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Archive for June, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

PUP – RESERVOIR (Official Video)


Toronto’s very own Pup has a bloody good video, enjoy!

A Sunny Day In Glasgow: Sea When Absent (Album Review)


We tend to think of noise as something that obscures or confronts – either the haze that makes bands like No Age or Japandroids mysterious or the storm clouds that made Sonic Youth “dangerous” or provocative. So it can be jarring when one finds that A Sunny Day In Glasgow, on their very good new album, Sea When Absent, have managed to turn a three-decade tradition of wall-scraping audio difficulty into deeply enjoyable pop music. Where Cloud Nothings (for instance) offer gnarled tunefulness despite the aural whirlwinds that wrap around their weary emo, so that the band’s agile melodies seem hard-won, fighting their way to the top of a maelstrom, A Sunny Day In Glasgow have more or less become sculptors of sound, turning discord and dissonance into harmonic loveliness.

“Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)” treats this taste for noise like a thesis statement as waves of brittle static fall in sheets around hop-scotching drums and singer Jen Goma’s buoyant high alto. Built (one would guess) from the gloaming echoes of a hyper-distorted guitar and bass, that fog simply creates the effect of light beaming through stained glass, giving the whole song a dreamy yet radiant quality that suits its early 60’s girl-group melodies, its twee-pop sense of proportion and charm. When Goma’s melody archs upward in the song’s quiet bridge, surrounded only by studio-crushed drums, you find yourself looking forward to a new cascade of sound like the lulls in a midway ride. Like the swell of Motown horns, A Sunny Day In Glasgow’s aural monoliths become pleasure-center apexes. Indeed, when a quick flash of Supremes-esque melody lances through “In Love With Useless”, clouding with bit-crushing studio effects, that mix of static-y futurism and pop classicism grows even more literal. Many of these songs have the effect of a cut-and-glue collage, different layers and patches of ecstatic, brilliant noise creating an ever-refracting surface of electrified harmony and counterpoint.

Yet the baroque sonic maximalism of Sea When Absent works best when it’s used as punctuation or accent, and is less successful when, as on “The Things They Do” it appears to be the end in and of itself. But these moments are largely exceptions to the rule, and if anything, A Sunny Day In Glasgow are increasingly honing a taste for an oeuvre of airy pop that runs from Madonna through Camera Obscura to Solange. Indeed, the retro-experimentalism of Solange’s most recent album, True, is echoed by the light-hearted R&B of “Crushin’” (whose title already sounds like early 90’s electro-soul), a song dappled with rubbery keyboards and boasting a lovely sing-song of melody, with refrains like “See it in your heart” evoking a very specific field of pre-millennium pop music.

If a melody begins to grow ponderous (this happens from time to time) or a section turns hazy like a gathering cumulus, one can more often than not wait a breath or two for the whole thing to burst into a summer shower or swell into a dazzling field of gleeful noise. Indeed, like a more cerebral version of the bass drops that make dubstep go, you find yourself taken with the pattern of low-lying verses and skyrocketing choruses until you wait for each song’s lift-off, and marvel when, as on “The Body Bends,” a Belle And Sebastian-scaled bit of indie-folk expands like a balloon into something more celebratory, giddy, bright. When an actual honest-to-goodness horn section comes in, a bit of organic radiance amongst the otherwise synthetic landscapes A Sunny Day In Glasgow tend to build, the effect is wonderful, the aural equivalent of a finely tuned firework finale.

In the grand tradition of many a forward-thinking pop record, Sea When Absent is an album of parts. It is a collection of moments throughout which you look forward to the sudden blossom of a hook on “I’m A Wrecker”, the magisterial, swaying pomp that begins “Golden Waves” (the album’s final track, and its sheer high point) and the blankets of harmony that wrap its middle. You find yourself looking forward to these widened vistas and sudden climaxes even on a second or third listen. In that sense, A Sunny Day have just about mastered the pleasure principle of a certain kind of agreeably arty pop music, a tradition as wide-ranging as to have room for both Kate Bush and Postal Service—two influences at the edges of what this band does. Which is to say that the band’s indifference to formal definitions of “verse” “chorus” —even “song” in the ABABB sense—are besides the point. Their interest lies instead in sugar rushes and ice cream headaches—the scenes from movies you search out on YouTube like four minute recharges.

