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Archive for July, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (Album Review)

California 10-piece Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros somehow embodies the ultimate modern-hippie stereotype while still exuding a refreshing authenticity. The mostly bearded men and long-haired women in the folksy collective unabashedly don their retro influences (think floral prints, scarves, feathers and floppy hats) while performing, and their live show truly encapsulates the uninhibited, collaborative celebration of music.

It’s unfortunate, then, that the band’s third album sounds so restrained. Ringleader Alex Ebert produced the album and sonically, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros feels slick and compressed. The jangly guitars, playful percussion and strange psychedelic feedback that zoomed across headphones in stereo on the band’s 2009 debut Up From Below aren’t necessarily absent on this record, but they’re certainly buried in the production. Particularly, the end of the album feels like a depository for mellow ballads, during which Ebert’s singing veers closer to a low-voiced drone.

The self-titled record is not all polished constraint though. Ebert’s blinding optimism shines on the three-peat “Let’s Get High,” “Two” and “Please!” each following its predecessor’s quirky cheer. “Country Calling,” a tune about leaving Los Angeles, plays up the raucousness through sporadic guitar fills and comical, Beatles-esque sound effects. Even “If I Were Free,” which would actually feel appropriate on the The Lion King soundtrack, brings a romping fun to the record.

The album kicker, however, the song that seems to both defend and capitulate to these sonic choices, is the candidly conciliatory “Life Is Hard.” As Ebert earnestly beckons, “come celebrate, life is hard,” it’s difficult not to want to join him and his merry pranksters, at least on part of this record.

Listen: New TV on the Radio: “Mercy”

TV on the Radio are at work on material for their next LP, but before that, they’re releasing a single on member Dave Sitek’s label Federal Prism, as mentioned in March. At their curated edition of ATP they performed a new song, “Mercy”, which appears to be said Federal Prism single. check it out below.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Video: Sebadoh: “All Kinds”

Lou Barlow’s 90s lo-fi indie rock act Sebadoh will release Defend Yourself on September 17 on Joyful Noise in the U.S. and September 16 on Domino in the UK. It’s the first Sebadoh album in 14 years. Today, they’ve shared a silly clip for “All Kinds”, which features some quick portraits of the band (shot on a camera phone), plus some extreme close-ups of some cats and a tiny dog.
Sebadoh’s U.S. tour also starts tonight– check out the dates below.

07-30 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Theater
07-31 San Francisco, CA – Cafe Du Nord
08-02 Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
08-03 Seattle, WA – Barboza
08-05 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
08-06 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
08-09 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Lounge
08-10 San Diego, CA – The Casbah
08-11 Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room


Jack White has just donated $200,000 to the National Recording Preservation Foundation. The inaugural gift will help publicly launch the foundation as well as set the National Recording Preservation Plan in motion. The plan follows a 2000 congressional act that aims to catalog and preserve the United States’ recording history. Part of White’s donation will go towards converting an 8-track collection to digital, among other other things. However, time is of the essence, according to Executive Director Gerald Seligman. Via Washington Post:

“It’s thrilling,” Executive Director Gerald Seligman said, to be able to publicly launch the foundation. He cited White and foundation board members as extremely committed to preservation.

“Here we have a whole nation of cultural heritage in recorded sound [and] a lot of it is in precarious shape,” Seligman said. “Some was recorded on very fragile media — like old cylinders, acetates, reel-to-reel tapes — and it’s turning into shards.”

Now that preservation is underway, he said, time is of the essence: “Some of these things have got to be saved quick.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Watch: The Flaming Lips Cover Devo’s “Gates of Steel”

Last week, the Flaming Lips have shared the video for their Terror track “Turning Violent”. Today, they’ve shared a new video for a non-album cut– their cover of Devo’s Freedom of Choice track “Gates of Steel” (via Stereogum). It was shot during the same session as the “Turning Violent” video, and it features a group of people covering each other in glitter.

Below “Gates of Steel”, check out “Turning Violent”.

Built to Spill Announce Fall North American Tour

Doug Martsch and his new Built to Spill lineup have announced a North American tour for the fall. Along with existing guitarists Brett Netson and Jim Roth, the dates will feature Steve Gere on drums and Jason Albertini on bass, as on their recent spring tour.
According to a press release, the group are currently still working on their followup to 2009’s There Is No Enemy, which will be released through Warner Bros.

Revisit Jayson Greene’s Overtones column on Built to Spill and watch the band play a full set in Sacramento in April after the dates.

