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Archive for July, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spoon – They Want My Soul (Album Review)

With four years removed from all the hype and the “Artist of the Decade” nonsense, can we all say what we’ve really been thinking? Transference wasn’t a very good Spoon album. Sure, it had its moments – the taut sizzler “The Mystery Zone” is surely an all-timer – but the mixing of demos and polished studio cuts, coupled with some material that (whisper it) wasn’t all that great sounded like a band trying desperately hard to cap off an impressive decade by being impressive. Luckily, Britt Daniel’s interim collaboration with Handsome Furs’ Dan Boeckner, Divine Fits, demonstrated that he hadn’t quite run out of ideas, instead adding a crisp eighties-sounding sheen to the muscular grooves of the band he calls home.

Although it’s bolstered by a new member (one-time Divine Fit Alex Fischel on keyboards) and some new blood behind the boards (Joe Chiccarelli and arch maximalist Dave Fridmann), They Want My Soul is a return. Not necessarily a return to form, just a return. The ghost of Spoon, as it were, lingers. The artwork echoes the bleeding hand on the sleeve of 2005’s Gimme Fiction, certain tracks blatantly echo Spoon warhorses like “I Summon You” and “Sister Jack”, and the title track…well, we’ll get to that.

They Want My Soul may be the most varied thing Spoon have ever put out, but there’s nothing tentative about it. The first snare drum thump of “Rent I Pay” alone shows that the Spoon swagger is back, but “Do You” is the sugariest pop confection the band have come up with in quite some time, “doot-doot-doot”s and all. The motorik blues of “Rainy Taxi” and synth pop stormer “New York Kiss” (surely a holdover from the never-recorded second Divine Fits LP?) bring the rockin’ and romance, while “Inside Out” even borders on slow-jam territory.

Even with two producers and a year of on-off crafting – Spoon always were a meticulous bunch – it all still somehow hangs together beautifully, and they attack every style they try with a force they’ve not had in years. And then there’s that pesky title track. For a band usually so buttoned-up, “They Want My Soul” is where they get loose and starry-eyed. “Let’s get the stars to align…” Britt sings over choppy British invasion chords, “Don’t it feel like Friday night?” It’s by far the most immediate piece of music they’ve come out with, Daniel’s love of The Kinks finally sounding like more than mere lip service. And then, while the music stays carefree, the kid gets dark. “Educated folk singers want my soul!” he “Jonathon Fisk still wants my soul!” The list never lets up but, like some kind of weird sick joke, the music stays sunny as Austin, Texas in summertime. Then, as the track jangles to a close, Britt barks the punchline – “WHY?!”

They Want My Soul sounds like the best dive bar you’ve ever been to. It’s got the best jukebox, the coolest clientele, and it’ll fight your corner if another album’s giving you grief. If you want it put more plainly, Spoon are exactly the kind of band who don’t give a fuck if they were the ‘Artist of the Decade’. They just make fantastic, intricate albums that sound like they’re not even trying. Spoon are a band with nothing to prove. They Want My Soul proves everything.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bill Callahan Is the Man in the Moon in His “Javelin Unlanding” Video

Bill Callahan is back with a new music video from his great 2013 LP Dream River. In the frankly incredible video for “Javelin Unlanding” by Hanly Banks and Chris Rusch, Callahan is the moon. In his usual deadpan, he looks down upon creation and rotates in space.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beck – “Heart Is A Drum” Video

Today, Beck releases the guest-heavy recorded version of Song Reader, his sheet-music album. That’s the second LP Beck has followed this year, following the elegantly bummed comeback album Morning Phase. And one of the many beautifully downcast songs on that album, “Heart Is A Drum,” now has a video from music-video hall-of-famer Sophie Muller. In the elegiac black-and-white clip, we see Beck haunted by images of his past, most of which take the form of characters from Beck’s iconic 20-year-old “Loser” video: The skull-faced grim reaper, the two astronauts, Beck’s own breakdancing and thrift-besuited 1994 self. Beck also comes face-to-face with his own childhood self. It’s a movingly, if cryptically, lyrical video, and you can watch it below.

TV On the Radio Announce New Album, Seeds

TV on the Radio have announced their next record, the followup to 2011’s Nine Types of Light. It’s called Seeds, out this fall on Harvest Records. Watch a trailer below, which the band just posted to their website.

This is the band’s first record since the passing of bassist/producer Gerard Smith in April 2011. Last year, singer Tunde Adebimpe confirmed the band had left Interscope (their label since 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain). They also released a pair of tracks in 2013, “Million Miles” and “Mercy”, on band member Dave Sitek’s Federal Prism label.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Preview the new Spoon album

Spoon’s new album, They Want My Soul, is now streaming via iTunes Radio. It’s out August 5, and has been preceded by songs like “Rent I Pay”, “Do You”, and “Inside Out”.

For the first time, the band worked with outside producers on this album: The record was begun by Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, My Morning Jacket) before being finished by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, MGMT, Sparklehorse). It also features contributions from new Spoon member Alex Fischel, who played with Daniel in Divine Fits.


