Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New Music Tuesday - March 31, 2015

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

New Full-Length Albums

Boxed In - Boxed In

Boxed In is the project of songwriter and producer Oli Bayston. He has worked with Rosie Lowe, The Voyeurs, and The 2 Bears in the past, but after so many years of working behind the scenes in the British music industry, he is moving out front. This is his debut album.

Watch: "Mystery"
Watch: "Foot of the Hill"

Death Cab for Cutie - Kintsugi

Death Cab's last record, Codes and Keys, was just about the worst-received of their career. Many accused the album of being too happy; it was recorded in the midst of frontman Ben Gibbards' marriage to Zooey Deschanel. Now, four years after their divorce, it seems like some of the bitterness and angst has returned. While they may never replicate the music they were releasing ten years ago, this seems like a return to something a bit better.

Watch: "Black Sun"
Watch: "No Room in Frame"

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress

Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress is the fifth album from this influential and cult-popular Canadian band. It follows their Polaris-winning 2013 album, Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!. Though the band sticks with the epically long tracks that they've become known for (the shortest song on this one is six minutes long), this is only their second album to clock in at under 45 minutes.

Listen: "Peasantry Or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’"
Listen: "Piss Crowns Are Trebled"

Jesse Malin - New York Before the War

Jesse Malin is a rock and roll performer who has fronted the bands D Generation and Heart Attack. He has also also had a long solo career, releasing his first EP, 169, in 2000. While he built his career working with Ryan Adams, on his latest record (his seventh overall) he gets some help from R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, who plays guitar on "I Would Do It for You."

Watch: "Addicted"
Listen: "Heart of Gold"

Lower Dens - Escape from Evil

Although I've enjoyed Lower Dens' music, I've always compared them to Beach House both on overall style and on the Jana Hunter's vocals. It was, however, a comparison on which they came up a bit short. I think their latest record finally differentiates them from that other band. While it's still dream pop, it seems more assertive than their past work.

Watch: "To Die in L.A."
Watch: "Ondine"

Madeon - Adventure

In recent years, young British artists have taken over the electronic and house scene. Madeon (aka Hugo Leclercq) is looking to bring it back south to France. The young producer from Nantes has previously worked with the likes of Zedd, deadmau5, and Two Door Cinema Club. Like many studio albums from producers, his debut features of bevy both popular and independent guest vocalists. The artists featured here range from Nicholas Petricca (of Walk the Moon) to Mark Foster to Passion Pit.

Watch: "Pay No Mind" (featuring Passion Pit)
Watch: "You’re On" (featuring Kyan)

Marching Church - This World Is Not Enough

Elias Rønnenfelt may have just release three albums in the span of four years with his band Iceage, but he's got more up his sleeve. He officially formed Marching Church as a band with other Danish musicians in 2013, though he's been performing solo under the name since 2010. While there are similarities to Iceage on this debut, Marching Church's sound feels more experimental and has an improvisational feel to it.

Watch: "Hungry for Love"
Watch: "King of Song"

Ringo Starr - Postcards from Paradise

Starr always seems to be a somewhat forgotten Beatle. Though he's had a respectable solo career, he gets less attention than his former bandmates and was the last to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his solo work (though he did make it just this year!). His 18th album comes right in time to celebrate the milestone in his career.

Watch: "Postcards from Paradise"
Listen: "Not Looking Back"

Simon Joyner - Grass, Branch & Bone

Simon Joyner is a Nebraskan singer and songwriter who's been active for over twenty years. He has not been a very prolific artist, preferring to stay quiet in between records. He releases a new album every few years; Grass, Branch & Bone is his 13th.

Listen: "Nostalgia Blues"

The Soft Moon - Deeper

The Soft Moon is the musical project of Luis Vasquez; the music combines a broad range of styles including EDM, dark wave, and krautrock. He's always been a solo act, but had previously intended for this third album to be a broader effort with more songwriters. His music is very personal, though, and he realized that The Soft Moon would always need to be a solo project. The result is an album that may be his most personal yet.

