December 30, 2013
December 23, 2013
Again, I could've easily included about thirty albums on this list, but I wanted to keep it short. If you liked/hated my songs list, you'll probably loathe/love this one too. Thanks for reading!
December 20, 2013
I bumped my typical list from 25 to 40 because there was just so much good music this year that I wanted to include. You can listen to most of the songs here. My favorite albums will follow soon as well as a guest-list from some well respected friends. Thanks for reading!
December 16, 2013
Last week, the elusive Burial dropped Rival Dealer, his brilliant new EP (which is not only the best EP of the year but also possibly his best work to date) via Hyperdub. Today, it's available in physical formats and over the weekend, Burial shared this message:
"I put my heart into the new EP, I hope someone likes it. I wanted the tunes to be anti-bullying tunes that could maybe help someone to believe in themselves, to not be afraid, and to not give up, and to know that someone out there care and is looking out for them. So it's like an angel's spell to protect them against the unkind people, the dark times, and the self-doubts."
Below, stream the phenomenal Rival Dealer via Youtube.
December 12, 2013
Following years of life on the sidelines as Ty Segall's bass player, 2013 proved to be an exceptional breakout year for Mikal Cronin. His stellar sophomore record, MCII, has gained a mass of critical reception and has established him as an excellent songwriter and guitar player on his own terms. The laid back California-cool vibes of Cronin and his merry band of long-haired rockers came across with scorching swells of fuzzed out guitar bliss. Power-pop hooks and garage-punk riffs were married in an all out dazzling fashion as the band blazed through their set all the while looking at total ease. Mikal stayed in firm control of the band, taking the reins and keeping the others from going into overdrive on some extend jams and cemented his ability as not only a solid guitar player, but also a fantastic front-man as well. Shout along choruses filled the room as hair went flying onstage and guitars melted into feedback before bursting into dizzying solos that would make their San Francisco elders proud. It's easy to picture these dudes cruising around town, sunglasses firmly in place, catching rays, and partying on into the sunset while these killer tunes blast through the speakers. And tonight, for just a moment, they were able to carry the crowd out of a fierce New York winter and transplant them directly into the sunlight.
December 9, 2013
December 2, 2013
Mogwai are set to follow their epically titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will this coming January with a new album, Rave Tapes. They've already shared "Remurdered" and now they've released a video for the album's closer, "The Lord is Out of Control".
November 27, 2013
November 21, 2013
After some technical difficulties plagued the early stages of this tour, Kanye finally rolled into Brooklyn for a four night New York city run. Yet even before Mr. West took the stage, New York's own A Tribe Called Quest dazzled the borough for the first of their last two shows ever! Bewitching the audience with their classic rhymes, the trio ignited the crowd with their on point dance moves, verses and killer style. An immediate flashback to the golden age of hip hop, A Tribe were far from the caliber one would expect from an opener and instead acted as if they were headlining the night. And in a small way they did just that. For many raised on hip hop, there is no greater group that A Tribe Called Quest. Their fusion of jazz and alternative hip hop forever left a mark on the community and without a doubt, laid the path for many of today's superstars. The highlight of their opening slot came with the back-to-back-to-back combination of "Scenario" (complete with a cameo from Busta Rhymes!!), "Can I Kick It?" and "Check The Rhyme" which many will argue is the greatest trifecta in their illustrious career. To catch them for one of the last times was truly a privilege.
Not to be outdone, Kanye put on what was perhaps the spectacle of the year. Backed by what can only be compared to the Super Mega Aggro Crag from Nickelodeon's Global Guts, Yeezus himself rose to the occasion to deliver one of the most spellbinding and hypnotizing displays of showmanship one could possibly imagine. Ego aside, there are not many other people on the planet that can deliver on this level. Kanye wants to be the celebrity and stops at nothing to achieve it. After welcoming an ensemble of extras to act as his followers, Ye spit through the majority of his recent Yeezus along with other smash singles "Clique", "Mercy" and "Cold" before annihilating the crowd through the power of his pageant. A mountain beast with glowing eyes, a snow storm, and a real-life Jesus were all no match for the power and magnitude that Kanye was able to display. A career spanning setlist only helped to remind the crowd that there is no other entertainer on the planet, let alone hip hop star, that is able to contain the excitement level and sheer genius capabilities of this man. The forever brilliant "Runaway" saw a much anticipated rant, in which he confirmed his love for Bey's "Single Ladies", his distaste for the fashion industry, and how Drake was the most deserved of this year's VMAs, and he pulled out all of the stops by busting through some of his most cherished hits. "Stronger", "Through the Wire", "Jesus Walks", and "Flashing Lights" saw the audience rise to new levels of admiration, and that was after a terrorizing rendition of "Blood on the Leaves", which he insisted no one even wanted to hear. Show, performance, extravaganza, what ever it is you want to call the Yeezus tour of 2013, one thing is for sure, you're not likely to see something on this level of entertainment and celebration any time soon. There are times when Kanye may be the most hated person on the planet, but his ability to put on a show has never been in question. If anything, this show challenges people to find someone even close to taking his crown.
November 13, 2013
Emerging from the shadows, the shoegaze legends walked onstage to a back drop of swirling colors and dove straight into the classics. "Sometimes" kickstarted the evening on an almost light note, before the band began to build to the insanely high decibels which have made them notorious over the years. While their Roseland set of 2008 was one of the most mesmerizing experiences I've ever witnessed, tonight's show had some small hiccups yest was in no way less fantastic. They whipped through "When You Sleep" at a frightening speed and the mighty "Only Shallow" was too over powering for it's own good. Still, some of the tracks played tonight were the best they've ever sounded and made you understand that as perfect as their records are, this is a band meant for the stage. Their performance is a transfixing phenomenon. While long time fans were treated to an excellent assortment of Loveless tracks and even a few extra surprises like "Honey Power" (!) and "Cigarette in Your Bed", the new tracks from this year's sensational mbv were given new physicality that fit the band's illustrious catalogue like a glove. "To Here Knows When" and "Soon" were treated with ample strobes and surges of kaleidoscopic images that induced sensory overload to the max while "New You" blazzed with stunning precision. The buzz saw guitars of "Only Tomorrow" reached new levels of brilliance as they pierced through the crowd at deafening volumes and the helicopter effects of "Wonder 2" made for a mind altering experience. For a band that delivers such intensity, the members seem to step out of the spotlight and let the music speak for itself. Debbie Googe stood firmly planted (although watching her gauge away at her bass was gripping) and the blissful Bilinda Butcher cooed out her spellbinding vocals while solidifying her stance stage right. As the night progressed, the kinks seemed to be ironed out and the rest of the show was flawless. "Nothing Much to Lose" was dazzling and aggressive and produced one of the most sublime moments of the evening. And then it happened. Kevin took to the mic to say "thank you, this is our last show for a long time" and to anyone that has been a fan of My Bloody Valentine for a period of time, these words can sound terrifying. For years, many accepted the fact that this was a band of the past. One that was locked away and only to be remembered on record. Their reemergence to the scene in 2008 was more than most could've ever hoped for and with the release of their new record this year, it seems almost selfish to ask for anything more from these four pioneers. With nothing left but "You Made Me Realise", the crowd cheered with infinite joy as the most pulverizing and brutal experience in music erupted from the stage. To call it just a song doesn't give it the credit it deserves. This is a true physical experience that takes the song out of just the auditory realm and brings it to the physical one as well. The tremble of the floor and the shaking of your clothes are all a part of the act. Watching the crowd raise their hands to the heavens and let the adventure take over their entire body and mind is unlike anything else you're likely to undergo in a musical setting. As it began to end and the jet engine like rumble slowly descended, it became very apparent that this could be a special moment. The last show on a tour in support of an album that was over twenty years in the making. How long will it be before this happens again? That part isn't as important. What important is that it happened and we were there.