Jenny Lewis: The Voyager (Album Review)

Lurking beneath the seductive, supple gloss of The Voyager lies a serious undercurrent of sorrow — an undercurrent Jenny Lewis doesn’t disguise but doesn’t bring to the surface, either. Someone, somewhere broke her heart, and perhaps the culprit is Lewis herself. Regret and self-recrimination abound on The Voyager: it’s a tattered storybook full of relationships gone to rot, missed marriages, infidelities forgiven but not forgotten, wistful teenage memories fading in the face of adult disappointment. Whether the songs are autobiographical or not — and they’re filled with seemingly personal signifiers, ranging from red hair and scars left from the San Fernando Valley to a philandering, layabout beau named John — doesn’t matter much, as The Voyager aims to strike a universal chord for ladies in their thirties watching the years slide by as they wait for boyfriends to commit or life to start happening. It’s heavy midlife crisis material but The Voyager plays lightly, offering a warm balm of Southern California sounds. Much more than Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley’s 2007 stab at Fleetwood Mac-styled pop, this feels like vintage L.A. studio rock. Working primarily with producer Ryan Adams — Beck comes aboard to give “Just One of the Guys” a narcotic sway, while Jenny collaborates with longtime partner Johnathan Rice on “Head Underwater” and “You Can’t Outrun ‘Em” — Lewis indulges in the sunnier aspects of vintage yacht rock, occasionally dipping into the Laurel Canyon folk-rock she’s specialized in on her own. Guitars roam wide-open spaces, couched in luxurious reverb and draped in strings; the rhythms often follow cool, steady eighth-note pulses; the surfaces always shimmer. It’s such a sultry, soothing sound that it’s easy to ignore the pain that lies beneath but that’s a feature, not a bug: on The Voyager, Lewis’ characters live for today without ever thinking that the world might pass them by, and having her music flow so smooth and easy, she illustrates how easy it is to get sucked into that alluring stasis.

Karen O Goes Underwater in Her “Rapt” Video

On September 9 in the U.S. and September 8 in the UK, Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O will release her full-length solo debut, Crush Songs, via the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas’ label, Cult.

In anticipation of the forthcoming LP, Karen has released her video for album cut “Rapt”. With its vibrant red couture and waterlogged imagery, it readily evokes PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love days.

The video was directed by Karen’s husband Barney Clay and production designed by K.K. Barrett, who worked with Karen on the “psycho-opera” Stop the Virgens and was nominated for an Oscar in Best Production Design for Her.

Check out the video below.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Watch: Sharon Van Etten’s performance on Letterman

Sharon Van Etten’s latest release, Are We There, has been receiving well-deserved praise almost across the board. Last night, it was Letterman bestowing the “wow”s as Van Etten stopped by for a performance of “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”.

Van Etten will continue to support her stellar fourth album on tour straight through till the end of the year. Stops at Belgium’s Pukkelpop and the U.K.’s Green Man Festival are included on the itinerary.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jack White’s Third Man Records Launches Publishing Arm, Third Man Books

Jack White’s Third Man Records has launched a publishing arm, fittingly (if somewhat unimaginatively) titled Third Man Books. Its first release, “Language Lessons: Volume 1,” will be commercially available Aug. 5.

The installment comes in several forms: a 321-page hardbound book featuring contemporary prose by the likes of fiction writer Dale Ray Phillips, National Book Award finalist C.D. Wright and Pulitzer Prize finalist Adrian Matejka, as well as poetry by Frank Stanford, Brian Barker and more. There’s also two vinyl LPs of jazz, psychedelia and blues from artists including finger-picking guitarist William Tyler and scrawling noiseniks Destruction Unit. “Language Lessons” comes with frameable art by Big Boys guitarist Tim Kerr and folk artist Butch Anthony.

“Third Man Books, like ‘Language Lessons,’ will be fearless, imaginative, and eclectic,” reads the site’s press release. “We hope to be a welcome addition to what is already a very compelling and thrilling independent American literary landscape.” The tome is available for pre-sale through the Third Man store.

In the beginning of this year, one of Third Man’s other comparably ambitious releases, “The Rise & Fall of Paramount Artists, Volume One (1917-1932),” was the target of a copyright dispute, which alleged that the label never obtained the necessary license to sell 800 of the package’s tracks. At press time, the case had not yet been settled.

Not one to be deterred by such a setback, in April, White broke the record (so to speak) for making the world’s fastest studio-to-store record, a limited-edition 7-inch of the title track to his most recent solo effort, “Lazaretto.” In June, the LP debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and set a vinyl sales record by moving 138,000 copies the first week of release.


With the immense out-of-nowhere success of Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city, the world is wondering how rap’s new king would follow up the effort. Fear not, for Kendrick doesn’t slack off. In a new interview with Complex, the TDE artist revealed that he has around 30 to 40 songs recorded for his new album. And among them, there’ll be a few joints featuring production from Dr. Dre:

Expectations are high. After good kid, good simply won’t be good enough. Unlike GKMC, which Kendrick planned years in advance, there’s no cover art in mind for the follow-up. As for a title, Kendrick says he’s “flirting with ideas.” He’s been working primarily with TDE’s in-house producers, Tae Beast and Sounwave of Digi+Phonics, but has also gotten in the studio with Dr. Dre. He’s still just “getting his ideas down,” but so far Kendrick’s recorded 30 to 40 new songs for the album (he recorded 60 to 70 songs for GKMC). He says he’ll be ready for a fourth quarter release.