Spoon Perform “Rent I Pay” and “Rainy Taxi” on “Kimmel”

Following a string of various live performances and tour announcements, Spoon were the musical guests on last night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live”. They performed “Rent I Pay” and “Rainy Taxi”, both of which will appear on the band’s forthcoming album They Want My Soul. Watch video of the performances below.

“Rent I Pay”:

“Rainy Taxi”:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O Announces First Solo Record, Crush Songs


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O has announced she’ll be releasing an album of solo tunes, Crush Songs, on September 9 via Julian Casablancas‘ pet label, Cult Records. None of the album’s songs have dropped yet. If it’s anything like her solo track The Moon Song for Spike Jonze’s cyborg movie Her, we can expect a delicately romantic first-love kind of album, or maybe it will be a little more like this. Crush Songs will be Karen O’s first solo LP.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mastodon: Once More ‘Round The Sun (Album Review)


“I can see what the world has done to you / I can feel the weight,” sings Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor on “The Motherload,” one of the strongest tracks on the Atlanta metal band’s sixth album, Once More ’Round The Sun. There’s a weariness to that title, and to the lyrics, but “The Motherload” doesn’t show it. First of all, producer Nick Raskulinecz—known for his work with Foo Fighters, Rush, Alice In Chains, and Deftones—applies an impregnable shell of slickness to the band’s tuneful, intricate layering of riffs. Beneath it, though, is a probing of pain and age that’s only slightly anesthetized.

Full of ghosts and scars, Once More ’Round The Sun couldn’t be further from Mastodon’s last full-length, 2011’s The Hunter. Instead of a grab-bag of tracks, the new album is a return to the conceptual template the group once exclusively used. Here, the thematic arc doesn’t overshadow the material or even draw attention to itself. Songs like “High Road” and “Feast Your Eyes” combine the liquid riffs and needling hooks of guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds into sleek, anthemic weaponry, all while effortlessly navigating sky-high melodies and complex rhythms.

Once More ’Round The Sun is a nimble album, but it has its moments of emotional quicksand. “Chimes At Midnight” not only calls back—with a specific reference—to Mastodon’s 2004 breakthrough, Leviathan. It also gallops deeply and darkly into a fatalistic mood of mythic tragedy: “All my heroes / They’re all dead.” Scott Kelly of Neurosis, possessor of one of metal’s most doom-soaked voices, adds his gravelly gravity to the album’s eerie closer, “Diamond In The Witch House”—but it’s preemptively offset by the gloriously riotous guest vocals (provided by the Atlanta punk band The Coathangers) on “Aunt Lisa,” Dailor’s eulogy for his late aunt.

Dailor and crew went down a similar path on Mastodon’s 2009 album Crack The Skye, which was partly a tribute to his sister, who had committed suicide. Like the rest of Once More ’Round The Sun, however, the relative brightness of “Aunt Lisa” focuses more on the renewal that goes hand-in-glove with death. These are all elements Mastodon has used before, edited then distilled into impeccable, prog-metal songcraft. For the first time in its 14-year existence, Mastodon has made an album that breaks little new ground—but thanks to Once More ’Round The Sun’s balance between a light touch and a heavy vibe, it doesn’t have to.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jack White’s ‘Lazaretto’ Debuts at No. 1, Sets Vinyl Sales Record


Jack White claims his second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as “Lazaretto” bows in the top slot with 138,000 sold in the week ending June 15, according to NielsenSoundScan.

The effort follows his solo debut, “Blunderbuss,” which also opened atop the list and sold 138,000 in its first frame. (It sold a handful of copies less, actually, but when rounded to the nearest thousand, both figures become 138,000.)

“Lazaretto” — released on White’s Third Man Records label through Columbia Records — also sets the record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

The vinyl LP sold 40,000 copies — easily enough to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Vinyl Albums chart. (The vinyl edition of the album has many unusual bonus features that clearly intrigued consumers.)

It beats the debut of Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy,” which sold 34,000 vinyl LPs in its first week, back in 1994. (Notably, “Vitalogy” was issued on vinyl first, two weeks before its release on CD and cassette.)