November 7, 2013
Much like A Sunny Day in Glasgow and Asobi Seksu, Montreal's No Joy do an excellent job of marrying the ever so similar styles of dream-pop and shoegaze into a beautiful bliss of twisted guitars and melody. "Starchild is Dead", off their new EP Pastel and Pass Out, leans more on the heavier shoegaze side with ripping guitars, but still sends the listener off to dreamland.
October 30, 2013
Love's Crushing Diamond is the proper debut album from Boston outfit Mutual Benefit and recalls earlier 2000s indie rock. Any of these tracks could easily fit on a high school mix CD buried between Devendra Banhart, Bright Eyes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and any other prominent freak-folk/lo-fi track from the not too distant past. Still, the simple pleasures and delicacy found here are not stale pieces left over from a time most didn't know they missed. If anything, Mutual Benefit seems to have added another chapter. It's more like a new friend that meshes so well with the ones you already have. It's immediately comfortable yet still offers something compelling with each listen.
October 21, 2013
After dropping by Bushwick, Brooklyn for some secretive performances this past weekend as The Reflektors, Arcade Fire continue their mysteriously wonderful marketing campaign with the lyric video for "Afterlife". The track continues with the disco-tinged aspects that we heard on lead single "Reflektor" while still feeling like classic Arcade Fire. The album drops next week. Scream and shout!
October 19, 2013
England's Fuck Buttons dropped by (Le) Poisson Rouge for a one-off performance during New York City's sprawling CMJ music marathon week to deliver an astounding set of their wildly experimental brand of electro-noise. Combining the enthralling elements of high intensity electronica with pulverizing blasts of dense textures washed in droning reverb sounds like a daunting task, but this duo makes it seem so effortless. For a band that makes such brutally loud and heavy music, it's remarkable how well they're able to translate their efforts live and make it appealing towards an audience that might not particularly enjoy music on such an extreme scale. Their recent release Soft Focus is perhaps some of their most accessible music to date, one friend put it as "M83 and Godspeed You! Black Emperor coming together to make a hardcore record" and that isn't too far off the mark. Still, while that might not sound like something enjoyable, there are certain aspects of the music that can be appealing to anyone with a taste for driving beats and pulsating rhythms. Fuck Buttons are far from the EDM scene, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone in the crowd who wasn't getting their groove on to the exceptionally sharp trance inducing tempos unleashed during their live set. It's rather hard to find a band that has the ability to make abrasive music sound so appealing (Deafheaven's recent metal masterpiece Sunbather and My Bloody Valentine are two others that come to mind, but are still so different) and yet Fuck Buttons are seamlessly able to bridge a gap that most others cannot come close to replicating. Hell, even their name is rather intimidating, but once the overall shock of their grating tendencies wears off, you're left with beautifully intricate sonic pleasures that leave one craving more. In-fact, after the house lights and music came on once the show seemed to have come to an end, fans weren't ready for the night to be over so the band came back for one more song. To no surprise, they totally obliterated it and before waving farewell to rapturous applause.
October 16, 2013
The Tension 2013 Tour crashed into Newark's Prudential Center for the second and final New York City area show this week and post-rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor handled the opening duties for the show. With their typical venues being small intimate (and non-corporate sponsored), this was a rather bizarre setting for the band. Hearing their delicate rumbles transform into monstrous storms in such a cavernous space felt extremely out of place. Nevertheless, the group was still in top form. Slowly assembling onstage in near darkness, grainy and out of focus film began to backlight the band as their tracks swelled to epic proportions. While Godspeed and Nine Inch Nails seem like such great tour mates, it was evident that those strictly in attendance for the headliner did not know what to make of them and chatted away through their all to brief set.
