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Archive for April, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Watch the trailer for Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You

On May 5th, the new Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You will make its theatrical premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Directed by Nickolas Rossi, the film is the first of its kind to feature Smith’s music and will include interviews with his closest friends and colleagues, such as his sister Ashley, ex-girlfriend and collaborator Joanna Bolme, Jon Brion, Neil Gust, Larry Crane, Rob Schnapf, and many more. It will also feature unreleased songs, personal pictures, and rare footage

In anticipation of the documentary’s release, the filmmakers have shared an intimate teaser trailer focusing on Smith’s music and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his mesmerizing performances. Watch it below

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Arcade Fire Take You Behind the Scenes of the Reflektor Tour in New Video

Arcade Fire and VEVO have produced a short behind-the-scenes video exploring the band’s ongoing Reflektor tour. The bobbleheads and infamous dress code are all featured. Will Butler and Richard Reed Parry explain their desire to make arenas feel more like warehouses, with insights from opening act Dan Deacon as well as members of the band’s tour crew. Watch it below via Arcade Fire Tube.

Death- III (Album Review)

Death, it seems is not the end. Indeed, this visionary Detroit band picked their name and tried to focus on the positive connotations of the word. Not for them the ideas of finality; instead they pushed for new starts, innovation and the green shoots of life in the desolation of the past. Even the (actual) death of guitarist David Hackney in 2000 from lung cancer didn’t prevent the band from reforming and playing live.

III is the third release in a series of Death albums from Drag City celebrating the trailblazing band. The first, For The Whole World To See, allowed their 1976 to see the light of day. Then came Spiritual • Mental • Physical, a collection of demos and recordings made prior to the 1974 United Sound sessions.

Now this third collection gathers songs from various periods (including some long after the band had effectively ceased to be). Astonishingly, rather than the sound of desperate barrel scraping (although surely the cupboard is now totally bare), these songs document a band that constantly sought to engage and push the boundaries of music. As a primer for the band though, a more comprehensive and informative introduction can be found in the form of the recent documentary A Band Called Death.

III kicks off with Introduction By David, essentially a 12 bar blues awash with effects and a punk spirit. As an improvisation, it’s fairly basic, but its rough feel and peculiar delayed opening give it a bullish Twilight Zone feel. Basic it may well be, but there’s an unbridled electricity crackling in those chord changes.

From there the collection moves to North Street (a track from 1980). A sharper and more together song, it rumbles along with the drive of The MC5, but David Hackney’s loose and free guitar solos pull on the influence of Jimi Hendrix and marries them to the stabbing urgency of punk and the street reportage of early hip-hop.

Open Road harks back to early Funkadelic (just as The Parliaments were transitioning) and throws a little soul and gospel into the slap-back rock n roll mix. Parliament comes to mind at the start of We Are Only People too, when a disembodied voice states “Like all things which passes within the universe… so shall Death”. If it then happened to mention that “from the ocean, comes the notion…” it wouldn’t have been a complete surprise. It is, however, another song that displays the band’s more spiritual side. Initially just a simple guitar motif and some wonderful vocal harmonies make it one of the more affecting songs on the album. For a moment “we are only people, just passing by” sounds like one of the most profound statements ever made. And then the band kick into gear and bring on the (soft) rock. If the conclusion of We Are Only People was a little too gentle, then Restlessness adds a bit more bite into the mix with its incessant drum pattern and howling blues guitar solos.

But it’s the delicate instrumental guitar track of First Snowfall In Detroit that really impresses. This emotional piece could easily sit alongside the likes of Maggotbrain but sadly the intuitive and beautiful musical vision of David Hackney just isn’t recognised as widely as it should be. With any luck, this release will go some way to changing that. The album closes with We’re Gonna To Make It another emotionally charged song that somehow manages to sound like Creedence Clearwater Revival accompanied by Sgt Pepper on Casio drum machine.

This collection might well be the end of the Death revelations, but perhaps it might inspire new shoots and future musicians. If that happens, then Death will still be a positive force.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Chad VanGaalen: Shrink Dust (Album Review)

Chad VanGaalen has long been a bastion of weirdo, Canadian art rock. But on his fifth LP, Shrink Dust, the multi-talented avant-pop songwriter can be found exploring a more refined sonic palette.

Concurrently inspired by his long-awaited spaghetti western, sci-fi odyssey Tarboz, as well as his recent interest in the work of country-fried recording artists like Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Shrink Dust is an album with maximalist thematic potential but minimalist instrumentation.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the album is VanGaalen’s use of pedal steel guitar, an instrument he coerces into wavering chords and lovelorn melodies on tracks like “Hangman’s Son” and “Weighed Sin” in place of the similarly modular synthesizer experimentations of his early career. Elsewhere, astute acoustic guitar playing (album opener “Cut Off My Hands”) and AM pop ditties (“Monster,” tremolo-heavy number “All Will Combine”) showcase VanGaalen’s increased sense of confidence in the studio, making Shrink Dust one of his best recorded efforts to date.

