After seven years without a CD release, Superchunk finally released “Leaves in the Gutter” a couple months ago. A 5 song EP release in the mold of their early 7-inches and between – album EP masterpieces. If you let this one slip past you, what better way to get over the hump than to check out all four new tracks plus last year’s vinyl-only hit single, “Misfits & Mistakes” all streaming for free HERE .
Wild Beasts: Two Dancers
Eric Copeland: Alien in a Garbage Dump
Arctic Monkeys: Humbug
Willie Nelson: American Classic
A Hawk and a Hacksaw: Delivrance
The Casualties: Stand Against Them All
Sonic Youth’s new video for “Sacred Trickster” off their 16th album The Eternal is more taste less filling. While its the briefest song on the album, its also one of the strongest and quickly becoming one of my favorites. “Sacred Trickster” is a good mix of art/noise rock feedback sputters with Kim singing salutes to French painter Yves Klein and Western Massachusetts noise artist Noise Nomads and they cram it all into 2:10. The video, directed by downtown fixture, Tom Surgal, follows three hipster femme fatales through a series of attitude laden New York shop adventures that leads them to a haughty rooftop party. But the most ingenious element of the video is the extremely clever product placement and punk-rock history nods. Keep on the look out for salutes to Magik Markers, Burning Star Core, the Blue Humans, Arthur Doyle, Patti Smith, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, and some others. Watch it a few times and see if you can spot them all.
Peep the new PB & J video for “It Don’t Move Me” off Living Thing, directed by Andreas and Filip Nilsson. In the same vain as the video for “Nothing to Worry About“, there is some awesomely enthusiastic leg droppin’ here. Keep watching…it just keeps getting better. The vid features a Napoleon Dynamite-esc Michael Jackson impersonator getting his Thriller moves on in random locales set to the Swedish indie trios uber catchy tune. Awesome dance move at 2:47.
A set of songs that sway, stretch, and scream while always reaching outward for personal connection. As ever, Andy Stack’s production layers his own multi-instrumental arrangements over Jenn Wasner’s woozy compositions, but musically, too, things sound more precise. There’s less squalling feedback than before, but lingering violin and pedal steel bring out the droning Americana that has always informed Wye Oak‘s sound.
Stream the full Wye Oak album “The Knot” for a limited time HERE.
This new video for “Dream about me” comes from Brooklyn-based band The Depreciation Guild. This is total 80’s revival. A Synth pop love child of guitar-led Shoegaze and Nintendo. Band member Kurt Feldman,drummer from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart along with brothers Christoph and Anton Hochheim mix a highly nostalgic blend of melody driven spacey pop with a bass, percussion, and synth sound derived entirely from a Nintendo Famicon sound chip that gives their songs a very simplistic, MIDI like Super Nintendo feel. Added to this textured mix are Feldmans soaring vocals which remind me a little of My Bloody Valentine. You can download their debut album, In Her Gentle Jaws for free by clicking on the yellow strip on their web site.
Patrick Wolf : The Bachelor
Label: 101 Distribution
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Returning with his 4th studio album Patrick Wolf presents his two-part record The Bachelor (Battle One)’. It is the first of its kind to be publicly funded after a previous record deal fell through. His fans were asked to come to the rescue and buy stocks in the artist, which then in time be repaid depending on album sales. Risky business, but an interesting concept which gives incentive for the album to mean so much more to the people who contributed to it as well as the artist owing it to the fans.
‘The Bachelor’ is somewhat of an accomplishment on certain fronts; it brings a hint of the new but also a somewhat mature sound. It culminates every past record that Wolf has made and produces an almost greatest hits album that no one has ever heard before. Featuring collaborations from the ‘The Voice of Hope’ otherwise known as actress Tilda Swinton and folk musician Eliza Carthy, who duets with Wolf on the title track, plus others. There is no shortage of helpful musical heads here to lend a hand and this could serve to explain that why after several listens its still hard to identify what the album is really trying to tell you. The track listing is a somewhat confusing assortment of fast paced electronic folk mixed songs like ‘Hard Times’ which is a great single but then as you move through the list more meaningful love songs if you like come in to play such as ‘Damaris’ which slows the pace right back down, ‘Blackdown’ is another good example of a song that is clearly about family and coming of age on this roller coaster album of up’s and downs. However all good songs I just feel that timing and track placement is all wrong.