Built to Spill:
07-23 Oklahoma City, OK – Rock for Oklahoma Benefit
08-10 Olga, WA – Doe Bay Festival
10-16 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court *$
10-17 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater *$
10-18 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room ^
10-19 Lawrence, KS – The Bottleneck ^
10-20 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird ^
10-21 Bloomington, IL – The Castle Theatre *$
10-22 Newport, KY – Southgate House *$
10-23 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel *$
10-24 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse *$
10-25 Jacksonville, FL – Free Bird Live *$
10-26 Orlando, FL – Beacham Theater *$
10-27 Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room *$
10-28 Gainesville, FL – High Dive *$
10-29 Charleston, SC – The Music Farm *$
10-30 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle *$
10-31 Richmond, VA – The Canal Club *$
11-01 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club *$
11-02 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer *!
11-03 Lancaster, PA – Chameleon Club *!%
11-05 Hamden, CT – Spaceland Ballroom *!
11-06 Pawtucket, RI – The Met *!
11-07 New York, NY – Irving Plaza *!
11-08 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club *!#
11-09 Ithaca, NY – State Theater *!
11-10 Buffalo, NY – The Town Ballroom *!
11-11 Millvale, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre *!
11-12 Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop *!
11-13 Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall *!
11-14 Chicago, IL – Metro *!
11-15 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom *!
11-16 Madison, WI – Barrymore Theatre *!
11-17 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue *!
11-18 Iowa City, IA – Blue Moose Tap House *$
11-20 Little Rock, AR – The Rev Room *$
11-21 Dallas, TX – Granada Theater *$
11-22 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s *$
11-23 Austin, TX – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre *$
11-24 El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls *$
11-25 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress *$+
11-26 Las Vegas, NV – Vinyl *$
11-27 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge *$

* with Slam Dunk
$ with Genders
^ with Lee Ranaldo & The Dust
% with Crosss
! with The Warm Hair
# with Parasol
+ with Lenguas Largas

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Mike D in a recent interview:
“Now I’m going to sound like a name-dropping asshole, but it all came about thanks to the director and my friend and longtime associate, Spike Jonze,” Diamond explains to Rolling Stone via cell phone as he drives home in Los Angeles after dropping his kids off at basketball camp. “Spike vouched for [Kenzo co-head designer Humberto Leon]. I was a little apprehensive. It might shock you, but I haven’t been to that many fashion shows, and I’d never done a commissioned piece for a fashion house. In my own naïveté I expected I’d be talking to, like, Will Ferrell’s character in Zoolander, which turned out not to be the case at all with Humberto. The show itself, meanwhile, turned out to be a full-on theatrical experience held in a circus school in the outskirts of Paris – to come back to Zoolander, it wasn’t just dudes walking down a runway in a tent. It was the type of artful shit you never get to do in New York, where fashion shows are all about just money.”

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Purity Ring, METZ, More Make Polaris Prize Short List

The long list has been whittled down, and today, the short list has been announced for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize. The honor for best album of the year by a Canadian artist could go to nominees including Purity Ring’s Shrines, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, Metz’s Metz, Metric’s Synthetica, Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob, Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light, Young Galaxy’s Ultramarine, and others. Mac DeMarco, Daphni, Majical Cloudz, and Rhye were among the long list artists that were snubbed. The winner will be announced at the Polaris Gala on September 23. Last year’s award went to Feist for Metals. The prize winner is selected by a large panel of Canadian journalists and broadcasters. The winner receives $30,000.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Video: The Flaming Lips: “Turning Violent”

The Flaming Lips have shared the video for “Turning Violent” from The Terror. There are touches of the light show spectacle we’ve all come to expect from the band, but otherwise, the clip is about as sparse as the track itself. The band play in a pale room while a quiet ritual seems to be occurring.


Thom Yorke and Radiohead might be one of the biggest bands, well, of all time, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten what it feels like to start from the bottom. Actually, he remembers so well, he just pulled all his Atoms for Peace music and solo work from the Spotify playlists in a move of solidarity with new and underpaid artists.

He and his close friend, producer and Atoms for Peace collaborator Nigel Goodrich explain their reasoning via Pitchfork:

In a series of tweets, Godrich explained that the move is in protest of Spotify’s business model. “The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model. It’s an equation that just doesn’t work,” he writes.

Yorke added, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid. meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples.”

Goodrich continued that such a move was vital to the protection of creativity in music.

“If people had been listening to spotify instead of buying records in 1973… I doubt very much if [Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon] would have been made.. It would just be too expensive.”