Similar to the psychedelic, sun-soaked song structures of Beck’s 2002 release, Sea Change, or his most recent LP, hardcore VanGaalen fans may take issue with the album’s overall sense of sameness and mellow vibe (outside of the Thee Oh Sees-aping garage rock of “Leaning on Bells”). Still, for those who like their space-age folk rock with a strong sense of humility, it doesn’t get much chiller than this.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Jack White and Third Man Records gave Nashville fans a treat when they recorded and delivered the World’s Fastest Studio-to-Store Record.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


As we continue to wait for the long overdue solo LP Beth Gibbons is supposedly recording for Domino—it was announced nearly a year ago, with no mention of any new music since—the Portishead singer has popped up on her most unlikely collaboration yet: a cover of the title track from Black Sabbath’s debut album. Available in video form below, it features a note-for-note rendition of the sludge-dipped song by the instru-metal trio Gonga and Gibbons bringing some tormented soul vibes to her Ozzy vocals.

Have a listen here, and if you’re in the UK, look for the clear vinyl “Black Sabbeth” pressing that landed in bins last weekend for Record Store Day…

Watch: Dum Dum Girls’ new technicolor video for “Rimbaud Eyes”

On each and every one of their Too True videos thus far, Dum Dum Girls have experimented with a host of different stylistic techniques. The girls blanketed themselves in hazy kaleidoscopic motifs on “Too True To Be Good”. Meanwhile, with the help of writer Bret Easton Ellis, “Are You Okay” played out as a bizarre, 11-minute psychological thriller. Now, Dee Dee Penny & Co. enter the world of animation with their new clip for “Rimbaud Eyes”.

Directed by Tamaryn and animated by Gooby Herms, the video finds Dum Dum Girls rockin’ the technicolor cartoon life while dreamily exploring neon downtowns and magical, underwater realms. Watch it above.

Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold explains band’s hiatus

Fleet Foxes aren’t on a hiatus per se, but they’ve certainly remained out of sight for quite some time now. The last we heard from the Seattle band was their excellent sophomore album, 2011′s Helplessness Blues. Sure, it’s only been three years, but three years easily feels like a lifetime in music land. Consider this: in that time, former drummer J. Tillman has not only launched his project Father John Misty, but is already prepping his second LP.

For those of us itching to hear from the Fleet Foxes camp — we’ll take any bit of news, really — today’s our lucky day. Frontman Robin Pecknold has shared a short update via the band’s Facebook page, explaining the reasons for their radio silence (spoiler: he went back to school), as well as assuring that new music is on its way. Read the full message below:

For anyone who’s curious, this is a short Fleet Foxes update – been a while! So, after the last round of touring, I decided to go back to school. I never got an undergraduate degree, and this felt like the right time to both see what that was about and to try something new after a while in the touring / recording lifestyle. I moved to New York and enrolled at Columbia, and I’ve mostly been doing that, but I’m working on songs and excited for whatever happens next musically, even if it’s down the line. Hope all is well out there.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pixies – Indie Cindy: Exclusive album stream

You could say it’s been a while since Pixies last put out an album: it was way back in 1991 that the Boston band released Trompe le Monde, after all. Since then, the group’s reputation has grown, transforming Pixies from cult heroes to one of the most admired alternative rock bands in the world.

It would be impossible for the band to release new material without being weighed down by some degree of expectation. If this had been released a year after their last album, it would have fit perfectly adequately into Pixies’ discography. What Goes Boom is a properly thrilling opener, possessing one of those sinister riffs Black Francis used to turn out at will; it’s followed by Greens and Blues, in which the patented stately-acoustic-guitar-overlaid-with-spectral-electric-lead-line Pixies trick is deployed effectively.

So what do you think? Does it stand up to the band’s previous work? Or is it a disappointment compared to such monumental works as Surfer Rosa and Doolittle?

You can pre-order the album here

Led Zeppelin unleash unheard recordings

Legendary rock group Led Zeppelin have unveiled two previously unheard recordings ahead of the reissue of the band’s first three albums in June.

The two tracks – blues classic Keys to the Highway, recorded in 1970, and an early version of the famous song Whole Lotta Love – are among dozens of tracks which the band will officially release alongside the reissues.

The companion discs will feature alternative versions of songs, works in progress and live performances, all recorded at the time of the original albums.

The tracks, like hundreds of others, had been carefully catalogued but then locked away in the the band’s archive for decades.

