, it was one of my primary ways of discovering new music. The Blow was one of my early discoveries. Since 2005, the make-up of the band has shifted slightly. At the time that Paper Television was released, singer Khaela Maricich was joined by Jona Bechtolt, who would leave in 2007 and created YACHT. Now, Khaela is accompanied by Melissa Dyne. Regardless of who her current bandmate is, her sound is still strong.

Listen: "Make It Up"

Brendan Canning - You Gots 2 Chill

I don't know what it is about Canadian indie rock bands, but it always seems like their members have just as active solo careers as that they have with the band. Broken Social Scene is absolutely no exception. Kevin Drew, Amy Millan and Feist have all been members of BSS along with Brendan Canning. All have had very active solo careers; this is Canning's second solo release, though he's had four other projects since starting Broken Social Scene.

Listen/Watch: "Plugged In"

The Field - Cupid's Head

The Field is a Swedish electronic musician who's become known for using extremely small samples of pop music. This is his forth album, though it wasn't an easy one for him to make. He knew he needed a new release, but felt uncomfortable trying to force it out in a studio setting. After he gave it some time, he finally got back into the groove of things, and the result is this critically acclaimed album.

Listen: "They Won't See Me"

HAIM - Days Are Gone

I found out something very interesting about HAIM today. Apparently, the two oldest sisters used to be members of a pop band, the Valli Girls. In true mid-2000s style, it was not very good music. The sisters were raised on a wide variety of great music, though, and they wear those influences on their sleeves. Already, they've garnered comparisons to Stevie Nicks and En Vogue (which is a pretty interesting mix of styles). They've grown up to a wonderful and unique style of music!

Listen/Watch: "The Wire"

Johnny Flynn - Country Mile

I got into Johnny's music around the same time I started listening to Laura Marling. The two almost seem to be the opposite-sex counterparts to each other and have worked fairly extensively together. It should be no secret by now that Laura Marling is one of my favorites. Both artists are expert storytellers, excellent at the acoustic guitar and great singers. 2013 is proving to be a great year for the pair.

Listen/Watch: "The Lady Is Risen"

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2

James Brown used to be "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," but since he died back in 2006, we've needed someone to take up the helm. I think Justin Timberlake could be an easy shoo-in for the title. He released the first part of this album earlier this year, has two movies slated for release and continues to maintain his charity work and fashion line. He keeps himself pretty busy, but still manages to put out some decent work. Definitely a very hard worker!

Listen/Watch: "Take Back the Night"

Lorde - Pure Heroine

I wasn't going to include this young artist until I listened to a recent segment about her on NPR. It was at that moment I realized that I really liked her breakout single, "Royals," despite my efforts to generally avoid Top-40 music. It's not often that I have much confidence in music released by teenagers, but this girl is actually a good writer and singer. She's off to a great start in her career, and I only expect more good things.

Listen/Watch: "Royals"

Moby - Innocents

Moby has been around seemingly forever. He helped to make dance and electronic music more mainstream through the early- to mid-1990s and has consistently released new music ever since. Innocents is his eleventh album.

Listen/Watch: "The Perfect Life"

Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus Seven

I started listening to Oneohtrix Point Never (a.k.a. Daniel Lopatin) last year when he released Instrumental Tourist with Tim Hecker. He perfectly complemented Hecker's ambient style and I figured that, if I enjoy Tim's music and I enjoy the music that they make together, I should check out Daniel's solo work. Good choice, I think.

Listen/Watch: "Problem Areas"

Saint Rich - Beyond the Drone

Saint Rich is an off-shoot of one of my favorite instrumental (mostly) bands, Delicate Steve. It consists of lead Steve Marion and one of the members of his touring band, Christian Peslak. To sweeten the pot, Anand Wilder (of Yeasayer fame) has also contributed to this album. Saint Rich will feature more lyrics than Marion's main act, and won't have guitar riffs that are nearly as melodic. However, I have enough faith in the man's music that I expect this to be just as good.

Listen/Watch: "Officer"

Sub Focus - Torus

Sub Focus is the moniker of British electronic producer Nick Douwma. As seems to often be the case with these artists (see: Naughty Boy, Disclosure), he has worked with a number of other performers on his albums. What caught my ear on this record was a song, "Turn It Around," recorded with Kele (of Bloc Party fame). There's a number of other artists featured here that I'm not as familiar with, but I plan to be soon.

Listen/Watch: "Turn It Around"

Those Darlins - Blur the Line

Those Darlins caused quite a stir in promoting this latest album in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. The album artwork, blown up many times, was displayed outside of Grimey's Record Store. It caused some controversy due to the nudity on the cover. One good thing about controversy, even if unintended, is the attention it can bring to a band. And attention is something that this excellent rock and roll band deserves!