Let’s see if this move sparks any similar action from other artists.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Jay Z- Magna Carta Holy Grail (Album Review)

Magna Carta… Holy Grail isn’t going to stop being divisive any time soon. That much I think we can say with certainty. Opinions on just about every moment on this record appear up for grabs, in part thanks to a engagingly distracting marketing plan involving Samsung and #newrules. One of the #newrules #TeamHov seemed to overlook in this increasingly bizarre release strategy is that, by cutting a majority of one’s rabid fanbase out of the zeitgeist moment, you invite a torrenting typhoon. Torrent Freak reported record-breaking transfer rates for the album, which Jay-Z’s team may have been able to spin positively if not for the fact pirating out of a phone app led to all kinds of audio artifacting and general lossy files misbehavior.

For many, this album will probably always be defined by that sepia-toned version of the record, which is a shame because in its full splendor Magna Carta… Holy Grail actually serves quite a few of the masters folks have been complaining Jay’s been uninterested in since the release of Blueprint 3. He makes some very odd choices subject matter-wise, and it’s undeniable that there are verses on here (that we’ll get to a little later) that just… end. Jay’s newly-energetic bounce (reminiscent of his Volume 2 / Volume 3 period) dramatically peters out long before the bridge or chorus comes around and the artiste embarrassingly self-satisfied with mediocre language. But there are other moments where Jay is so candid and honest about the way he feels about the dichotomous way his present relates to his past…

For example, the final verse on “Picasso Baby” is a little wandering and doesn’t even feel all that true in terms of how police officers respond to Jay’s presence, but his paranoia over the way anonymous citizens disparage his daughter is very real, as is his disappointment in the ways people keep telling him to hang up his headphones just because he’s on the wrong end of 40. One could also point to the way Jay-Z closes “Crown”, another paranoia-ridden track about his trepidation towards success, and see Jay mining similar territory as the conscious-vs-material arguments scattered throughout 2004’s The Black Album.

The problem is that, much like Yeezus, a finely captivating performance and some of the cleanest, more interesting production of the year is marred by some of the most vain vocals a hip-hop listener can expect to hear. Jay will stumble upon lovely little moments of language (“Boat dock in front of Hermes picking cotton”, “See me in shit you never saw / If it wasn’t for these pictures you wouldn’t see me at all” in “Oceans”) but against the entirety of a verse with useless cocaine references and glanced-at allusions to the Middle Passage and juxtaposing Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” against July 4th, the Samsung phone release date of the album, they are just moments of coincidence. At every turn you can hear hints of Jay-Z’s slight discomfort over having become a brand, a consumable for the public to chew up and spit out. It’s just, Lamborghinis and Basquiats keep getting in the way, and who is any modern human being to blame another for succumbing to distraction, he asks.

There’s really no shame in Jay-Z rapping about the life he’s been describing ever since “comeback” record Kingdom Come. I don’t particularly care that I can’t relate to “going ape at the auction” or “blue bloods… trying to clown on me”. The issue with Magna Carta…Holy Grail lies in a lack of subtlety best exemplified by the opening track, the Justin Timberlake dominated “Holy Grail”. Tucked into the middle of the song is an exceptionally engaging Jay-Z moment complete with a super funky breakdown near the end, which Jay wastes on stringing a series of “niggas” together as rhyme like his protegé, J. Cole. But for most of it’s five and a half minutes, we’ve got Justin Timberlake wandering around, warbling about some woman neither of these men are dealing with (unless we’re to believe Jessica Biel and Beyoncé are some kind of succubi) in the dark.

What makes coming to a conclusion about Magna Carta… Holy Grail distressing is that despite all of these complaints, for 58 minutes I’m finding it hard to argue there are much more entertaining albums out there this year. Jay-Z’s on his C-game a lot of the time here as far as the words, but in terms of presence and performance it’s hard to find a more engaged Jay-Z at any point in the post-Young Chris era. Hearing him awkwardly repurpose early ‘90s indie rock in an effort to prove he’s not just talking shit in interviews is goofy, but I’ve got to enjoy that about this Jay-Z, a 43-year old half-a-billionaire singing Nirvana lyrics earnestly on an album only money could buy. His attempts to mine memes out of his subjects, such as “Somewhere in America’s” “twerk Miley, Miley twerk” coda, are almost always clumsy but his conviction in them is always admirable.