Don’t get me wrong the album will lead the true die hard fans into another folk fairy tale that only Patrick Wolf is capable of doing. Certain tracks like the beautiful ‘Thickets’, ‘Who Will’ and ‘Hard Times’ are defiantly the three stand out tracks and can’t be denied their limelight. However listeners of the ‘Lycanthropy – Wind in The Wires’ era will be left slightly confused and newer members to the fan club that have only ‘The Magic Position’ as their reference will be even more disappointed. This album leaves no room for pop, it’s heavy in deep over cluttered messages perhaps messages that need re-organizing, maybe that’s just me and my over structural ways. Wolf’s voice seems to have lost its charm in most of the songs and the faux-gospel choir’s sound just as silly as Tilda Swinton’s ridiculous ‘The Voice of Hope’ which I feel is unnecessary whenever used.
I want to like, even love this album but I fear that the few songs I do admire are eclipsed by the confusing track listing and structure, poor lyrics and mixed messages that the album sends out. It’s hard to see this album ever being remembered as anything more than just Patrick Wolf’s 4th album. No new ground has majorly been covered here, he did that with the ‘Magic Position’ and ok yes it was very pop and happy-happy but it worked and is probably his most commercially successful album to date. Being alternative is cool I get it and like it but I just don’t think this album can be identified as that. The formula is just too mixed in this album and for that reason it fails in what all of his past 3 albums succeeded in doing.
Coldplay: Viva La Vida
Release Date: June 17, 2008
VIVA LA VIDA OR DEATH AND ALL HIS FRIENDS:
OK let me start by saying I have always been a huge fan of Coldplay. It might not be the most popular thing to say; but it’s true. The first time I heard the new single “Violet Hill” I was driving up the PCH in Santa Monica towards Malibu and I absolutely loved it. It is in keeping with their style but a genuine evolution of their sound at the same time. From the very beginning this album takes a different direction from the band’s previous works. The track “Lost” offers up an almost programmed drum section while a lush Hammond b-3 organ matched with wide open U2 esque guitar playing sends the band in to a more rock / arena rock landscape. While tracks like “42” offer up an interpretation of the band that is far more in the experimental Radiohead esque direction. Songs like “Yes” find the band going in a familiar direction but again incorporating a variety of instruments and sounds not typically associated with Coldplay even going in to middle eastern type strings; which I must say feel really out of place and forced. “Viva La Vida” has the same issue to me. Yes it’s an itunes commercial; but the lyrics and the strings really just feel forced and unnecessarily over the top. As a Coldplay fan from many albums ago; one of the things I have always appreciated about the band was the simplicity of the songs. That concept seems to have been lost throughout the majority of this album in favor of trying to push boundaries and be something different from what they are. It’s great to experiment; but a great band knows what they are good at and that’s what makes a career. Being able to accept your limitations, perfect what you were already great at and expand to reachable goals that keep fans coming back for more. Overall that last sentence surmises my issues with this album. It is absolutely top heavy and has moments of the Coldplay brilliance that true fans have come to love; but over all this feels like a forced reach by the band to challenge listeners to see that they are capable of more than what we have come to expect. Unfortunately they are not. The album in many places is just as pretentious as the title. But if you can forgo the skipable tracks; there are some good keeps here. I struggle to determine what the next single will be; probably the title track “Viva La Vida” which is too bad; because it annoys me.
Anderson van Luftsworth
As if the weather wasnt anti-summer enough this week, Animal Collective‘s new video for “Summertime Clothes” is following suit. This video wont do anything to coax the sun out of hibernation but might put you in the mood for Halloween or returning to a psychedelic womb. The video, directed by longtime Animal Collective collaborator, Danny Perez, features a dark studio with strobe lights, fire and ice and lots of visual tricks and treats that will make you wish your freshman dorm blacklight poster had been this entertaining.
We Were Promised Jet Packs are in good company with fellow Scotsman band Frightened Rabbit. Formed in Edinburgh in 2003, these highlanders bring emotional intensity to the forefront in their immensely appealing guitar-pop anthems. Adding driving rhythms and dense atmospheric sheen, they unfold their songs into effortless-seeming choruses imbued with romanticism and pop sensibility of more mature bands like Sigur Ros and the Futureheads. The video for ” Roll Up Your Sleeves”, directed by Blair Young, is the second single off their new album “These Four Walls”. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Like required summer reading, David Pajo’s new album “Scream With Me” is required summer listening. Released only on vinyl, “Scream With Me” is an experimental cover album. A collection of songs from kings of the underworld, The Misfits which for most bands would spell disaster. Surprisingly, Pajo’s lo-fi accoustic interpretation is actually really effective and the perfect album to kick back a coldie on a laid back summer night. David Pajo is currently working on a new record titled “Evila” and has recently joined the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs on tour. You can purchase “Scream With Me” exclusively from the friendly ghouls over at Black Tent Press.