“This is my proudest moment with Third Man Records, this object,” White said of the LP to Conan O’Brien during an appearance on “Conan” on June 11. During some of his recent TV appearances White has described some of the unique qualities the vinyl piece contains, like how the LP plays at three different speeds, the tracks it has hidden under the center label (that are playable) and how side A plays from the inside to the outside of the disc.

To put the sales of the vinyl “Lazaretto” in further perspective, the configuration on its own would have ranked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 this week. In total, vinyl LP sales of “Lazaretto” accounted for 28.9 percent of the album’s first-week sales — nearly beating the number of CDs that were sold (41,000; 30 percent of the album’s debut). Downloads were 41.1 percent.

Monday, June 23, 2014

BORIS: Noise (Album Review)


Over 22 years and 19 studio albums it’s fair to say that Boris has always been a band to explore new musical territory and revel in experimentation. This makes them a gloriously difficult band to pigeonhole and define accurately, simply because it is virtually impossible anticipate their next move. This is, after all, a band who released three very different albums in one year alone (Attention Please, Heavy Rocks, and New Album all arrived in 2011).

As you might expect from a band that takes their name from a Melvins track, Boris tend to explore the heavier end of the spectrum, whether it’s drone or doom (they collaborated with Sunn O))) on Altar), ’70s psych-rock (Heavy Rocks), something much more leftfield (their Merzbow collaboration), or dabbling with pop aesthetics, they never seem to be out of their comfort zone. This is primarily because they take music as a whole, ignoring genre boundaries and rules, and make the music they want to.

Noise is perhaps one of their defining statements in that it combines every approach the band has adopted previously and combines them in one breathtaking record. The title is a little misleading as this isn’t one of Boris’ more impenetrable, noisy albums, if anything; it’s one of the most accessible. Opening the record is Melody, a track that is positively swamped in the stuff. From it’s gentle, lilting open and onwards into shimmering power-pop this is Boris taking full on rock and inflating it with effortless hooks and vocal elegance. Certainly the noise is there in the frantic guitar work of Wata, in particular when she’s let off the leash to explore a mix of shoegaze and furious hard rock soloing, but it still sounds delightfully uplifting and glorious.

Recent single Vanilla defies all conventions and somehow manages to discover exactly what would have happened had the punks accepted rather than dismissed prog-rock. Raucous and ridiculous in scope it nevertheless succeeds brilliantly. Quicksilver thrashes along in a similar but much more direct vein. It pulls on thrash metal and hardcore vocals for its inspiration whilst also ensuring that there’s enough melody resonating in the vocals. Only at its close does it begin to melt into a slow, disintegrating sludge; something that long term fans of the band will recognise.
The atmospheric post-metal of Ghost Of Romance finds the band in more expansive mood. It’s genuinely haunting, and plays the long established quite-loud-quiet template wonderfully. There’s something about it that is not entirely dissimilar to the washes of Palms’ debut album, which is of course, no bad thing. Heavy Rain is doomier, more gothic fare, with Wata’s vocals and delayed guitars filling up negative space like the echoing whispers of ghosts. The crushing slow riffing of the last few minutes, juxtaposed with Wata’s sweet vocal lines provokes images of meteors falling on orphanages, or childlike visions of the apocalypse. It is by turns terrifying and utterly beautiful. As if recognising that things are starting to sound a little bleak, BORIS change take and throw in Taiyo No Baka, a quirky little j-pop number that wouldn’t be entirely out of place on a Shonen Knife album and that has vocals that might well have been culled from an EMF studio outtake.

Obviously the only place to go from there is on an enormous post-rock ramble, and Angel does just that. Clocking in at around 19 minutes it smoulders skilfully through delicate guitar passages before unfurling forcibly, creating powerful cavernous passages of sheer wonder. It resolves wonderfully via a chorus of harmonious feedback feeding into the same delicate guitar motif that introduced the song. As an example of Boris at their best, it’s hard to top, but this is an album that finds the band in particularly rude health. Noise never sounded so good.

SPOON ANNOUNCES NORTH AMERICAN HEADLINE TOUR


Spoon has announced a late summer North American headlining tour in support of their forthcoming eighth studio album, They Want My Soul. Along with a handful of festival dates, the band will be headlining throughout the Midwest and Eastern seaboard.