Guitarist Jimmy Page, 70, has spent two-and-a-half years combing through the vaults, listening to hundreds of quarter-inch tapes before choosing the best material.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Jack White – “Lazaretto” (Full Song Stream)

The title track from Jack White’s new album LAZARETTO out June 9/10. Pre-order the album now:

Thee Oh Sees: Drop (Album Review)

It’s a little hard to tell – their numerous lineups, incarnations and releases are not easy to keep track of – but this is something like the 12th Oh Sees studio album in eight years. The constant is John Dwyer, San Francisco rock luminary (who recently moved to Los Angeles – perhaps a bit of a ravens-leaving-the-tower moment for SF’s celebrated modern-day psych scene) and apparently inexhaustible human wellspring of weird, lovely noises. The various sides of Thee Oh Sees – the world-beatingly loud’n’fast live garage band; the swirlier, prettier home-taped psych-pop solo project; the synth-kraut-spacerock explorers – are comprehensively represented on Drop, and in songs such as Encrypted Bounce (a sleek, pulsing rocker with a sharp, sour tang), Put Some Reverb On My Brother (a playful psychedelic colour-riot) and Transparent World (a woozy, alien cloud of melodious drones), Dwyer sounds on the creative form of his life. There was talk last year of a major Oh Sees hiatus; but this new album and plenty of live dates this summer would seem to make a lie of such a notion. And amen to that.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Black Lips and Boy George Cover T.Rex’s “Bang a Gong”

The Black Lips and Boy George performed separate sets at Philadelphia radio station WXPN’s Free at Noon double-header concert. They also decided to team up for a cover of T. Rex’s glam rock classic, “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”. Watch the video below, via WXPN.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mastodon Share “High Road” Off Upcoming Album Once More Round the Sun

Following 2011’s The Hunter, Mastodon will release its next full-length, Once More Around the Sun, this year. Today they’ve shared its first track, “High Road”, as SPIN points out. Listen above. According to SPIN, the record will be out sometime in June on Warner Brothers.

Produced by Nick Raskulinecz (Deftones, Alice in Chains), Once More Around the Sun is “60-or-so minutes of pure, authentic Mastodon,” as singer/bassist Troy Sanders told Paste. According to Paste, highlights include “Ember City” and “Diamonds in the Witch House,” which features guest vocals from Neurosis’ Scott Kelly.

Sanders told Paste:
A lot of people ask us if it kicks off where The Hunter left off. And to a large degree, I suppose yes. We recorded it and took it on the road with us, and then we headed back to our rehearsal space and started working out ideas. I’ve had a lot of time to ingest this record, and it’s solid. It’s a large slab of granite. I’m once again completely proud of these guys.”

Mastodon are on the road this spring and summer:

04-28 Seattle, WA – Showbox Sodo
04-29 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
05-01 Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
05-02 Los Angeles, CA – Club Nokia
05-03 Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
05-04 Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
05-07 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
05-08 Chicago, IL – The Riviera Theater
05-09 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
05-10 Toronto, Ontario – Sound Academy
05-12 Buffalo, NY – The Town Ballroom
05-13 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
05-15 New York, NY – Terminal 5
05-16 Boston, MA – The Palladium
05-17 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
05-18 Columbus, OH – Rock On The Range
05-28 Helsinki, Finland – Sonisphere Festival
05-30 Stockholm, Sweden – STHLM Fields Festival
06-01 Oslo, Norway – Sonisphere Festival
06-03 Horsens, Dernmark – Jailhouse Rock Festival
06-04 Hamburg, Germany – Imtech Arena
06-06 Nurburgring, Germany – Rock Am Ring
06-07 Bavaria, Germany – Rock Im Park
06-09 Landgraff, Holland – Pinkpop
06-11 Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7 KONZERTFABRIK
06-13 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
06-20 Montebello, Quebec – Amnesia Rockfest
06-26 Zwolle, Netherlands – Hedon
06-27 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Melkweg
06-28 Dessel, Belgium – Graspop
06-29 Moscow, Russia – Moscow Park Live
07-03 Arras, France – Main Square Festival
07-04 Paris, France – Le Zénith
07-06 Knebworth, England – Sonisphere
07-18 Nordfjordeid, Norway – Malakoff Rock Festival
07-19 Tromsø, Norway – Bukta Open Air Festival
09-06 Raleigh, North Carolina – Hopscotch Music Festival

Black Flag and FLAG Settle Trademark Lawsuit

In August of last year, Black Flag founder Greg Ginn—who is currently leading the Black Flag reunion project—sued his former bandmates Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, and Bill Stevenson. Along with Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton, they’d started another Black Flag reunion project, called FLAG. Ginn claimed that the name “FLAG” and their logo were rights owned exclusively by his label, SST. Ginn sought an injunction against their tour, but lost.

Now a settlement has finally been reached in the trademark case, as The Hollywood Reporter notes. On April 10, both groups declared that they’d reached a settlement. “FLAG gets to be FLAG, and Black Flag as it is presently known continues to be Black Flag,” Evan Cohen, the attorney for Greg Ginn, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Watch FLAG play “My War” last year: