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Archive for October, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Dead Weather Share “Buzzkill(er)”

The Dead Weather, Jack White’s band with Alison Mosshart of the Kills, have shared a new single, the previously announced “Buzzkill(er)”. You can listen to it below. It’ll be available for purchase on November 4, along with “It’s Just Too Bad”. The band is reportedly working on a new album for release next year.

PJ Harvey Covers Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand”

A new cover of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand” by PJ Harvey appears in an episode of the BBC drama Peaky Blinders. Listen to it below via BBC Radio.

It marks only Harvey’s second new recording since the release of her tremendous 2011 LP, Let England Shake. Last August, she penned a protest single called “Shaker Aamer”, named after a British national who has been imprisoned by the United States in Guantanamo Bay since 2002.

Frequent collaborator and producer Flood enlisted Harvey’s help in an effort to make the BBC program come across less American. “We’re trying to make it feel much more European and British and PJ fits that bill perfectly,” Flood told NME. “I phoned Polly up and she was very interested. We’re trying to deconstruct all of Polly’s material and then weave it through, it’s very cutting-edge and modern.”

Harvey briefly dated Cave in the mid-1990s and they collaborated together on the song “Henry Lee”.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Flaming Lips – With A Little Help From My Fwends (Album Review)

Wayne Coyne’s inimitable brand of unhinged barminess probably makes him the perfect man to cover the Fab Four’s best loved album. The Flaming Lips remain indie music’s premier nutters, who for a steady two decades have been throwing glitter, zorbs, and polyphonic headaches at audiences from arenas in London to shamanic jungle retreats. Their penchant for pomp is undiluted on what is most certainly the most bombastic of any of The Beatles cover albums. Indeed, it is almost the antithesis to the Easy All Stars’ effort, which was a jaunty, percussive effort, riffing on the melancholy of the original, rather than the jubilance.

The approach here is the same as has been the Lips’ stock in trade for yonks: indulging every maximalist impulse until you get an unrelenting caterwaul of beats, sirens and fuzz. It makes for a compelling listen: the blur of relentless noise grounded by pop hooks as old as pop music. Take the lead single, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, which even includes an unlikely guest turn from Miley Cyrus. It’s an arrangement of unyielding silliness and agitation levelled by the ear-worming simplicity of the melody.

The songs here are given such a spritely, anarchic makeover that it’s hard to imagine John Lennon not being a fan, and in that sense, it’s unlikely to offend any die-hard fans of the original. And heck, the supporting cast present almost outnumber the roster on the original’s album art. Cult tweesters Tegan & Sara spruce up “Lovely Rita” without diluting its charm, J Mascis’ squalling guitar is all over the opening track like a rash (though a little bit less irritating and a lot noisier), and Foxygen and Ben Goldwasser of MGMT make a racket on the reprise. One thing is also quite clear: everyone is having a whale of a time.

The pitfalls of the album, however, are the result of the endeavour rather than the finished product. How do you improve an original so loved, and so timeless, without drawing unfavourable comparison? I suppose it’s best to think of a project like this as an experiment, or a fanboyish indulgence. Viewed through such a lens, it’s impossible not to appreciate the sheer audacity and fun of it all. At any rate, “A Day In The Life” – arguably The Beatles’ best song – lacks the emotional force of the original, and “When I’m Sixty-Four” is missing a nonchalant bounce or three.

It’s not a perfect album by any means, but it is a worthy cover of a nigh-on perfect album, capturing the joie de vivre of the original and dousing it in some serious lunacy for good measure. And that’s no mean feat.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cream vocalist, bassist Jack Bruce dies at 71

LONDON – British musician Jack Bruce, best known as the lead vocalist and bass player of the power blues trio Cream, died Saturday at his home, his family and publicist said. He was 71.

Bruce was one of the top musicians of the late 1960s, when Cream played its unique psychedelic blues tunes to packed houses in England and the United States. He was an important member of the British blues movement, which saw bands like the Animals and Rolling Stones first imitate and then expand on the American blues tradition as exemplified by Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and other stalwarts.