Listen/Watch: "Optimist"

Yuck - Glow & Behold

Earlier this year, Yuck lost their lead singer, Daniel Blumberg, who released his own album under the name Hebronix in July. They have soldiered on without him though, and are releasing their sophomore album. While the loss of Blumberg is certainly a detriment, he wasn't the only thing that made their music great. It's good to see them continuing on anyways.

Listen/Watch: "Middle Sea"

Other New Releases

Anna Calvi - "Eliza"/"A Kiss to Your Twin"

Anna Calvi is becoming one of my new favorite rock queens. She releases her sophomore album, One Breath, on October 8, but in anticipation, here is a single from that album.

Listen/Watch: "Eliza"

Basement Jaxx - What a Difference Your Love Makes Remixes

Basement Jaxx is one of the great electronic bands of this century. "What a Difference Your Love Makes" was a non-album single released earlier this year. This EP features remixes of the song by Miguel Campbell and Huxley, as well as another new song, "Mermaid of Salinas."

Listen/Watch: "What a Difference Your Love Makes"

Beatles Reimagined

The Beatles are one of those classic bands that no one could ever hope to top. Covers never seem to do them justice, but we're getting a whole album of them anyways. Perhaps the most prominent cover comes from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

Listen: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - "I Saw Her Standing There"

Boardwalk Empire Volume 2: Music from the HBO Original Series

Boardwalk Empire is on my shortlist of shows to check out (read binge watch). I've heard many good things about the series and the caliber of artists on the second season soundtrack convince me that this is definitely one to check out. The soundtrack features tracks by Elvis Costello, St. Vincent, Patti Smith and Matt Berninger (of The National).

Listen: Matt Berninger - "I'll See You in My Dreams"

The Crookes - Hold Fast U.S. Release

I've actually been listening to this album for more than a year now, since it was originally released in the UK back in July of 2012. The Crookes got onto my radar a couple of years when they were featured in a Nylon magazine feature on British indie rock bands. After listening to "Bloodshot Days," they became one of my favorites. It's just a shame that American releases sometimes come so long after the albums' releases overseas.

Listen/Watch: "Afterglow"

The Fratellis - "Seven Nights Seven Days"

I had made the assumption recently that The Fratellis had broken up; it's been five years since the release of Here We Stand and the band had kind of ridden in on the British indie rock craze. Well, they release a new album, We Need Medicine, next week and a new single this week.

Listen/Watch: "Seven Nights Seven Days"

Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band - Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band EP

Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band is another offshoot of a great band, in this case TV on the Radio. Tunde Adebimpe formed this band with Lone Wolf's Ryan Sawyer. His unique voice makes this new band familiar, and it's always awesome to see what artists do in a new environment.

Listen: "The Blast The Bloom"

Matt & Kim - Lightning Remixes

Matt & Kim released their fourth album, Lightning, about a year ago. I guess this remix album is supposed to serve as the one-year anniversary of the release. The album has remixes from DJ Venom, Druids and Bonde Do Role.

Listen: "It's Alright" (DJ Venom Remix)

Stars - "Wishful"/"The Light"

It's been about a year since Stars released their excellent latest album, The North. They're following it up with a pair of new songs. No follow-up record or EP has been announced, but this should tide us over while we wait.

Listen: "Wishful"

Two Door Cinema Club - Changing of the Seasons EP

Two Door Cinema Club have already announced that they plan to release a new album, a follow-up to last year's Beacon, in early 2015. That doesn't mean we won't get new music from them in the meantime. "Changing of the Seasons" is a brand new track from them and the accompanying EP has even more new music!

Listen/Watch: "Changing of the Seasons"

Volcano Choir - Comrade Remix EP

Justin Vernon's Volcano Choir released an excellent album earlier this year. This is the inevitable remix treatment of one of the tracks from that album, featuring All Tiny Creatures.

Listen/Watch: "Comrade"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Music Tuesday - September 24, 2013

New Full-Length Releases

Au Revoir Simone - Move in Spectrums

Au Revoir Simone is a dream pop band out of Brooklyn (where so much good indie music comes from). They've released three albums before this latest, though they've never been a huge love of mine. Dream pop can often be fairly timid and they seemed especially so. The songs I've heard from this record so far, though, feel a lot more bombastic and confident than those on past releases.

Listen/Watch: "Crazy"

Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe

Every band's best friend (or worst enemy), hype, pops up big time for this act. Chvrches is a Glaswegian electronic/pop band. They started getting attention in 2012 with the release of the singles "Lies" and "The Mother We Share," which brought them a lot of positive press. They released an excellent EP, Recover, earlier this year, but the release of their debut album is especially exciting. It's gotten some great reviews and I expect it to be one of my favorites, as well.