Watch: "Far"
Watch: "Black"

The Staves - If I Was

Time to add another rung to the Bon Iver ladder. This band is one of the first who are not tied to his early days in the Wisconsin music scene. The Staves are a trio of sisters from Watford, England. For the sisters' sophomore album, Justin Vernon contributed production work, songwriting, and even some guest appearances. It's a combination that works extremely well, and it's always good to have a new artist to be excited about.

Watch: "Black & White"
Watch: "Blood I Bled"

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

Much of the music that Sufjan Stevens has made throughout his career has been a kind of low-key folk. On his last album, 2010's The Age of Adz, he went far away from that sound with a much more experimental and electronic style. It became my favorite album of his. I was a little wary when it was announced that the next would be a return to the folk style (not that it wouldn't be good, I just really liked the last one). The album is a great, though somewhat difficult listen, and a wonderful follow-up.

Watch: "Should Have Known Better"
Watch: "No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross"

Upset - '76

Ali Koehler has not been hurting as an artist since her unceremonious departure from Best Coast in 2011. She formed Upset in 2013 with Patty Schemel (formerly of Hole) and released their debut album, She's Gone, that same year. The band is back with a sophomore album, on which they've expanded their line-up with members of Benny The Jet Rodriguez and Slutever.

Listen: "Glass Ceiling"

Other New Releases

iLoveMakonnen - Drink More Water 5

iLoveMakonnen likely scored his biggest hit with his ode to weekday clubbing, "Tuesday." He remains fairly prolific with a steady stream of EPs and mixtapes. This latest is the fifth just within the Drink More Water series; he's released many more mixtapes in addition.

Listen: "Drink More Water 5" (freestyle)
Listen: "Super Clean"

Memory Tapes - "Fallout"/"House on Fire"

It's been a couple of years since Davye Hawk released his last album, 2012's Grace/Confusion. While no follow-up has been announced, he's making sure that fans don't forget him with a pair of new songs.

Listen: "Fallout"
Listen: "House on Fire"

Ride - OX4 Reissue

Ride is a British band who formed in 1988 and included a future member of Oasis, bassist Andy Bell. They parted ways in 1996, but reunited for a bit in 2001. The came together again last year and are now reissuing their 2001 greatest hits compilation.

Watch: "Chelsea Girl"
Listen: "Drive Blind"

Ryan Adams - "Blue Light" 7"

Ryan Adams continues his prolific streak with yet another 7" release. The inspirations for this one are varied, including The Strokes, Chris Farley, and smartphones. It's an interesting combination of influences, but if it keeps new music coming from the man, I'll make no complaints.

Listen: "Blue Light"

Underworld - "Baby Wants to Ride" 12"

Although they've been around consistently for more than 30 years, it seems that British band Underworld has had a bit of resurgence lately, perhaps due to frontman Karl Hyde's work with Brian Eno. This new single is their first release as a band in five years and is a cover of a song by  the late Frankie Knuckles.

Listen: "Baby Wants to Ride"

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Peter Morén - "The Odyssey"

It's been quite a while since we've gotten new music from Peter Bjorn and John (aside from a recent Record Store Day release), but frontman Peter Morén has kept himself busy over the past couple of years. He's been releasing the Broken Swenglish EP series, which consist of English-language versions of some of his previous solo work, which was originally recorded in his native Swedish.

For the video accompanying "The Odyssey," which appeared on the second EP, he plays every member of a fictional backing band. He then leads a group of pedestrians on an impromptu dance parade down the street. It's an amusing video and one that he appears to have had a lot of fun filming.

Broken Swenglish, Vol. 2 was released on October 7 of last year.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

New Music Tuesday - March 24, 2015

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

New Full-Length Releases

Action Bronson - Mr. Wonderful

This latest album from former chef and rapper Action Bronson is billed as hit debut studio album, though he already has two previous albums, and numerous mixtapes, beneath his belt. It is his debut on a major label; he signed with Atlantic Records in 2013. On the record, the Albanian-American works with Mark Ronson, The Alchemist, Chance The Rapper, and many others.