These dates follow Spoon’s triumphant return at festivals including Governors Ball — a performance ROLLING STONE hailed as the fest’s “Best Introduction of New Material” and raved “Spoon figured out how to please everyone… as if they were wrapping a bow around the whole set.”

A listing of confirmed dates and support can be found below. All dates are on sale Friday, June 27 at 10am local time with the exception of festival dates and the band’s August 30 Montreal show as special guests of Arcade Fire.

Visit http://www.spoontheband.com/shows/ for further details.

Spoon will release their new album, They Want My Soul, on August 5 via Loma Vista Recordings. Lead track “Rent I Pay” was premiered live from NYC on June 6 (http://n.pr/1qh22I1) and subsequently released as an unofficial video which can be seen here. Preorders for They Want My Soul are now live at iTunes, Amazon and http://www.spoontheband.com/. All preorders come with an instant download of “Rent I Pay”. A stunning exclusive pre-order bundle is also available via Spoon’s website. In this bundle, fans will find a limited edition vinyl LP, T-shirt, beach ball, postcards and handwritten lyric sheets. The first 100 bundle preorders will receive autographed lyric sheets.

SPOON
2014 TOUR

06/26-28/14 – Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
07/12-13/14 – Telluride, CO – The Ride Festival
07/18/14 – Louisville, KY – Forecastle Festival
07/25/14 – Seattle, WA – Capitol Hill Block Party
08/01/14 – Chicago, IL- Metro
08/02/14 – Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
08/05/14 – San Diego, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheatre at Chula Vista*
08/08/14 – Los Angeles, CA – The Fairbanks Lawn of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
08/10/14 – San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands
08/17/14 – Portland, OR – Musicfest NW
08/30/14 – Montreal, QC – Parc Jean Drapeau *
08/30-31/14 – Philadelphia, PA – Made in America Festival
09/02/14 – Washington, DC – Lincoln Theatre +
09/05/14 – Raleigh, NC – Hopscotch Music Festival
09/06/14 – Norfolk, VA – Norva +
09/07/14 – Boston, MA – Boston Calling Music Festival
09/10/14 – New York, NY – Central Park
09/11/14 – Pittsburgh, PA – Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead +
09/12/14 – Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room +
09/13/14 – Hamilton, ON – Supercrawl Festival
09/14/14 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Theatre +
09/16/14 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre ^
09/17/14 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theatre ^
09/18/14 – Madison, WI – Orpheum Theatre ^
09/19/14 – Minneapolis, MN – State Theatre ^
09/20/14 – St. Louis, MO – Pageant ^
09/21/14 – Lawrence, KS – Liberty Hall ^
09/23/14 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom ^
10/03-05/14 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/10-12/14 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
11/01/14 – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
11/02/14 – Hamburg, DE – Uebel & Gefarlich
11/03/14 – Basel, CH – Kaserne Reithalle
11/04/14 – Cologne, DE – Luxor
11/05/14 – Gent, BE – Vooruit
11/06/14 – Paris, FR – Trabendo
11/07/14 – London, UK – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

* supporting Arcade Fire
+ with Hamilton Leithauser
^ with EMA

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sub Pop Launches Subscription Service


Ghostly, Mad Decent, Domino, Stones Throw, Fool’s Gold, Dead Oceans: all of these labels have launched digitial subscription services through the Drip.fm platform. Now, Sub Pop is following suit, with a new service launched worldwide today.

Paid subscribers to the monthly service will receive digital versions of each new Sub Pop release via email on the day the material is released, as well as selections of the label’s older material. To please picky listeners, audio for all Sub Pop releases through the service will be available in either 320 kbps or WAV formats, with no DRM restrictions.

Upon joining, Sub Pop Drip.fm users can choose three releases from the label, including releases from clipping., Nirvana, Fleet Foxes, Earth and Shabazz Palaces, just to name a few. The first 100 subscribers will be entered to win a prize pack containing, Beach House’s Bloom LP (Loser Edition), a signed copy of the Deluxe edition of the Postal Service’s Give Up LP, the Record Store Day exclusive pressing of Mudhoney On Top, and more. Full info regarding these promotions is available on on the Sub Pop website.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rock*a*Teens: Atlanta, GA 6/6 & 6/7 (Live Review)


“Unless the elderly decide to riot” is my last cohesive thought, spoken out loud in a room full of ghosts & high expectations.

