Saturday, October 31, 2015

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending October 31)

Happy Halloween everyone! Be sure to haunt my Upcoming Releases page to see a list of albums, singles, soundtracks and more that I will be looking forward to over the coming months.

Before we get into this week's highlighted announcement, I would like to take a minute to talk to you about the upcoming Black Friday Record Store Day (RSD). In a move to subvert the mass commercialization that usually comes the day after (and sometimes the day of) Thanksgiving, the RSD organizers put together a second date each year to help promote small and independent record stores. Much like the RSD held every April, it features a number of limited edition and special pressing releases. The official list of releases was posted this week and features releases from Afghan Whigs, Johnny Cash, MGMT, Spoon, and many others. See the list here.

Now on to this week's release. It comes from a long-established musician who is often considered to have released his best material throughout the seventies. After a more than decade-long musical hiatus, he released a new album two years ago that recaptured much of the praise of his previous material. I am talking of David Bowie, who released The Next Day in 2013 and just this week announced his follow-up, Blackstar.

Not much, besides a release date and a song snippet, have been released about the album yet. There were rumors of it being influenced by the sounds of Kraftwerk with long jams, but those were dismissed on his website as "inaccurate." The lead single from the album will be out on November 20, but you can hear a snippet below. The album itself is set for release January 8.

Also announced this week:

Bianca Casady  & The C.i.A. - Oscar Hocks (early next year)
Eleanor Friedberger - New View (January 22)
Fleetwood Mac - Tusk reissue (December 4)
Freddie Gibbs - Shadow of a Doubt (November 20)
GUM - Glamorous Damage (November 13)
La Sera - Music for Listening to Music To (March)
School of Seven Bells - SVIIB (February)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

New Music Friday - September 11, 2015

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Beirut - No No No

Though he became known for a sound heavily influenced by Balkan folk, Zach Condon sought to distance from that style for Beirut's latest album. Following an artistic lull, he wanted to bring in other styles that he had been influenced by, as well as allow other members of his band so to have input on the writing. While that may risk sacrificing some of the band's unique charms, the result is a lighter and more accessible album.

Watch: "Gibraltar"
Watch: "No No No"

The Libertines - Anthems for Doomed Youth

Pete Doherty seems to be in a reuniting mood lately. After six years essentially as a solo musician (with one album, Grace/Wastelands and a handful of singles bearing his name), he got back together with one band, Babyshambles, for 2013's Sequel to the Prequel. Now, he's reunited his other popular band, The Libertines. Their first album album in more than a decade follows more a year of the band performing together again.

Watch: "Gunga Din"
Watch: "Heart of the Matter"

Low - Ones & Sixes

Husband and wife team Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker have been performing together as Low (along with Steve Garrington) for more than two decades. They have perfected a sparse, harmony-focused, slow-moving sound over those years. On their 11th studio album, they get some additional help from Wilco's Glenn Kotche.

Watch: "No Comprende"
Watch: "Lies"

Other Full-Length Releases

Ben Folds & yMusic - So There

Listen: "Phone in the Pool"
Listen: "So There"

Fresh Snow - Won

Watch: "Proper Burial"
Watch: "Don't Fuck a Gift Horse in the Mouth"

Petite Noir - La Vie Est Belle/Life Is Beautiful

Watch: "Down"
Watch: "La Vie Est Belle/Life Is Beautiful" (featuring Baloji)

Phil Cook - Southland Mission

Watch: "1922"
Listen: "Great Tide"

Prince - HITNRUN

Richard Hawley - Hollow Meadows

Watch: "Nothing Like a Friend"
Watch: "Heart of Oak"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Devinyl Splits No. 3

Listen: Tiger Jaw - "In Between Days"
Listen: Kevin Devine - "Lovesong"

The Fresh & Onlys - Early Years Anthology

The Fresh & Onlys - The Fresh & Onlys

Listen: "Feelings in My Heart"
Listen: "Fog Machine"

Jim Adkins - Singles Series

Listen: "Hell"
Listen: "Love Don’t Wait"

Check Out: PINS

Starting in the late 1970s, the city of Manchester, England became a hotbed for indie music. Bands like The Smiths, Joy Division (and then New Order), and Oasis all got their start in the city. Halfway through the second decade of the new century, that traditional is still going strong, but now with some strong female voices.