Watch: "Baby Blue"
Watch: "Actin Crazy"

Big Data - 2.0

Big Data is the electronic music project of Alan Wilkis. Though this album, with feature spots from the likes of Jamie Lidell and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, was the first I had ever heard of him, he has previously reached number one on the Billboard charts with 2013's "Dangerous." For someone with a number one single, he sure seems to be aiming more for the indie audience with this record; in addition to the names mentioned above, White Sea, Twin Shadow, Bear Hands, and Jenn Wasner are also featured on the record.

Watch: "Clean" (featuring Jamie Lidell)
Watch: "Snowed In" (featuring Rivers Cuomo)

Chastity Belt - Time to Go Home

There have been a lot of jangly surf rock bands surfacing over the past few years (Jaill, The Drums, Real Estate), but the subgenre has been largely a boys' game. Chastity Belt is an all-girl band from Seattle who are proving that the ladies can jangle right along with the men. This is the band's sophomore album.

Watch: "Cool Slut"
Watch: "Time to Go Home"

Chilly Gonzales - Chambers

If there's one thing that seems common among Canadian musicians, it's that they work together frequently. Gonzales himself his often collaborated with Feist, Peaches, and Mocky. His latest album is largely a solo effort, though he does get some help on a couple of compositions. If you want more from Gonzales, be sure to check out his Pop Music Masterclass series on You-Tube, in which he deftly explains the appeal of popular music in music theory terms.

Watch: "Advantage Points"
Listen: "Sweet Burden"

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

This Australian musician has mastered the art of the mundane. Her lyrics aren't boring, not by a long shot, but she focuses on the issues and concerns of everyday life. She received a great deal of praise for her previous release, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, which was a combination of her first two releases. She was looking to meet a lot of expectations with her first full-length, which she has easily done.

Watch: "Pedestrian at Best"
Watch: "Depreston"

The Cribs - For All My Sisters

For All My Sisters is the sixth studio album from this British band of brothers. It's the band's first album since creating their own record label, Sonic Blew, in a deal with Sony RED UK; they were previously signed to Wichita Records. The album was produced by another iconic rock performer, Ric Ocasek.

Watch: "Burning for No One"
Listen: "An Ivory Hand"

Earl Sweatshirt - I Don’t Do Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Ever since Beyoncé surprise released her 2013 eponymous record, a number of artists have been following suit, though with varying levels of forewarning. Sweatshirt's latest record was announced a week before its release. The announcement was botched by Sony. He has intended to release the music video for "Grief" as a teaser, then announce the record. The label mixed the two up, and left their artist less than pleased. Still, it's an incredible record and a more than worthy follow-up to Doris.

Watch: "Grief"
Listen: "Wool"

JEFF The Brotherhood - Wasted in the Dream

This brother duo has been quite prolific in their 14 years performing together. Wasted on the Dream is their eighth album. They has a bit of a break-out with their previous, Hypnotic Nights, which was produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and was their first to enter the Billboard 200 (it peaked at #198). The follow-up was intended to be their major-label debut; they even received funding from Warner Bros. Then, for some reason, they were dropped from the label. Good new though, the album was already completed and they were able to release it on their own.

Listen: "Coat Check Girl"
Listen: "What’s a Creep"

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly

Although three incredible hip hop albums were released this week, it seems like an exercise in futility to try to compete against Kendrick's magnum opus. The album is already being touted as a strong contender for 2015's album of the year (in terms of year-end reviews, not necessarily the Grammys). The record is definitely a game-changer, with a funk and jazz base and themes of self-doubt, humility, and hypocrisy.

Watch: "i"
Watch: "King Kunta"

Laura Marling - Short Movie

Like so many folk artists before her have done, Laura Marling plugged in for her latest record. After four albums of acoustic guitar mastery, she has traded that in for a gorgeous white Fender (see the "False Hope" video below for a glimpse). Along with a new pixie cut, all this seems to signal a new era for Marling as an alt-rock chanteuse. She maintains the same appeal, though; the songs are expertly written and her warm vocals remain.