Cream — widely cited as the original supergroup — were known for hits such as “I Feel Free” and “Sunshine of Your Love,” which featured Eric Clapton’s innovative guitar riffs, and Bruce’s vocals and roaring bass, backed by Ginger Baker’s explosive drumming.

They played a mix of traditional blues songs, with long, often improvised instrumental breaks, and their own tunes.

Bruce enjoyed a long solo career after Cream’s acrimonious breakup, and in 2005 he reunited with former Cream bandmates for critically acclaimed concerts in London and New York City.

Publicists LD Communications said Saturday Bruce died of liver disease at his home in Suffolk, England. He had received a liver transplant some years ago and continued to suffer a variety of health problems.

A statement released by his family said “the world of music will be a poorer place without him but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”

“It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend,” the statement said.

In its heyday, Cream sold 35 million albums in just over two years and the band was awarded the world’s first ever platinum disc for their double album “Wheels of Fire.” Bruce wrote and sang most of the band’s signature songs.

The band started out playing traditional blues tunes, but quickly added a psychedelic flavor that brought still more popularity at the height of the flower power era.

But they broke up with little warning, in the midst of their commercial success. Clapton wrote in his 2007 autobiography that the band lost its direction musically and that “any sense of unity” had disappeared.

“We were also suffering from an inability to get along,” he said. “We would just run away from one another. We never socialized together and never really shared ideas anymore.”

He also felt they were eclipsed by the arrival on the scene of guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

Bruce went on to record the first of his solo albums, “Songs For a Tailor.” He also fronted many of his own bands.

He was known for mixing rock, jazz and classical formats, and his songs were covered by many artists including Hendrix, David Bowie and Ella Fitzgerald.

Bruce returned to the studio around 2000 to record his solo album “Shadows in the Air,” which hit number five on the British jazz and blues chart.

Bruce was born to musical parents in Glasgow, Scotland on 14 May 1943. His parents travelled extensively in Canada and the U.S., and the young Bruce attended 14 different schools. He finished his formal education at Bellahouston Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, to which he won a scholarship for cello and composition.

He left Scotland at the age of 16 and in 1962 joined his first important band, the influential Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc., in London. The band featured drummer Charlie Watts, who later joined the Rolling Stones.

Bruce was playing and touring with his Big Blues Band until recently. In 2012 he played in Cuba, and performed in London at the famed bar Ronnie Scott’s. His 14th solo album, “Silver Rails,” was released earlier this year.

He is survived by his wife, Margrit, four children and a granddaughter. Funeral arrangements weren’t immediately announced.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spoon announce new US tour dates

Spoon has announced new tour dates in support of its solid eighth studio album, They Want My Soul . Following a brief European stint in November, the Austin-based rockers will return to the States for a string of shows in December.

Additionally, the band has booked an appeareance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Thursday, October 30th at 11 p.m. EST. Check their full schedule below and revisit their video for “Inside Out”.

Spoon 2014-2015 Tour Dates:
10/30 – New York City, NY @ The Daily Show
11/01 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
11/02 – Hamburg, DE @ Uebel & Gefarlich
11/03 – Basel, CH @ Kaserne Reithalle
11/04 – Cologne, DE @ Luxor
11/05 – Ghent, BE @ Vooruit
11/06 – Paris, FR @ Trabendo
11/07 – London, UK @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
12/07 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
12/08 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
12/09 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House
12/10 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
12/12 – San Diego, CA @ San Diego Sports Arena
12/15 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
12/16 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
12/17 – El Paso, TX @ Tricky Falls
12/30 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
12/31 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
02/10 – Brisbane, AU @ Hi-Fi
02/11 – Melbourne, AU @ The Forum
02/14 – Sydney, AU @ Metro Theatre

Scott Walker + Sunn O))): Soused (Album Review)

Scott Walker indicated after his 2012 album, Bish Bosch, that he was ready for a new direction after a trilogy that included Tilt (1995) and The Drift (2006). But after 36 years exploring the furthest margins of mainstream taste, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the 60s pop star who once duetted with Dusty Springfield is now collaborating with Sunn O))), the shroud-wearing Seattle drone metallers celebrated for murky, slow chords played at a punishing volume. Yet Soused is surprisingly melodic, Sunn O))) provide a menacing but rich backdrop to Walker’s distinctive baritone. The sound palette may have changed, but Walker’s lyrics address familiar themes: totalitarian states (a mother hiding her babies from “the goon from the Stasi” in Herod 2014); humankind’s brutality (a crucifixion in Bull); and the movies (the sadomasochistic Brando, with its references to Marlon). And the loneliness of the long-distance pop singer is spelled out on Lullaby, a 1999 Walker song first recorded by Ute Lemper: “The most intimate personal choices and requests central to your personal dignity will be sung.”