PINS got started in 2011 when photographer Faith Holgate was putting together a band and wanted an all-female ensemble. She found Lois McDonald (guitarist), Anna Donigan (bassist), and Sophie Galpin (drummer), and together, they released Girls Like Us in 2013 and followed that up with the spectacular Wild Nights in June of this year.

Holgate names other female-led bands like Hole and My Bloody Valentine as inspirations, but I am most drawn to a similarity between Holgate and the lead vocalist of another British band, Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit. Neither have particularly deep voices, but share a lilting huskiness to their singing. PINS certainly carries on the strong indie "Madchester" tradition of their home, while making 2015 a very strong year for female performers and all-girl bands!

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending October 24)

Always and forever (or at least until I am no longer able to keep up with blogging), you can see a subset of new albums, EPs and more set to come out at my Upcoming Releases page!

Since I started writing this feature, I've come across many albums that have been announced, but not really announced. The artist has stated that an album will be coming out next month, in two months, next year; but they provide no absolute date or name; but they do share a snippet of new music, new artwork, maybe even song names. I wondered to myself, "What if I write about one of these records, then it gets a more official announcement later down the road?" Well, I just got my first opportunity to answer that question, and my response is, "Write about it again!". So, here I go.

Almost exactly two months ago, Savages announced that they would be releasing an album early next year. They provided no album artwork, tracklisting, or official song clips. What they did provide was a pretty cool video of Henry Rollins honoring them with a classic poem. This week, we got a lot more information about the record; the name, artwork, a tracklisting, and the release date. They even released a music video for the album's first single, "The Answer."

Savages sophomore album, Adore Life, will be released on January 22.

Also announced this week:

Adele - 25 (November 20)
Junior Boys - Big Black Coat (February 5)
Merchandise - “Red Sun”/“Echo” (November 27)
Natalie Prass - Side By Side (November 20)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Hell EP (November 13)
Shearwater - Jet Plane and Oxbow (January 22)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New Music Friday - September 4, 2015

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

The Arcs - Yours, Dreamily

Black Keys vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach has stepped away from his bandmate Pat Carney once before, for his 2009 solo debut Keep It Hid. For his second side outing, he put together a new band, consisting of members of The Shins and the Menahan Street Band. Inspired partly by the sport of boxing, the band released their first single just in time for the infamous Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. This is the first full-length album from the new band.

Watch: "Put a Flower in Your Pocket"
Watch: "Outta My Mind"

Diane Coffee - Everybody’s a Good Dog

Though he had little experience playing the instrument, Shaun Fleming unwittingly became the drummer for Foxygen after their debut album. During the break between the band's second and third albums, he took some time to write and record his own material, releasing his solo debut, My Friend Fish, in 2013. The album was primarily recorded at home, but he was able to upgrade to studio time for his follow-up.

Watch: "Everyday"
Watch: "Mayflower"


On their 2013 self-titled debut album, punk rock band put forward a crazy, chaotic face which seemed to be a reflection of the band's real life. Frontman Zac Carper was dealing with real-life drug issues. He spent the past couple of years getting himself clean and used writing as his outlet. He promises that this sophomore album is no less crazy than the debut!

Watch: "40oz on Repeat"
Watch: "Drone"

Lou Barlow - Brace the Wave

Lou Barlow is a rock legend who has been a member of Deep Wound, The Folk Implosion, Sebadoh, and Dinosaur Jr. during his 33 year career. He has also had an active solo career since the release of his early 90s debut, Weed Forestin'. On his third proper solo record, he returns to his earlier styles of writing and recording; all songs feature Barlow playing the ukulele.

Watch: "Repeat"
Listen: "Moving"

Other Full-Length Releases

Helen - The Original Faces

Watch: "Covered in Shade"
Listen: "Motorcycle"

Jerusalem in My Heart - If He Dies, If If If If If If

Listen: "Qala Li Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa" 
Listen: "2asmar Sa7ar"

k-os - Can’t Fly without Gravity

Watch: "WiLD4TheNight (EgoLand)"
Watch: "Turn Me Loose"

Public Image Ltd. - What the World Needs Now…

Listen: "Shoom"
Listen: "I’m Not Satisfied"

Rick Ross - Black Dollar

Watch: "Money Dance" (featuring The-Dream)