The Resurrection of the Rock*A*Teens is nigh! They take the stage, let us know it has been a rough week, death of a close friend, and with that, we are away.

“Black Metal Stars” somehow fills every inch of this room. You have to inhale it like the sticky air just to get your breath. It is as if not one moment has passed since they disbanded 12 years ago. Our high hopes were not high enough.

No one sounds like the Rock*A*Teens and as they careen through song after song, we all realize how much we have missed them.

Dang, even the song titles are poetic. “Little Caesar on a Bicycle”, “In the Woods of Hemlock Park”, “All That Deth Jazz”, “Leave What’s Left of Me”, “I Could’ve Just Died”, “Betwixt or Between”, “If I Wanted to be Famous(I’d Have Shot Someone)”.

My lovely friend, Bird, dubs them “John Irving-esque” which is apropos. Lyrically, not many songwriters come close to Chris Lopez. His verbosity and clear-cut love of language is staggering. And the music swirls & teeters & begs & pleads, always moving, always yearning, almost collapsing. The reverb drenched sonic-ness is breathtaking.

This is a two night affair. The first show is like being struck by lightning. Original drummer Chris Verene joins the band onstage for “Cry”, “Hinghanghung” & “Black Ice”. The addition of Michelle Dubois on keyboards, percussion & backing vocals is a genius stroke. Everyone looks happy to be back on stage.

Halfway through the two hour set, they play my all-time favorite song of theirs, “Put it Right Out of Your Mind” from “Sweet Bird of Youth”. I cannot believe my luck. We all hold hands and shout and sway. Later in the evening, I thank Lopez for playing it. He fought for it to stay in the set, he says. That makes him my spirit animal, I say. We all stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, completely sober but electrified by what we have just seen.

Night number two. We are all a little worse for the wear. Same room, different ghosts. Lopez’s voice is a little creakier but still magical. The set is similar to Friday’s but the inhabitants are the exact same.

About an hour in, Bird announces that this is like being in church. And it is. A rock & roll tent revival. We are baptized in song, drenched in the spirit of wonder. How lucky we are to witness this spectacle. We are unified, drunk on memories and awash in a sticky river of PBR and confetti.

And then, after all is said and done, they play one more song. My song. And I just kind of lose my mind. The Rock*A*Teens saved my life about 13 years ago and now, when I needed them most, when we all needed them most, they were back.

I don’t know why they were never more famous. They should have been everyone’s favorite band, the perfect blend of Bad Seeds & Panther Burns with just a hint of maudlin, Smithsian charm. They make raucous records that sound a hundred times better live. They are Southern and smart, like a Tennessee Williams play.

Trying to describe these nights is impossible. It’s like trying to tell someone about the amazing dream you had last night. No matter what you say, you can never convey how beautiful it was or how much it meant to you. All I can say is this…

Athens GA, Carrboro NC, Philly, Boston and Brooklyn. Count your lucky stars! For the Rock*A*Teens are inching their way towards you. Put on your dancing shoes and grab some Kleenex. It’s going to be a hell of a night.

(Review by: Lisa Matson)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Andrew Bird: Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…(Album Review)


Indelibly linked through their shared time in Chicago during the mid-to late- ‘90s and early ‘00s, Andrew Bird and the Handsome Family’s Brett and Rennie Sparks have a long history together. There’s a sense of mutual admiration expressed by each in concert, often affectionately recalling their time spent together in the Windy City. Bird made his first Handsome Family-related appearance on the duo’s 2000 release In the Air, contributing violin on three tracks. He’s since gone on to cover their song “The Giant of Illinois” both regularly in concert and for the Dark Was the Night compilation in 2009, all the while extolling the band’s virtues and spreading the good word.

While neither are necessarily household names, Bird’s musical and pop cultural stature is certainly greater than that of the Handsome Family’s on a broader scale and with each performance in which he takes on a Handsome Family number, their respective audiences hopefully grow. His affection and appreciation of and for the group is evident in the almost reverential love and care with which he performs the criminally overlooked duo’s solid catalog of gothic country, murder ballads and Americana.