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Not One Artist’s Album Has Gone Platinum In 2014

We are now nine and a half months into 2014, and the sales numbers for the music industry are looking particularly grim. While the fourth quarter is typically when the most sales occur, things have never been quite so bad.

In 2014, not a single artist’s album has gone platinum. Not one has managed to cross that million sales mark.

One album has managed to sell over a million copies so far this year, but it’s a soundtrack. The ever-popular Frozen soundtrack may slowly be working its way down the charts, but it is by far the best selling collection this year. Though it doesn’t have any marquee names on it—those that are usually expected to sell the best—the soundtrack has managed to move 3.2 million copies so far, and with winter coming, that number is sure to rise.

By this time last year, five different CDs had hit one million units sold or more, with Justin Timberlake’s comeback LP The 20/20 Experience in front. By the beginning of Q4 in 2013, that album had moved 2.3 million copies, which is still far behind the success of Frozen.

In fact, album sales this year are so bad, you have to look all the way down to number four on the list of best-sellers to even find something that was released in 2014. The number two and three sellers are Beyonce’s surprise self-titled album and newcomer Lorde’s Pure Heroine, respectively. Both of those have moved in the area of 750,000 so far this year. Both albums were released in 2013 and moved the bulk of their numbers then, but have continued to enjoy commercial success.

Number four on the list is country star Eric Church and his album Outsiders, which is only 20-something thousand behind Lorde. Immediately behind him is Coldplay, whose Ghost Stories isn’t trailing by much.

Comparatively, 60 songs have sold one million (or more) copies, something not unusual in a world where loving a single no longer means having to purchase an entire album. While 60 is surely better than…one…when it comes to million-plus sellers, it’s not all good news. Last year, 83 songs went platinum, so digital single sales are sliding as well, but not as quickly.

We are now in Q4, and the time for record sales to spike is upon us. As more and more shoppers look for the perfect gift for loved ones, the record industry is hoping that they turn to albums, as so many have in the past. Sadly, the rest of 2014 doesn’t have many huge chart toppers left. We are not expecting albums from Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars or the handful of others who still have the power to move millions of albums. While anything is possible—especially in a post-Beyonce, drop-an-album-at-anytime kind of world—it is unlikely that anyone is coming to save 2014’s lackluster record sales.

Mark Lanegan Band: Phantom Radio (Album Review)

The Screaming Trees’ former vocalist has by now fairly firmly established himself as a kind of post-grunge/Americana Johnny Cash, with moody songs awash with tales of drug abuse, redemption and dark humour. There’s plenty of that here. “Black is my name,” he says, by way of introduction. However, where 2012’s Blues Funeral allowed a hint of yer actual goth to creep into Lanegan’s American gothic, here he indulges the post-punk and electronics he grew up with. His gravelly voice is accompanied by purring, New Orderish synthesisers; the superb Floor of the Ocean could be the Sisters of Mercy covering Joy Division’s New Dawn Fades. The subject matter (death, sin, the occasional hanging) is hardly any cheerier, but Torn Red Heart might be the most beautiful love song Lanegan has ever recorded. “I am the wolf without a pack,” he growls at one point, but this career highlight shouldn’t leave him short of followers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

“South Park” Releases Lorde Parody Song “Push (Feeling Good on a Wednesday)”, Sung by Sia

Recent episodes of “South Park” have been fixated with Lorde, whom they’ve asserted is not actually a New Zealand teen but a middle-aged man in drag. (Lorde was cool with it, though.) Now, the show has shared the full version of “Push (Feeling Good on a Wednesday)”, the Lorde parody song that appeared on the show. It’s actually sung by—gasp!—Sia. You can listen to it below

Parquet Courts Announce New Album Content Nausea as Parkay Quarts, Share “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”

Earlier this year, Parquet Courts released their great album Sunbathing Animal. Today, they’ve announced that they’re releasing another long-player this year, and it’s coming out under the name Parkay Quarts. It’s called Content Nausea, it’s out November 11 via What’s Your Rupture?, and it features the above track, “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”.