Sonic Youth’s 16th album “The Eternal” is out this week, along with music videos for tracks “Antenna” and “Sacred Trickster”. “Antenna” features an ageless Thurston Moore on vocals and guitar with a halo of haze churned up in the same vein as “Sunday” or “The Empty Page”. Its vintage Sonic Youth and slips on comfortably.The rest of the album certainly sounds like a Sonic Youth record but is also a homage to artists they admire. The band is doing a lo-fi video series all week on pitchfork.tv, so check it out here.
Artist: The Dead Weather
Label: Warner Bros
Release Date: July 2009
French Illustrator/Musician McBess, a Discosalt favorite, brings his own unique vision to this music video for his band, The Dead Pirates. “Wood” is highly stylish black and white 1940’s cartoon meets Gorillaz Feel Good Inc, done in McBess’s signature style, full of some really crazy intricate detail and lots of tatoos. McBess has a pretty gnarly website with some great 2D art for sale and a shirt from the video featuring The Dead Pirate’s logo on Threadless. You can find that here.
What is this? It’s Mika Miko, an underground youth punk/noise band from LA that have been turning out no-wave pony funk for the LA rave-up Smell Scene, since 2003. 4 chicks, 1 guy, 4 of whom claim to still live with their folks, who are notorious for playing rowdy free shows at random kids birthday parties in the valley. Classic post punk mixed with a little art punk, some B52’s base lines, 1970s fractured dance beats, jagged guitars, raunchy jokes and songs about late night snacks. The new album “We Be Xuxa” which is out May 5 via Post Present Medium, features not one, but two songs about wanting a turkey sandwich. Sold! “I Got A Lot( New New New)” is the first single and the band will be on tour on the east coast beginning in June. Buy the album, play it loud and annoy your neighbors.
Son Volt: American Central Dust
The Rural Alberta Advantage- Hometowns
Mellowdrone- Angry Bear
Portugal, The Man- The Satanic Satanist
Fiery Furnaces-I’m Going Away
Memphis May Fire- Sleepwalking
Ian Hunter- Man Overboard
Howling Bells- Radio Wars
Spiritualized: Songs in A and E
Label: Fontana Universal
Release Date: May 26, 2008
In “Death Take Your Fiddle,” the 3rd song on Songs In A & E, Jason Pierce buries his take on Townes Van Zandt-ian tragicountry under the syncopated push and pull of an artificial breathing machine. While this device may seem heavy handed, it helps score what the listener has previously heard and will hear on Spiritualized’s latest. This set of songs may amount to the best Spiritualized album so far, and it’s in no part due to the willingness to use unconventional techniques, and in the case of Jason Pierce, that technique is consistently stepping up to the microphone.
With 18 songs and clocking in at nearly 1 hour, Songs in A & E tries extremely hard to maintain it’s tone and direction, and for the most part, it succeeds. At times, it seems like Pierce effortlessly trying to show the kids how it’s done, be it the classic 60’s riffing on “I Gotta Fire,” the Velvets-esque “Yeah Yeah” or the better than Oasis at being Oasis “Sweet Talk.” Even when trodding ground firmly lain by Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized, that ground being the beauty in the drone, Pierce shows an unbeforeseen Ace in the hole with the 2 chords and layer upon exquisite layer built upon “Baby I’m Just a Fool.”
The most unique moments, however, come when the instrumentation is sparse and the melody is carried by the vocals. Most powerfully carried out in “Don’t Hold Me Close,” a simple country song with a pretty melody and an even prettier sentiment, this willingness to not have layers of guitars be the basis of a song but letting the melody do that work, Songs in A & E lives up to it’s both modest & grandiose album title. Maybe a nod to the uber-classic Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, or maybe just a simple declaration of the musical timbre of the songs on the album, but definitely reaching for classic album status. While not fully realizing this goal, this shortfall is simply based on the inclusion of maybe 1 or 2 too many songs, not on the lack of strength of the ones that manage to build what is surely the most interesting and diverse set of songs ever to make it onto a Spiritualized LP, regardless of the key
Did anyone see the Phoenix Blimp flying around New York City this week? Yeah, we missed it too. Seems a little out of air but the band is certainly not. Phoenix is a slighty pompous French (freedom) power pop band whose music could sit comfortably on The Breakfast Club soundtrack. Their new album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,”released this month is getting great reviews even withstanding a seven and a half minute suite “Love Like a Sunset” that desperately wants to build like a hidden track from David Bowie’s Low and an over indulgent soft rock ballad, “Fences”, that might make Darryl Hall weep. Its still French and seems fresh in the US amidst a haze of power pop bands now that are dominating the music landscape. And the band has cred. They have been around for a while, originally backing the French power pop band Air, then moving on to release 4 albums perfecting the electro synth-pop arrangement. The band will be on tour in June, September and December.