Hooray – we’re so ready!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Over 700 indie labels have joined forces to support a new initiative that would make the process of digital revenue and accounting much more transparent. Among the labels backing the new program are Domino, Sub Pop, Ninja Tune, the Beggars Group, which represents 4AD, Rough Trade, and Matador, and Secretly Canadian. Via Billboard Biz:

Included within the ‘Fair Digital Deals Declaration’ are five key points that signatories agree to abide by. They are:

1. Ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
2. Account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetization of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.
3. Encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetization of music.
4. Support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
5. Support the collective position of the global independent record company sector.

In addition, the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) offered up a ten-point Global Independent Manifesto:

“We oppose further consolidation in the recorded music, publishing and radio sectors since this is bad for independent music companies, their artists and fans,” the ten point pledge additionally states.

“Why wouldn’t we treat artists fairly? It seems so obvious that we shouldn’t have to say it, but let’s say it, loud and proud,” commented Martin Mills, Group Chairman of the Beggars Group, in a statement to launch the declaration.

The campaign launches today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

David Bowie Says New Music Coming “Soon”

Last Saturday, a charity event celebrating David Bowie’s music was held in London. Bowie himself sent a few signed items to be auctioned off, along with a message hinting at the forthcoming release of new music, as Bowie fansite David Bowie News reports (via Gigwise):

This city is even better than the one you were in last year, so remember to dance, dance, dance. And then sit down for a minute, knit something, then get up and run all over the place. Do it. Love on ya. More music soon. David

Bowie’s most recent album, 2013’s The Next Day, came after a decade of inactivity. That means he’s got nine years left to beat his current pace!

Watch the video for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


There’s a fair amount of chills going on here. Via The Guardian:

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s impressionistic take on the character of “Nick Cave” uses elements of documentary and drama to bring us a day in the life of the Bad Seeds frontman. Their film, which won directing and editing awards at the Sundance film festival, features appearances from Kylie Minogue, Ray Winstone and Cave’s bandmate Warren Ellis.

The film will see its UK release on September 19th. Watch below:


Bright Eyes guy Conor Oberst has been cleared of all charges after being accused of rape by Joanie Faircloth in the comments section on xoJane. Read the official statement, including an apology from Faircloth, below via Spin:

North Carolina resident Joan Elizabeth Harris aka Joanie Faircloth has issued a public apology to Conor Oberst recanting her on-line accusations of being sexually assaulted by the musician. After seven months of attempts to reach Ms. Faircloth to request that she rescind the false accusations she made against Mr. Oberst in the comments section of the xoJane website in December 2013, and repeated elsewhere over the following months, Ms. Faircloth contacted Mr. Oberst’s lawyers and today issued a notarized statement. Her statement reads in full:

‘The statements I made and repeated online and elsewhere over the past six months accusing Conor Oberst of raping me are 100% false. I made up those lies about him to get attention while I was going through a difficult period in my life and trying to cope with my son’s illness. I publicly retract my statements about Conor Oberst, and sincerely apologize to him, his family, and his fans for writing such awful things about him. I realize that my actions were wrong and could undermine the claims of actual sexual assault victims and for that I also apologize. I’m truly sorry for all the pain that I caused.’

In February Mr. Oberst filed a libel complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York asserting that the only relationship between the two parties was one of artist and fan; Ms. Faircloth had no physical contact with Mr. Oberst at the Durham, NC show she claimed was the location of the alleged sexual assault.”

Now word yet on whether Oberst will drop the libel suit he has filed against Faircloth.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Tommy Ramone, the last original Ramone, dies aged 62

Tommy Ramone, the last remaining original member of the New York punk band Ramones, has died of cancer at the age of 62 at his home in NYC.

The manager-turned-drummer, and then producer of the band, was a Hungarian immigrant, born Erdélyi Tamás in Budapest, who came to the US in 1957.

Heavily influenced by 60s girl groups and the New York Dolls, Ramones formed in 1974, and were the first band from the underground punk scene in New York to make an album. Ramones, legend has it, was recorded in six days and cost $6,400 to make. It saw the first outing of their signature “1-2-3-4” introduction yelled out at the start of each song.

Tommy Ramone played on the band’s first three albums, co-producing two of them, before leaving in 1978, ostensibly because he was exhausted by the constant touring but later admitting that he had quit in reaction to being “physically threatened by Johnny, treated with contempt by Dee Dee, and all but ignored by Joey”.

He was replaced by Marky, who was fired for alcoholism in 1983, to be replaced by Richie – both men are still alive.

Tommy kept his links with the Ramones, co-producing further albums, before starting an acoustic band called Uncle Monk with his partner Claudia Tienan, playing bluegrass music. It left him “baffled”, he said, that the original Ramones all fell out in later years. “We were like brothers,” he said.