It’s quite fitting then that Bird would decide to tackle an entire album of Handsome Family covers, bringing to light one of the darker bodies of work in contemporary American music. With Rennie crafting the literate, at times darkly funny lyrics and Brett delivering them in a monotone baritone that often resembles a foghorn, the Handsome Family’s living room-recorded albums are not always for everyone. From their sparse arrangements to the sometimes thin sounding production, listeners generally come for the songs more than the sounds being presented. Besides, full immersion in the Handsome Family requires attendance at one of the pair’s concerts wherein they often go off on bizarre asides, sharing amusing anecdotes and generally acting like an old married couple on stage in between, and occasionally during, songs.

With Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…, Bird reimagines ten Handsome Family songs, recreating them in his own, often more classical-leaning image. Gone are the Sparks’ rougher edges, replaced by an elegance and reverence that elevates these very live-sounding, intimate performances and simultaneously reshapes the lyrical context. With Bird’s choir-boy tenor, previously dark lyrics delivered in Brett’s low rumble suddenly take on a new light; no longer earth-bound, they scale swirling heights that give each new life, imbuing them with a new sense of purpose, a beauty within which it is easy to get lost.

Not surprisingly, the majority of the tracks here come from albums released during their respective times in Chicago, with three form the aforementioned In the Air (“So Much Wine”, “The Sad Milkman” and “Don’t Be Scared”), two from their critically adored 1998 breakthrough release Through the Trees (“The Giant of Illinois” and “My Sister’s Tiny Hands”) and one from 1996’s Milk and Scissors (“Drunk By Noon”). Eschewing note-for-note recreations, Bird uses the basic idea of each song as a base upon which to build lovingly altered melodies with subtle changes to chord progressions that enhance the emotional weight of each and adding a lyrical melodicism often lacking in the originals’ utilitarian renderings.

On “So Much Wine” (here re-titled “So Much Wine Merry Christmas”), Bird takes a minor key approach to the original’s major key progression that, when the song opens up, makes the sentiments expressed and tale of Christmas-morning domestic violence all the sadder, perfectly complimented by vocal work from his Hands of Glory backing group featuring Tift Merritt, Alan Hampton (bass), Eric Heywood (pedal steel), and Kevin O’Donnell (drums). His slower take makes an already impossibly sad, reflective song all the more so when given a more balladic treatment that shrugs off the original’s heavy two and four in favor of a subtler, more delicate approach.

“The Sad Milkman”, one of the duo’s better known songs and often covered in concert by Bird, simply doesn’t compare to the original’s devastating beauty. Of the songs here, it is one of the few better suited to Brett’s voice than Andrew’s. By no means bad, it simply feels as though something is missing and overall does not possess quite the same gravity as when conveyed by Sparks. Bird’s almost conversational recitation of the lyrics doesn’t help matters much either, lending an almost off-hand approach to one of the more lyrically compelling songs in the Handsome Family catalog.

Album closer “Far From Any Road (By My Hand)” most resembles Bird’s current live performances with the violin doubling at times as a mandolin before switching back to bowed playing. Rennie’s exceptional, devastating lyrics, the impact of which is sometimes lost due to Brett’s often idiosyncratic delivery, are presented here with a clarity that helps illuminate their poetic quality. Bird’s hauntingly ethereal bowed overtones circle high above the sparse arrangement’s brushed snare, spare guitar and plucked bass, adding to the overall eeriness and beauty conveyed by the song in its basest form.

Above all, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of… serves as a musical love letter to friends and inspirations; exceptional in execution, beautiful in its haunting simplicity. If there is any justice, Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of… will open the door for further exploration by equally sympathetic artists to one of the best contemporary American songbooks out there.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ramones debut FINALLY goes gold, 38 years later


No, that title is not a typo. It’s 100% accurate.

While it may seem well beyond unfathomable, it took nearly 40 years for the seminal debut from The Ramones to achieve “Gold” status with the Recording Industry Association Of America, indicating it has sold in excess of 500,000 copies.

Containing genre-defining tracks like “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Judy Is A Punk” and “Beat On The Brat,” the album was initially released on April 23, 1976, to extremely mixed reviews. However, it quickly became the blueprint for the rising punk sound, and scores of bands continue to copy their style to this day. Yet the album never really sold well, and remains in the eyes of many a “cult classic;” though those who understand music as a whole see it as a truly groundbreaking musical moment.

