Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chilly Primates

In an interview recently with Alex Turner (main songwriter and frontman) and Matt Helders (drummer) of the band Arctic Monkeys, they mentioned that they are not big fans of the popular folksy sound of Mumford & Sons. "Too many banjos", I think, the exact quote. It struck me as important, since Mumford have really polarized people. People are very passionate about the love or disdain for Mumford & Sons, never simply offering a "They are OK" comment. I've often felt that those who HATE Mumford, do so because of the constant rotation they seem to have on just about every radio station format here in the States. I wonder what people would think of Arctic Monkeys if they were always on the radio. Would the Arctic Monkeys even get light rotation on American radio? Sadly, I think the answer is no.

Post/Psychedelic Rock doesn't get many rotations on terrestrial radio. I, for one, wish it would. Radio isn't made for the likes of me. That's fine though, as the main reason I started this blog was to reach others like me. Maybe to at least convert as many people as possible, to bands NOT on the radio, is a more specific goal.

The latest Arctic Monkeys album was released on June 6th, but the band streamed the entire album from their website before the official release to allow fans to decide wether they wanted to buy it or not. The album title, Suck It And See, is not a fuck you to anyone in particular. I had thought it might be a message to the record label perhaps. The band has stated in interview that it is simply an offer, a suggestion of sorts. Try it, and you might like it.

If a band like Queens of the Stone Age is something you dig, you may find Suck It And See a nice companion album. Josh Homme is someone these chilly monkeys have worked with before. There are two main elements that stand out on Suck It And See: the guitar textures and the rich visual imagery of the lyrical content. On every one of the 12 tracks, these two aspects will leave you pretty satisfied. My favorite track, and the track the band is most excited to play while on tour, is "Brick By Brick".

Click link to play Arctic Monkeys - Brick By Brick

If you are already a fan of the Arctic Monkeys, you will notice the continued departure from the sound that shot them to stardom. I think the change makes sense. It's a sound that's more accessible and sustainable. The album, overall, is well-rounded and consistent, and sure to please any rock music aficionado. It's more tortoise than hare, to make an analogy. The band has a hard enough time even remembering the words to their old material while on tour, so continuing to evolve their craft makes the most sense!

The band will be in Vegas this year (9/24/2011), that's not a show I will be missing. Check this link to see if they might be somewhere you are.

Check out the video below for some insights on the new album. Don't worry, they are not stoned or drunk, that's just how the sound in every interview I've ever seen. (I suppose they could ALWAYS be high...)


Sunday, June 26, 2011

something old, something new

The Old

Ok, so I'm not really starting with something that old, but I didn't get a chance to write this one up when it was released in March:

If you remember 90s hip-hop band Tony! Toni! Tone! you might recognize their frontman, Raphael Saadiq. That group has been disbanded for some time now but Saadiq has been releasing solo albums (and quietly collecting Grammy awards) since. I hadn't been paying him much attention until 2008, when he released the incredible album The Way I See It. From the opening note I was lost in a re-creation of Smokey Robinson's Motown. The songwriting and production were a spot-on homage to the sounds of yesteryear. Here's a track from that album in case you didn't catch it.

Click to play Raphael Saadiq - 100 Yard Dash

I can't say enough about that record. Seriously, go buy a copy if you don't own it. Other than the song with Jay-Z (let's pretend that one never made the album) I think it's pure gold.

2011 brought the follow-up album Stone Rollin'. I was very excited to see where Mr. Saadiq went next. Would it be more Motown-styled tunes? Would he go another direction completely? It turns out to be a little of both, or maybe a logical progression in a sense. The album starts out with a song that could easily have been on The Way I See It, but departs a bit from there. It's a little more playful than its predecessor, yet still delves deeper into soul and R&B. My favorite moments are tunes that call Stevie Wonder to mind, which Saadiq does very well. Here's one that reminds me of earlier Stevie:

Click to play Raphael Saadiq - Go To Hell

And here's one that hints more at the later, Innervisions-era feel:

Click to play Raphael Saadiq - The Answer

Overall it's a very good album. Maybe not as cohesive as the release before it, but a little more daring in some respects. Again, the production is the true star. Pay close attention to the guitar sounds, the washed out drums, the vocals. It's just great.