The album was mostly made by Andrew Savage and Austin Brown with help from Jackie-O Motherfucker’s Jef Brown (saxophone) and Eaters’ Bob Jones (fiddle). It was recorded, mixed, and mastered in two weeks on a four-track tape machine. It features a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking”.

The band’s Tally All the Things That You Broke EP from last year was also credited to Parkay Quarts.

Next week, the band will embark on a tour featuring dates billed as Parquet Courts, Parkay Quarts, and PCPC—their supergroup with PC Worship.

Content Nausea:
01 Everyday It Starts
02 Content Nausea
03 Urban Ease
04 Slide Machine
05 Kevlar Walls
06 Pretty Machines
07 Psycho Structures
08 The Map
09 These Boots
10 Insufferable
11 No Concept
12 Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth

Parquet Courts:
10-21 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus *^
10-22 Boston MA – The Sinclair *^
10-24 Providence, RI – The Met *^
10-25 Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle *^
10-26 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade NYC *^
11-06 Washington, DC – DC9 #
11-08 Philadelphia, PA – PhilaMOCA #
11-13 Lille, France – Le Grand Mix #
11-14 Paris, France – La Cigale #
11-15 Nantes, France – Stereolux #
11-17 Toulouse, France – Bikini #
11-19 Oostende, Belgium – De Zwerver *
11-20 Brussels, Belgium – Botanique #
11-21 Utrecht, Holland – Le Guess Who #
11-22 Amsterdam, Holland – The Vrankrijk *
11-23 Utrecht, Holland – Le Guess Who *
11-24 Ramsgate, England – Ramsgate Music Hall *
11-25 London, England – Electroworkz *
11-26 Leeds, England – Wardrobe #
11-27 London, England – The Laundry #
11-29 Koln, Germany – Stadthalle Köln Mülheim #
11-30 Zurich, Switzerland – Rote Frabrik #
12-11 New York, NY – Webster Hall

* as PCPC
^ with Thurston Moore
# as Parkay Quarts

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thurston Moore: The Best Day (Album Review)

Thurston Moore’s last two albums served, as so many solo efforts for rock frontmen do, as outlets for him to explore his quieter side. But aside from a couple of 12-string acoustic drone meditations, The Best Day, his first outing since Sonic Youth went on indefinite hiatus in 2011, finds him playing energized, accessible guitar rock that retains many elements of SY’s inimitable sprawl. His crack backup band—composed of SY drummer Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe on bass, and second guitarist James Sedwards—is too hard-driving to tolerate Moore’s tiresome experimental drone tendencies for very long, so even on the long songs, of which there are, characteristically, several, the proceedings rarely grow ponderous. Even the 11-minute “Forevermore” aims more for “hard-hitting” than “hypnotic”; the guitar licks are meaty, propulsive, never aimless. The title track is particularly punchy, booking along on sharp-edged riffs, with Moore coming out from under his bangs to sing about “the man with the lust for life.” He takes his newfound swagger a little too far on the all-attitude, no-melody “Detonation,” but overall The Best Day is just the right amount of confident.

As is typical with Moore, the vocal melodies on The Best Day are mostly afterthoughts that usually just blithely follow the guitar parts. Fortunately, this weakness is minimized by the fact that most of the riffs, rendered via a pristinely engineered dual-guitar attack, are excellent. Sedwards is a superb sparring partner for Moore, pushing him toward some of his more classic rock-oriented playing in recent memory on “The Best Day” and “Germs Burn.” But Sedwards and Moore have more than one trick up their collective sleeve, as evidenced by the opening tour de force, “Speak to the Wild,” what with its thudding guitar interspersed with synchronized harmonics, and especially the instrumental “Grace Lake,” which runs through an array of riffage, from sun-splashed, quick-note plucking that sounds like it could have been on the Meat Puppets’ second album to heavy power chording. It’s clear from these invigorating workouts that a midlife crisis and the breakup of both his marriage and band did nothing to rob Moore of his way with the fretboard.