Watch: "False Hope"
Watch: "Short Movie"

Mini Mansions - The Great Pretenders

Mini Mansions is a side project formed by Queen's of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shurman when the band took a short break following the Era Vulgaris tour. But be warned, the band sounds nothing like what Shurman creates with QoTSA. Their sound is pure indie pop, with a bit of 60s-inspired psychedelia thrown in. Perhaps it's for this reason that they've attracted some impressive guest vocals on the record; including Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson.

Watch: "Any Emotions" (featuring Brian Wilson)
Watch: "Vertigo" (featuring Alex Turner)

Sonnymoon - The Courage of Present Times

An astonishing number of singers seem to get their first exposure providing vocal hooks on hip hop tracks. Such is the case for Sonnymoon, whose vocalist, Anna Wise, was featured on Kendrick Lamar's "Money Trees." She also appears on his new album. This is the third album from the duo, who have been working together since 2008.

Listen: "Pop Music"
Listen: "Grains of Friends"

Van Morrison - Duets: Re-working the Catalogue

Van Morrison has a career that spans more than a half century and includes a number of great and iconic songs. He is revisiting many of these songs on his 35th studio album. He's mixing it up by re-recording the songs with a variety of other musicians, both his contemporaries and those who came after. Featured on the record are Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole, Bobby Womack, and Mavis Staples.

Listen: "Real Real Gone" (featuring Michael Bublé)
Listen: "Some Peace of Mind" (featuring Bobby Womack)

Other New Releases

Johnny Cash - American Recordings Box Set

Towards the end of his long career, Johnny Cash released a series of American Recordings albums, of which he recorded six. Twelve year after his death, and just five after the final American Recordings release, all of those recordings are being collected into this box set.

Listen: "God’s Gonna Cut You Down"
Listen: "The Man Comes Around"

Kelela - Cut 4 Me Reissue

Ethiopian-American musician Kelela released her break-out mixtape, Cut 4 Me, back in October of 2013. The tape found its way onto numerous year-end lists. This year, it is getting the re-release treatment, with eight additional remixes added to the original 13 tracks.

Listen: "Something Else"
Listen: "Cherry Coffee"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Music Tuesday - March 17, 2015

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

New Full-Length Releases

Marina and The Diamonds - Froot

With her sophomore album, 2012's Electra Heart, Marina Diamandis seemed to be aiming for mainstream pop stardom, working with A-list producers like Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco. On her follow-up, she's regaining some control over her music; she wrote and produced the album. Because of this, the album feels more personal and reflective, and might just be her best work yet!

Watch: "I’m a Ruin"
Watch: "Forget"

Modest Mouse - Strangers to Ourselves

Although Modest Mouse has been consistently performing for more than twenty years (frequent line-up changes notwithstanding), it's been eight years since the release of their last record, We Were Dead Before This Ship Even Sank. Despite that gap, they don't seem interested in making fans wait again; two albums' worth of material was recorded during the sessions and they plan to release a follow-up as soon as they are able.

Watch: "Coyotes"
Watch: "Lampshades on Fire"

Tobias Jesso Jr. - Goon

Canadian piano-man Tobias Jesso Jr. is being hailed as a next-generation Randy Newman or Harry Nilsson. He began his career as a member of The Sessions and then as backing musician for other pop singers. He eventually embarked on his own solo career and got help from some big names for his debut. John Collins (New Pornographers), JR White (Girls), and Patrick Carney (The Black Keys) all provided production for the record.

Watch: "How Could You Babe"
Listen: "Hollywood"

Twin Shadow - Eclipse

Artists can often be their own worst critics. Despite exceptionally well-received debut and sophomore albums, George Lewis felt his work was too elitist and wanted to make something more accessible. The result is an album void of much of the synthesizers and drum machines he has become known for. The album is also a departure for Lewis from playing the guitar.

Watch: "Turn Me Up"
Watch: "I’m Ready"

WAND - Golem

Cory Thomas Hanson is a prolific musician who has performed with Meatbodies, together PANGEA, and as a part of Mikal Cronin's backing band. This is the second album from his band WAND, which was recorded with Chris Woodhouse in his Sacramento studio.