Though many may be confused as to how such a massively influential record, from a band that was rightfully enshrined in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, can just now be achieving such a status in terms of sales, the reality remains that while their impact is immeasurable, The Ramones were not nearly as commercially successful as many of their peers and followers. In fact, while many of these other bands were living lives of excess, The Ramones were often an opening act at many phases in their career.

Regardless, in their latest sales figures update, the RIAA printed that from the sales ending the week of April 30, 2014, the record finally crossed the threshold, joining the bands’ only other Gold selling album, “Ramones Mania” (which accomplished the feat in just over six years).

Recorded in less than a week on a hilariously small budget (about $6000), many point to the tone of the album as the beginning of the DIY movement in underground music, as there is a raw, almost reckless sound throughout. Yet much like a number of their peers, people fail to see the precision and focus the band has at every moment, which is what makes it jus as powerful and energizing to hear nearly four decades after it first shook the world.

Listen to the full album below, then go buy a few copies!

Death From Above 1979 Announce Reunion Album The Physical World


Death From Above broke up in 2006, after releasing a grand total of one album, 2004′s kinda-classic You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. They’re one for one! They got back together in 2011, and they were playing new songs a year and a half ago, but there was never any serious talk about a new DFA1979 album. Until now. Out of nowhere, the band has just announced that they’ve got a new one called The Physical World coming in September. They recorded it with Oasis producer Dave Sardy, and they’re calling its sound “Springsteen meets Sonic Youth.” But they don’t exactly sound excited about the prospect of this new album.

Talking to NME, singer/drummer Sebastian Grainger gives the distinct impression that the group has been pressured and browbeaten into making the album and that they’re really just making it to get the world off their backs. Here’s what he says: “No matter what Jesse and I do, on whatever scale of success it’s sat on, there’s always some kind of reference to Death From Above. It’s only frustrating because it’s so lazy. So we’re putting out a Death From Above record and if the press is like, ’It’s not what we expected,’ or however they react to it, it’s like, ’Well, you’ve been fucking asking for it’… This record is a key for us. It will permit us to go play the shows we want to play and it gives us the freedom to do what we want.”

So, uh, get excited?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mastodon’s “High Road” Video Tells The Epic Tale of a LARP Nerd Battling for Supremacy

Mastodon have shared their Karate Kid-meets-Napoleon Dynamite-meets “Game of Thrones” video for “High Road”, a single from their forthcoming album Once More ‘Round the Sun. The video was directed by Roboshobo, and stars a host of experienced LARPers (acolytes of Live Action Role Playing, for those not in the know) engaging in mortal combat with toy swords and pool noodles. Meanwhile, a young nerd seeks glory and honor for his family – but does he have enough experience points to vanquish the bullies and earn the respect of the wizards and orcs? Find out below.

Spoon – “Rent I Pay” + They Want My Soul Details

The first studio recording from Spoon’s new They Want My Soul has been revealed, along with the album’s tracklist. As promised, “Rent I Pay” is online today. Stream it below.

tracklist:

01 “Rent I Pay”
02 “Inside Out”
03 “Rainy Taxi”
04 “Do You”
05 “Knock Knock Knock”
06 “Outlier”
07 “They Want My Soul”
08 “I Just Don’t Understand”
09 “Let Me Be Mine”
10 “New York Kiss”

They Want My Soul is out 8/5 on Loma Vista.

UPDATE: The band has shared this additional, promising info via Facebook:

The album was recorded this past winter, mostly at Public HiFi in Austin and Tarbox in Cassadaga, NY. It was the first time we’ve had the chance to work with Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Creaming Jesus) and we’re pretty sure that the levels indicate this to be our loudest record — it’s also Deux Deux’s favorite. What else…Side One begins with the gnarliest Jim Eno drum sound ever recorded and Side Two ends with Rob Pope’s bass amp completely breaking down to fuzz + hiss at the end of a take. The record’s got beats, whispers, chants, guitars, whistles, secret codes, and horror-movie strings. It’s got songs about holy rollers, back masking, real life properties of physics, love during the apocalypse and a brief reappearance of Jonathon Fisk.