Listen/Watch: "The Mother We Share"

Deer Tick - Negativity

2012 was a stressful year for Deer Tick's John J. McCauley III. His father went to prison and his marriage engagement ended. Rather than withdraw and wallow in self-pity (which is what I would probably do), he converted his emotions into writing this record. The best music is often the most personal, but it can sometimes also be the hardest to listen to. I do hope that the same can be said of this record (being among the best of Deer Tick's work, not being difficult to listen to).

Listen/Watch: "The Rock"

Drake - Nothing Was the Same

If you had told me six years ago that Jimmy from DeGrassi: The Next Generation would become one of the 2010s most popular rappers, I probably would have laughed. Drake's popularity, and the quality of his work, have come as a great surprise to me, and I'm sure, many other former DeGrassi fans. I guess there is a precedent for former child stars making good music, just look at Jenny Lewis. Drake's rap career have brought him three excellent albums (this one included).

Listen/Watch: "Hold On, We're Going Home"

Frankie Rose - Herein Wild

Frankie Rose released one of my favorite albums, Interstellar, last year. I was not surprised to find out that she had once been a part of a couple of my other favorite bands, Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls. I'm a little nervous for this release. You see, sometimes, when a fan and an album fall in love, a certain type of bond is formed. It isn't always easy to convert that love when a new album is released. Frankie is so amazing, though, that I know I shouldn't fear too much!

Listen: "Sorrow"

The Internet - Feel Good

The Odd Future gang became so associated with sexism and homophobia a couple of years ago, that it was, and still is, easy to ignore that there are members of the collective that are both gay (Frank Ocean) and female (Syd tha Kid). Along with Matt Martians, Syd forms The Internet, one of the many Odd Future subgroups. This group creates music containing elements of trip hop and neo-soul. It provides a good reminder that the collective creates a truly diverse variety of music.

Listen/Watch: "Don'tcha"

Oh Land - Wishbone

Oh Land is a new artist for me. By chance, I checked out her song and video for "Renaissance Girls" and few weeks ago and really liked the sound. She reminded me a lot of Sia, which is fitting, since Sia is a featured artist here. It's been awhile since I've listened to this style of pop, so I'm thinking Oh Land will bring me back into it!

Listen/Watch: "Renaissance Girls"

Pink Martini - Get Happy

This band may seem like an odd choice for someone mostly interested in indie rock and starting to appreciate hip hop and electronics, but Pink Martini has been a long-time love for me. They make jazzy, classical, almost lounge-type music. I started listening to them in college since they made such great studying music and have loved them ever since.

Listen: "Ich Dich Liebe"

Other New Releases

The Fresh and Onlys - Soothsayer EP

I haven't listened much to The Fresh & Onlys yet, but ever since I fell in love with Cloud Nothing's sophomore album last year, I've been searching for more great noise/punk rock. The Fresh & Onlys released a full-length album, Long Slow Dance, last year. I've been listening to that some and really liking the sound. And no, I don't know the story behind this cover art.

Listen: "God of Suez"

Grand Theft Auto V Soundtrack

I started playing serious video games last year when I discovered that they were a great distraction from real-life problems. I haven't had the pleasure to play the latest GTA game yet, but I can already appreciate the music in the game. The gamemakers recruited some great rock, hip hop and electronic artists for the game. It features Wavves, A$AP Rocky and Flying Lotus, among others. Who knew you could discover new music from video games?

Listen: Clams Casino - "Crystals"

Haim - "The Wire"

Haim has been subject to a lot of hype over the past year. The sister trio are preparing their debut album for next week, but, in anticipation, here's a single from the record!

Listen/Watch: "The Wire"

Nirvana - In Utero 20th Anniversary Edition

Most people's first thought with Nirvana is usually "Smells Like Team Spirit" and the album Nevermind. While that was a great album, it's sometimes easy to forget that In Utero was almost as iconic an album from the band. 20 years after it was originally released, it is getting the requisite anniversary release.

Listen/Watch: "Heart Shaped Box"

Peter Gabriel - And I'll Scratch Yours

In 2010, Peter Gabriel released Scratch My Back, in which he covered songs from a wide range of artists, including Bon Iver, Randy Newman and Arcade Fire. This album features many of those artists returning the favor. The artists that he covered three years ago cover his songs on this release.

Listen/Watch: Bon Iver - "Come Talk to Me"

Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania: Live in NYC

The Smashing Pumpkins are still going strong after 25 years, although Billy Corgan is the only member remaining from the original line-up. They released their eighth studio album, Oceania, last year. In December of last year, they performed the album in full at the Barclay's Center in New York. This is the recording of that concert.

Listen/Watch: "Quasar" (Live)