Watch: "Flying Golem"
Listen: "Reaper Invert"

Other New Releases

Bryan Ferry - "Driving Me Wild"

Former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry released his 14th studio album, Avonmore, in November of last year. "Driving Me Wild" is the fifth track on the album and the third to be released as a single, following "Johnny and Mary" and Loop De Li."

Listen: "Driving Me Wild"

Catch the Throne Vol. 2

The fifth season of HBO's Game of Thrones just started and the network is releasing its second mixtape of songs written with the series as inspiration. As with the first mixtape, a wide variety of musicians are included. MNDR, Method Man, Talib Kweli, and Mastodon all contribute songs on this go-around.

Listen: Mastodon - "White Walker"
Listen: Talib Kweli - "Lord of the Light"

Furious 7: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The seventh movie in the long-running Fast & Furious series didn't seem like it was going to have much to make it stand out within the franchise. Unfortunately, after the accidental death of star Paul Walker, it became notable for exactly that reason, being his final film. Some of hip hop's best (and Iggy Azalea) have come together for the film's soundtrack.

Watch: Kid Ink, Tyga, Wale, YG & Rich Homie - "Ride Out"
Listen: Wiz Khalifa & Iggy Azalea - "Go Hard or Go Home"

Glen Hansard - It Was Triumph We Once Proposed…Songs of Jason Molina

As a folk musician out of Ireland, I never would have expected for Glen Hansard to have been influenced by Jason Molina, an alternative musician from Ohio. The two had been good friends and frequent tour-mates while Jason was still living. To honor the memory of his friend, Hansard is releasing this collection of covers both of songs Molina performed solo and with his band, Songs: Ohia.

Watch: "Hold on Magnolia" (Live)
Listen: "Being in Love"

Gorillaz - Gorillaz Reissue

Damon Albarn kicked off his second influential band in 2001 with the release of this self-titled debut. There isn't anything new with the reissue of the record, but it does come in advance of an assumed new record from the project some time later this year (Albarn is already set to release a new album with Blur later this month).

Watch: "Clint Eastwood"
Watch: "Rock the House"

Insurgent: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Movies based on young adult, dystopian novels seem to be all the rage these day. While The Hunger Games is the only that I have a really great interest in, I will concede that all have had impressive soundtracks associated with them. Insurgent, the sequel to last year's Divergent, is no exception. The soundtrack features new tracks from personal favorites like M83 and Lykke Li.

Listen: Woodkid - "Never Let You Down" (featuring Lykke Li)
Listen: M83 - "Holes in the Sky" (featuring HAIM)

Peter Doherty - "Flags of the Old Regime"

Peter Doherty had been good friends with Amy Winehouse before her untimely death in 2011. Although he's known primarily for his work in the bands The Libertines and Babyshambles, he also has an active solo career. His latest release as a solo artist is a tribute to his old friend.

Watch: "Flags of the Old Regime"

Roísín Murphy - "Jealousy"

Roísín Murphy is getting ready to release her third album (and first in eight years) in May of this year. First, we're getting a quick single from her, two takes on the song "Jealousy," recorded especially for Crosstown Rebel Records.

Listen: "Jealousy" (Disco Mix)
Listen: "Jealousy" (House Mix)

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith

Another tribute to a musician who passed too soon. Folk singers Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield didn't connect much when they first met, but gradually bonded over a mutual love for the music of Elliott Smith. Together, they recorded a full album of Smith covers.

Listen: "Somebody That I Used to Know"
Listen: "Between the Bars"

Tinashe - Amethyst Mixtape

Tinashe released her debut album, Aquarius, back in October. Like many grown adults living away from home, she returned over Christmas vacation. Unlike many other adults, she made it a productive break. The follow-up to her album was recorded in her childhood bedroom over the holiday.

Listen: "Dreams Are Real"
Listen: "Worth It" (featuring Iamsu!)

Tom Scharpling & Jon Wurster - Scharpling & Wurster: The Best of The Best Show

Jon Wurster is primarily known as drummer for Superchuck and The Mountain Goats, but he has also worked with radio host Tom Scharpling on the program, The Best Show. The show has been running for 15 years and, now, some of their best moments have been collected.

Watch: The Best of The Best Show