Listen: "Foreclosures"

Scarface - Deeply Rooted

Watch: "Steer" (featuring Rush Davis)
Listen: "Fuck You Too" (featuring Nas, Rick Ross, & Z-Ro)

Thunderbitch - Thunderbitch

Listen: "Leather Jacket"
Listen: "I Just Wanna Rock n Roll"

Travis Scott - Rodeo

Listen: "Oh My Dis Side"
Listen: "On My Vibe"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Animal Collective - Live at 9:30

Listen: "Honeycomb"
Listen: "New Town Burnout"

Kevin Morby - "Moonshiner"/"Bridge to Gaia"

Listen: "Moonshiner"
Listen: "Bridge to Gaia"

Machel Montano & Sean Paul - "One Wine"

Listen: "One Wine" (featuring Major Lazer)

Trouble Knows Me - Trouble Knows Me 12”

Listen: "Trouble"

Wiz Khalifa - "Burn Slow"

Listen: "Burn Slow" (featuring Rae Sremmurd)

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending October 17)

Keeping up with the stream of album announcements can be an overwhelming task. Thankfully, I've done some of the hard work for you! Check out my Upcoming Releases page for a rundown.

A few weeks ago, I was starting to think that album announcements were going to slow down as we were moving closer to the end of year pageantry of best-of-the-year lists and music award nominations. I was wrong, and this week brought about some exciting announcements. One comes from a band back from a second hiatus (that word may be thrown around too much in music), Bloc Party.

Bloc Party started off strong with a one-two punch of excellent debut and sophomore albums, 2005's Silent Alarm and 2007's A Weekend in the City. Their third, Intimacy, wasn't too shabby either. Shortly after that album, the band went on their first hiatus, which would only last two years. In 2011, they released their fourth album, creatively titled Four. It was...well...a bit of a disappointment. It wasn't too long before they lost a couple of members and embarked on their second hiatus.

Now, they're back from that hiatus and have some new members, bassist Justin Harris of Menomena (!) and drummer Louise Hartle (heck yes, girl drummers!). Sure they've disappointed in the past, but I'm still beyond excited for new music from them. Hymns, their fifth album, is set to be released January 29.

Also announced this week:

Arca - Xen (November 20)
The Besnard Lakes - A Coliseum Complex Museum (January 22)
The Besnard Lakes - “Golden Lion” 12” (November 13)
BOSS - “I’m Down with That” (November 27)
Cass McCombs - A Folk Set Apart: Rarities, B-Sides & Space Junk, Etc. (December 11)
Chairlift - Moth (January)
Cool Uncle - Cool Uncle (November 13)
Jeezy - Politically Correct EP (out now)
JEFF The Brotherhood - Global Chakra Rhythms (November 13)
Liz - Big GRRRL Small World (December 11)
M83 - Digital Shades Reissue (November 20)
M83 - Saturdays=Youth Reissue (November 20)
M83 - Saturdays=Youth Remixes & B-Sides (out now)
METZ - “Eraser”/“Pure Auto” (January 22)
Swans - Love of Life & White Light from the Mouth of Infinity Reissues (December 4)
White Sea - “Never a Woman” (out now)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

R.I.P. Carey Lander

On Sunday, the world lost one of the great Scottish indie pop performers when Carey Lander, keyboardist for Camera Obscura, passed away.

Carey had been diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare bone disease, in 2011, but continued performing and recording with the band up until this past August, when the band canceled shows to accommodate her treatment.

Before she passed, Lander set up a Just-Giving page to help raise awareness and funds for research into the disease. Its rarity means that funding and attention tend to be scarce. The page has exceeded its goal, but is still active if you wish to make a donation.

Songs to remember her by:

"The Sun on His Back"
"My Maudlin Career"
"Desire Lines"

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Martian

Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Andy Weir, Drew Goddard
Stars: Matt Damon (Mark Watney), Jessica Chastain (Melissa Lewis), Kristen Wiig (Annie Montrose), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Vincent Kapoor)

We seem to be in a golden age of space films, with a new set of, mostly excellent, films coming every year. The latest comes from a genre veteran, Ridley Scott.