The New

I'll admit I'm not much for more current R&B. I just don't pay it much attention. But when the new Beyonce album, 4, came my way I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it a shot.

I've enjoyed some of Beyonce's work in the past, and though I never listened to a full album before I went in knowing the girl is very talented. From that aspect, I was not disappointed in the least. The vocals are fantastic through the record. I could just listen to her sing and be happy. The music, on the other hand, didn't always strike a chord (ha ha, I'm so punny) with me. I do like the opening track, "1 + 1." Here it is for you.

Click to play Beyonce - 1 + 1

I can easily hear Aretha singing a song like that. I mean the style, not the vocals. Those are just fine as they are.

The other track that stands out to me is "Run The World (Girls)." Beyonce has a knack for writing female-empowering anthems (?) that make you want to shake your ass. If I know my history, I believe "Independent Woman" and "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" nearly lead to feminist riots that would have destroyed most of western civilization. I may be wrong, though. Anyway, this song falls right in with those:

Click to play Beyonce - Run The World (Girls)

So I can't say I love the album, but it isn't bad for someone who doesn't really listen to the genre. If it's more up your alley be sure to pick up a copy when it drops this week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Insert witty title here. [3fer Edition]

Wild Sweet Orange

Again I come across a band and album that I love only to discover that they have broken up already. Wild Sweet Orange, from Alabama, released We Have Cause To Be Uneasy in 2008. They announced their breakup September 2010. when did I discover them? March 30th, 2001. It's a bummer, but that should stop you from becoming a fan. Uneasy is such a great album, that it's worth the disappointment of knowing that there will be no other albums from this band. Who knows, the purchasing power of the fans of this bloog could resurrect the band with a reuinion tour and a new album. Stranger things have happened.

"House Of Regret" is a beautifully crafted rock song. The song starts off slow, sad and reflective. You can feel the remorse bubble over into anger through the course of the song. I play it at loud volumes, I suggest you do the same.

Click to play Wild Sweet Orange - House Of Regret

Kanye West

"I ain't going to bed no time soon / And when I do, I'm sleeping in my mama's room!"

This is supposedly a bogus version of Kanye West's much speculated-about song Mama's Boyfriend. We had heard a capella versions of it when Kanye was doing rhymes at facebook and twitter headquarters. It was supposed to be on the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Dark Fantasy, or as a Bonus Track. It was not released as either. Word was that the song meant so much to him that he wanted it to be perfect before it was released. Having it released the way it has was really fired Kanye up. Here is the note from the label about it:

The version of the Kanye West recording “Mama’s Boy” that arrived on blog sites earlier this week is entirely bogus and unsanctioned, and violates the artist’s creative intentions. As is often the unfortunate case, an unknown party or parties got a hold of Kanye West’s vocal track and added their own soundbed to it, effectively and falsely releasing it as a Kanye West track from the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sessions. The result in no way resembles the final song Kanye West intended his fans to hear, and he is deeply disappointed that one of the most personal, meaningful and special songs he has ever written would reach people in this way. Needless to say, measures are being taken to identify and prosecute the persons responsible for leaking this material.

I'm too afraid to put it on my servers. Here is the link to download it from Mediafire. Hurry! won't be there long!

Glass Candy

Italo Disco is something I haven't listened to for a long time. I used to throw some in my sets from time to time, back when I used to DJ regularly. Songs like this always remind me of my old buddy CB4.

Click to play Glass Candy - Feeling Without Touching

Glass Candy is from Portland, Oregon. That voice you hear is vocalist Ida No and the music is produced by Johnny Jewel. The song comes off the EP "Feeling Without Touching."

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Element of Chaos

Sometimes you can't help but just go with the band's own description...and/or the wiki description... when you want to share some tunes you just discovered. The Go! Team is described as combining "indie rock and garage rock with a mixture of blaxploitation and Bollywood soundtracks, double dutch chants, Charlie Brown piano, car chase horns, old school hip hop and distorted guitars..." Seriously! They don't even know how to describe their own music to their mums. My iTunes describes them as Electronic, and even though a lot of my favorite bands are also described as Electronic, normally it won't be the genre I will be clicking first when it hits my library.