Foo Fighters preview two new songs from Sonic Highways — listen

In a new five-minute extended preview for their HBO series Sonic Highways, Foo Fighters have teased two new tracks from their forthcoming album of the same name. The band previously revealed a pair of eight-second snippets (intense eight-second snippets) and an extended clip in the show’s trailer, but the new samples give us the clearest listen yet at some of the lyrics.

The first bit is from “Something From Nothing”, a toned-down jam that seems to cut away right before a big breakout (which we know is coming from that previously released trailer). Here, Dave Grohl sings, “Here lies a city on fire/ Singing along/ The arsonist choir/ And I here I go.” Later we get a taste of the high-powered rocker “Feast and the Famine”, with Grohl screaming out the song’s title after a hearty “Amen!” There are also various instrumentals played under the entire discussion, though it’s impossible to put a name to those tracks.

You can now stream it below.

During the discussion, the band also mentions some of the musicians you can expect to see on the Sonic Highways program and album, including Heart, Dolly Parton, Chuck D, Willie Nelson, Mike D, LL Cool J, Joan Jett, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Gary Clark Jr., and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. You’ll be able to hear how all these artists influenced the record when it drops November 10th from Roswell Records, and see how it all came together when the HBO series premieres on October 17th. (That’s this Friday!!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Melvins: Hold It In (Album Review)

After 30-odd years, dozens of lineup changes and 96 billion releases, the Melvins don’t even seem like a band. It’s like the Melvins are more a lab for trying stuff (any kind of stuff) out, a weirdo alt-metal Xanadu.

So, no surprise that ex-Butthole Surfers Paul Leary and JD Pinkus would find safe haven there. Hold It In has Pinkus’s bass holding down the rhythm section with drummer Dale Crover, while Leary adds wailing sonic texture to King Buzzo’s chug-a-lug riffs. On paper, the team-up promises a kind of abrasive, gross, brown metal mashup, a suspicion seemingly confirmed by jokey song titles like Bride Of Crankenstein and Piss Pisstofferson.

But somehow, it’s their most accessible release in ages. The Melvins hit the riff-heavy heights of their foundational 90s records while freewheeling into plenty of experimentation (like chimes and accordions on The Bunk Up) and straight-up curiosities. And Eyes On You is probably the best surveillance-state banger of the year.

Watch Radiohead’s Philip Selway Play The Tonight Show With The Dap-Kings

Along with the Beatles and Genesis and the Eagles, Radiohead are the rare band where the drummer can make a respectable go of it as a solo singer-songwriter. Radiohead skin-basher Philip Selway just released Weatherhouse, his second album of lovely, softhearted solo songs. And last night, he was the musical guest on The Tonight Show, where he neglected his drum set for a piano. Performing “It Will End In Tears,” Selway had an unlikely backing band: ’60s-soul revivalists the Dap-Kings, better known for backing up Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse. They sounded awesome behind him, especially as the song hit its climax. Watch it below.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Smiths, Lou Reed, Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, N.W.A. Nominated For Rock Hall of Fame Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Bill Withers, more also make the 2015 nominee list

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced nominees for the 2015 induction, including Green Day, Kraftwerk, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails, Lou Reed, The Smiths, and others. (Lou Reed is already a Rock Hall member as part of the Velvet Underground.) Check out the list below.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Nominees:

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Green Day
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
The Marvellettes
Nine Inch Nails
Lou Reed
The Smiths
The Spinners
Stevie Ray Vaughan

In order to be eligible for induction, artists need to have released their first single or album 25 years ago (no later than 1989). Fans can cast their vote over at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website, or via RollingStone or USA Today. The top five artists selected by the public will make up a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied with other votes from an international voting body. Inductees will be announced in December.

Last year, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Kiss, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band were inducted.