In the end, Magna Carta… Holy Grail has to be a disappointment if only because Timbaland (with Jerome Harmon’s helping hand) handling most of the music here and that not resulting in a chasm of god-awful pop-tart garbage is tantamount to any number of small miracles, and yet Jay-Z rewards that effort with his least-concentrated set of lyrics maybe ever. But the album doesn’t seem as though it will be able to exist on those terms; it’s instead being measured by the amount of times we can refer to Jay-Z’s many corporate sponsorships and 1%er business opportunities, in all the ways we can find to praise what Jay-Z represents to the pop world while belittling all that he does with that power. Magna Carta… Holy Grail lacks the year-defining singles that made Blueprint 3 evade “flop” status, but it’s undeniably the most cohesive thing Jay’s been a part of since the original Blueprint.

At 43 years old, Jay-Z’s made an exceptionally contemporary hip-hop album that succeeds on every leg but the one Jay’s always most readily admitted he struggles standing on for long periods of time. As a fun, interesting summer solstice I believe the guy’s done his job, and honest to God Jay-Z fans shouldn’t have much to be worried about with this release. It’s the folks that hide behind Samsung as an excuse to dislike #MCHG, rather than blame Jay-Z directly as a rapper, that fear this album and vice versa. It’s fun to throw unironic quotes around his infamous, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” one-liner and wax poetic about what that means for his art, but let’s not forget there’s actually an album here that Jay-Z clearly had a concrete vision and excitement for, or that hip-hop royalty in 2013 encompasses a fair amount more than on-paper lyricism.

The fact of the matter is, Jay-Z probably just can’t carry an entire album anymore if you’re a lyrics head. But Jay was always custom built for a world where beats take precedence over rhymes—one could argue he’s the most influential artist in birthing that formula—and Magna Carta is that quite explicitly. I’m willing to be fine with that.

Pearl Jam Announce New Album Lightning Bolt and Tour, Share “Mind Your Manners”

Start practicing your Eddie Vedder impression! Pearl Jam have a new album coming out, their first since 2009’s Backspacer. It’s called Lightning Bolt, and it arrives on October 15 via Monkeywrench/Republic. You can hear the first single, “Mind Your Manners”, below.

Pearl Jam will also head out on tour in support of the new album– dates below, followed by a trailer for the album:
Pearl Jam:
07-16 London, Ontario – Budweiser Gardens
07-19 Chicago, IL – Wrigley Field
10-11 Pittsburgh, PA – Consol Energy Center
10-12 Buffalo, NY – First Niagra Center
10-15 Worcester, MA – DCU Center
10-18 Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
10-19 Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center
10-21 Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Arena
10-22 Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Arena
10-25 Hartford, CT – XL Center
10-27 Baltimore, MD – 1st Mariner Arena
10-29 Charlottesville, VA – John Paul Jones Arena
10-30 Charlotte, NC – Time Warner Cable Arena
11-01 New Orleans, LA – Voodoo Festival
11-15 Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
11-16 Oklahoma City, OK – Chesapeake Energy Arena
11-19 Phoenix, AZ – Arena
11-21 San Diego, CA – Viejas Arena
11-23 Los Angeles, CA – Sports Arena
11-24 Los Angeles, CA – Sports Arena
11-26 Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena
11-29 Portland, OR – Rose Garden Arena
11-30 Spokane, WA – Spokane Arena
12-02 Calgary, Alberta – Scotiabank Saddledome
12-04 Vancouver, British Columbia – Rogers Arena
12-06 Seattle, WA – Key Arena

“Mind Your Manners”:

Album Trailer:


To celebrate their 25th anniversary (wow, do we feel old), Sub Pop Records is throwing a massive concert this Saturday that will shut down an entire street in Seattle. The mini-festival will feature performances from the label’s esteemed roster, a comedy showcase, as well as a panel discussion covering the early days of Sub Pop with co-founders Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt. Via Rolling Stone:

The venerable label is even closing down a major Seattle road for the all-day festival, featuring performances from Built to Spill, long-time Sub Pop act Mudhoney, J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. and Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs, among others. Poneman promised the festival will be a “quintessentially Seattle experience” for locals and visitors who are coming from around the world. He noted he measures the Sub Pop anniversary milestone from 1988, when he and co-founder Bruce Pavitt started to run the label full-time.

“We’re just gonna play songs,” says Mark Arm, vocalist-guitarist of Mudhoney. “Nothing too insane. We’re not gonna be pulling frogs out of our asses or anything.”

Oh, bummer. Well, since Sub Pop is still an integral part of the Seattle music scene, we still recommend going – even if you won’t be treated to any amphibious foreplay.

Monday, July 8, 2013 is getting a tuneup

We have a little backend work that needs to be done, won’t be posting for a couple of days. We will return shortly.