But this is the shit. The album Rolling Blackouts starts off sounding like a group of serious-ass female Beastie Boys, moves into that double-dutch sound I mentioned earlier, then morphs into some "Jackie Brown" or "Shaft" -esque movie soundtrack serious hardassedness.

Track 5, "Bust-Out Brigade", combines all of this plus makes me wish I was watching my alma mater march down main street for our 4th of July parade. I LOVE this!

Click to Enjoy The Go! Team - Bust-Out Brigade

There are a few instrumental-only tracks on this album and they are just as badass as the ones that include catchy or snotty lyrics.

There are six of them. They play instruments. They use samples. They throw sample buttons on their instruments. They just "keep the element of chaos."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I am defined by my failures.

I need you to remind me to relax. I'm a work-aholic by nature. That's not quite right. I'm super fucking lazy, but there is a guilt inside me that keeps me working. Working quiets the voices that tell me I am a failure, that I never reached my potential.

I need someone to tell me to take a vacation. That it's time to kick back. Otherwise, I burn my vacation days working from home, or perhaps staying home sick because I burned that candle too long at both ends.

I probably just gave you some anxiety. It's gonna be ok. I am going to give us a bit of aural vacationing in this post. Get your sunblock...

There are certain tracks that remind me of being poolside with my lady. Head full of alcohol and some great tunes isn't a vacation, but it can help you get some sanity back. I have an album to throw on your device of choice to provide a Gretzky to your pool day. Los Angeles band, Foster the People, has a new LP out out entitled Torches that is full of perfect summer tunes. It makes sense, where everyday is like a beach day in LA. You may have heard the song I'm sharing, it trended on radio quite a bit. I don't listen to much radio these days, so you tell me.

Click to play Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

All the above was written a week ago. I was so busy that I couldn't even finish my post. Here I am a week later trying to finish it. This last week has been especially tiring. Besides all my workouts and running around town to get things done, I've been using my brain way too much. When your body and mind are both completely spent at the end of the day, it's important to just take one day to recharge. I decided to come to my local coffee shop to finish the post. The coffee is excellent here, the staff friendly and competent, and the vibe is good. I'm sitting here, feeling the lift of my Nutty Cow Latte and listening to song playing over the speakers. I look it up with Shazaam and find that it's the song "Little Hell" by the band City and Colour. Loving the vibe of this song. It's putting my mind at ease. Which is good, because while I'm at the coffee shop I'm getting phone calls that almost allow the anxiety of all the things I should/need to do. Breathe. Listen.

Click to play City and Colour - Little Hell

City and Colour is the side project of Dallas Green (Get it?) who is the singer and guitarist for a post-hardcore band that I like, Alexisonfire.

Take it from the band The Young Veins, it's time to "Take A Vacation!" Until then, I'll still be here hustling...

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Head and the Heart

I have to say... my head and my heart have been at war before, but when it comes to the band “The Head and the Heart”, there’s no struggle between what’s going on in my noggin’ and what I feel in my chest. They are in agreeance on this one and I may be in love.

The Seattle-based band’s self-titled debut album is flooded with passion and vocal harmonics that make my heart go pitter patter along with poetic lyrics that make my head spin. Formed in 2009, the sextet took to the Seattle Public Library’s piano practice room before self releasing “The Head and the Heart”. In 2011 the album was remastered and re-released on Sub Pop Records. According to Sup Pop’s website, “the songs resulting from those first inspired months pick at the multicolored threads of leaving home, finding home, and through that process of deconstruction, finding yourself. These are songs about crossing rivers and roads to get to the one you love, about family far away, and the desire to chase technicolor dreams down foreign horizons.” Following a 2 year journey on the road and living out of a suitcase myself, like an old friend who has been down the same path, the music speaks deeply to me and comforts me with an understanding. Their latest single takes me to a place where I can just be and get “Lost in My Mind” (pun intended),

Click To Enjoy The Head and the Heart - Lost In My Mind

while “Rivers and Roads” creates that aching and longing in your soul for loved ones who are not near.

They do have a more upbeat sound as well, but I’ve chosen to share the ones that make me weepy. Cut me some slack and grab me a kleenex... my niece just graduated from high school today.