The Martian tells the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut on a manned mission to Mars who is presumed dead and left by his fellow astronauts following a freak storm on the planet. Turns out, he survives and spends the following months trying to grow his own food to supplement his rations, reestablishing communications with NASA, and generally avoiding dying. Back on Earth, NASA officials try to determine the best way to either keep him alive until the next mission or mount a rescue mission to bring him back.

Mini soundtrack:

Donna Summer - "Hot Stuff"
David Bowie - "Starman"
Gloria Gaynor - "I Will Survive"

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New Music Friday - August 28, 2015

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Beach House - Depression Cherry

Beach House's previous two records, Teen Dream and Bloom, brought the band to new levels of commercial acclaim and popularity. Despite this, they sought to return to the simpler sound employed on their first two albums. The effort came in part from frustration in trying to recreate live what had been accomplished on those records. The frustration led to creative stagnation for the duo, but they were able to build on past ideas to create another fantastic record.

Listen: "Sparks"
Listen: "PPP"

Destroyer - Poison Season

Even if it weren't for the amazing-ness that is the New Pornographers, many of its members would still be among the most highly-celebrated modern musicians. Destroyer's Dan Bejar is one of those musicians. He started Destroyer three years before his more ubiquitous band formed, and has pushed the envelope ever since. On his latest, he adds lush string arrangements to his already unique brand of baroque-inspired pop.

Watch: "Times Square"
Watch: "Girl in a Sling"

Foals - What Went Down

Up until their last album, 2013's Holy Fire, Foals had felt a bit like a Bloc Party clone. Now, don't get me wrong; I did and still do really enjoy their debut album. Perhaps helped by the fact that Bloc Party had fallen off the radar a bit, Holy Fire was something very different, and even more amazing, from the band. What Went Down continues that progress and helps the band stand out even more in the crowded indie rock field.

Watch: "What Went Down"
Watch: "Mountain at My Gates"

Hamilton Leithauser & Paul Maroon - Dear God

My worry over The Walkmen's hiatus last year was extremely short-lived since three of the band's members quickly released incredible records to fill the void. Two of the members are back at it this year with a limited edition collaborative album; frontman Hamilton Leithauser and guitarist Paul Maroon. The album is the second post-hiatus outing for Leithauser, and the first for Maroon, though he did help out on Black Hours.

Listen: "How & Why"

Yo La Tengo - Stuff Like That There

Throughout their career, Yo La Tengo has become known for their unique takes on others' music. In 1990, they released an album, Fakebook, almost completely made up of covers. They return to that format for their latest album, with their own interpretations of songs originally by Hank Williams, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Cure, and many more!

Watch: "Friday I’m in Love"
Watch: "Automatic Doom"

Other Full-Length Releases

All Dogs - Kicking Every Day

Listen: "Skin"
Listen: "How Long"

Frog Eyes - Pickpocket’s Locket

Watch: "Joe with the Jam"
Listen: "Two Girls (One for Heaven and the Other for Rome)"

Gin Wigmore - Blood to Bone

Watch: "New Rush"
Watch: "Written in the Water - Die Regardless"

Ruby Amanfu - Standing Still

Watch: "Shadow on the Wall"
Listen: "Streetlights"

Tamaryn - Cranekiss

Watch: "Cranekiss"
Watch: "Hands All Over Me"

The Weeknd - Beauty Before the Madness

Watch: "Tell Your Friends"
Watch: "I Can’t Feel My Face"

Willis Earl Beal - Noctunes

Listen: "Flying So Low"
Listen: "Survive"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Cee-Lo Green - "Sign of the Times"

Watch: "Sign of the Times"

Jamie xx - "Loud Places" Remix 12”

Listen: "Loud Places" (John Talabot Loud Synths Reconstruction)
Listen: "Loud Places" (Barnt E-Mix)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Live at the Atlanta Pop Festival

Listen: "Purple Haze"
Listen: "Stone Free"

LAMC #16

Listen: La Luz - "Believe My Eyes"
Listen: Scully - "Don’t Want That"

Mark Lanegan - Houston: Publishing Demos 2002

Listen: "No Cross"
Listen: "I’ll Go Where You Send Me"

Mos Def & Ski Beatz - "Sensei on the Block"

Listen: "Sensei on the Block"

Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds - "Lock All the Doors"

Watch: "Lock All the Doors"

Toro Y Moi - Samantha

Watch: "Dada Art"
Listen: "Want" (featuring Washed Out)