Click To Enjoy The Head and the Heart - Down In The Valley

Currently on tour with Iron and Wine, I’d say they’re in excellent company. Tour dates can be found at

So get out from behind your computer and take in a show!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

the sound of fighting

In 2007 Battles blew a lot of people away with the release of Mirrored. They had released a few EPs prior to that but Mirrored was a new introduction for most folks, and an amazing one at that.

I went in thinking, members of Helmet and Don Caballero working together? This should be interesting. I had no idea how groundbreaking it would actually be. It took one listen to the single "Atlas" to make me realize. Take a listen now if you haven't heard it. In fact, listen again if you have. I'm setting a mood here.

It's bizarre but completely hypnotic and unique. The instruments are all on synced looping pedals so the band can build theme upon theme. It's a simple idea but one that hadn't really been examined so in-depth before. It works and it's very compelling. The rest of the album has the same appeal. You put it on and you're virtually guaranteed to sink into the pattern-based brilliance for an hour.
So here we are four years later and the band has been pretty quiet for a while. Late last year vocalist/instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton announced he was leaving the group to focus on his solo career. That left a lot of us wondering what would happen with the rest of the band. It turns out they continued forward with a somewhat modified sound and are releasing their second full-length Gloss Drop this week. Here's the opening track, "Africastle."

Click to play Battles - Africastle

This album looks back to Battles' EP roots, with a mostly instrumental approach. There are a few songs with guest vocals but the focus here is on the music. That's not to say the vocals are incidental. For example, here's a track with Gary Numan (yes, THAT Gary Numan) covering those duties:

Click to play Battles - My Machines (Featuring Gary Numan)

It works. The rest of the album ventures into something I wouldn't expect: world music. There are hints of Caribbean beats all over the place and the heavier mood of previous works is less present. This isn't a bad thing, it's just an interesting change. Perhaps it's because of Braxton's departure, perhaps this is where the band's next evolution was headed anyway. Regardless, it makes for a good album in a completely different way from anything else in the band's catalog.

If you were a huge fan of Battles' previous work and don't cope well with change, I'd leave this one alone. If, however, you want to see how a band can develop and adapt to change over time, this is a great example. I'll leave you with one more track because, um, why not?

Click to play Battles - Inchworm

Friday, June 3, 2011

Too Pretty To Say Please

It's time again for summer memories.  The kind that forever take on a sepia hue in your mind.  Or on your iPhone, since it has that fancy tool.  Have any made it to your wall? (I mean your physical wall. Inside your home.)

I want some sepia-toned videos.  Can you make that happen?

Sorry.  It's this album.  It immediately conjures this kind of feeling, right from track one.  Like it's the soundtrack to your slightly clouded memories.  Or a fondly-remembered road trip.

You might have heard The Wooden Birds on NPR, since a song off their first album was featured as the song of the day...even if it was two years ago.  Maybe the memory of that takes on the same tinted hue for Andrew Kenny and crew.

Click to Enjoy The Wooden Birds - Folly Cub

Andrew Kenny was the main singer and songwriter from American Analog Set before helping to get Broken Social Scene going with a contribution to their album and tour. Then he settled back in his home state of Texas to start The Wooden Birds, a band which has had various members in its two year existence so far. Oh, and apparently he makes a lot of music writers swoon. Sometime last year, Buzzfeed called him one of the hottest guys of indie rock. As in, a hot guy, not as in, oh, watch these up-and-comers. As for Andrew himself, his age confounds me. Look how young he looks... Yet, as for his own original musical crushes, he can remember having a Linda Ronstadt poster so that would definitely take him out of the twentysomething generation.

But the songs are gorgeous and upbeat while staying folksy. And this album, Two Matchsticks, just sounds like how good memories feel. It comes out this Tuesday, and their tour kicks off in Phoenix on June 16.

Click to Enjoy The Wooden Birds - Too Pretty To Say Please

Just because you know it's a zinger that she likes,
the name a younger her gave to a three-speed bike,
don't think for a second that you're ever in the words that she writes

I'm loving this album, and re-playing the shit out of it, and hoping I have a few spare hours this summer to make some memories. But for now this album goes with me everywhere.