As the lights darkened for NIN, all the chatter disappeared. When the curtain fell, the band was revealed in stark cubes of light as Trent led his impressive backing band into a full on rage, starting with the recent "Copy of A" and never turning back. The show catapulted to a start by banging out classics "1,000,000", "Terrible Lie" and "March of the Pigs" to which the audience erupted in chaos. Slowly the lights transformed and the show was taken to a new level. NIN may have been off the map for a few years, but this spectacle was something to behold and as near perfect as a show could be. Everything was on cue and seemed to go off without a hitch. Lights seemed to come from every part of the stage and just when it seemed to be peaking, another set of light encircled the band providing one of the most visually arresting performances I've ever witnessed. The set certainly favored Hesitation Marks, Trent's excellent come back record, but there were plenty of old favorites thrown in the mix as well. The main set ended with "The Hand That Feeds" and "Head Like a Hole" which were met with enormous joy. During the encore, Trent introduced a cover of Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans" to much amazement before closing out the night with a haunting rendition of "Hurt". Listening to an arena of people sing that song isn't something I'll soon forget. These days, playing an arena doesn't come with the same accolades as it did in the past, but Trent and company are here to raise the bar and take people back to a time when big budget rock music was something worth caring about and from which to be inspired. With the brakes slammed on side project How to Destroy Angels, it doesn't seem like NIN will be slipping back into darkness anytime soon, and with a stage show that impressive, perhaps only Radiohead (another band still praised for their 90s glory) can conquer an arena like Trent Reznor.
October 7, 2013
Four Tet and Burial are no strangers to collaboration. On Sunday, Four Tet did an 8 hour takeover of Rinse FM and shared an old unreleased track which you can now check out below. While there's no word on any upcoming releases from dubstep mastermind Burial, Four Tet will release Beautiful Rewind on October 15.
October 3, 2013
"I'm just trying to be cool" sings Thomas Mars on Phoenix's most recent (and highly underrated) record, Bankrupt! and given this path of following other big indie bands (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Atoms for Peace) at Barclays recently, they seem to be doing just that. And they're exceeding thoroughly. After playing rather intimate shows earlier in the year at Music Hall of Williamsburg and the Apollo, Barclays seemed like a giant next step with high anticipation and the band pulled out all the stops. A career set spanning early tracks like "Run Run Run", "Long Distance Call" and "Rally" were much welcomed amongst recent crowd favorites "Lisztomania" and "Lasso", but the medleys of "Too Young" with "Girlfriend" and "Bankrupt" and "Sunset" were impeccable. Even new songs had an extra sparkle to them tonight and with much more depth than on record and while Bankrupt! may not have produced monster hits like their previous record, there are still plenty of infectious grooves and hard hitting melodies. The man behind the drums pounded intense hardcore rhythms that took the heavy synth-pop tunes to a new height. The pure power behind each song made the band sound bigger than ever and confirm their status of arena level rock. As the synths belted out the opening to the band's biggest hit, "1901", a jolt of energy took over the stadium and it wouldn't let up. As the band ripped into "If I Ever Feel Better", the party was rocking enough for Thomas to pop up in the middle of the floor atop a stellar synth for an electric "Funky Square Dance". As the band carried into "Rome" for the encore, Mars took to the crowd and made his way all the way to the back of the arena amidst a reprise of show opener "Entertainment", before crowd surfing back to the stage. For one last wow-factor, the band then invited the crowd to join them onstage to close out the show. "Ok, everyone get on stage" yelled Mars. "Come on! Do it! When are you all gonna get to do this again?" For one night, these dapper Frenchmen brought their brand of splashy new wave anthems to Brooklyn and invited everyone to join the party. Gentlemen, there is no need for you to try. You're already there.
September 28, 2013
In some ways it's a shame that supergroup Atoms for Peace never really had a chance to play intimate venues. After releasing Amok this past winter, their first full-length album as a band, the group are now on their first official tour of the states and they're already at an arena level. Of course when you're the brainchild of Thom Yorke, it doesn't seem all that surprising and when you throw Flea into the mix it, would seem absurd to play anything small. The fact that Atoms for Peace is even a side project is almost laughable. Between the legendary status of these two main figures, it's almost beyond comprehensible to see them side by side. And yet, on Friday evening this amalgamation of talent brought their forces to Brooklyn's Barclays Center where they unleashed furious rhythms and intricate melodies which came across like child's play. Watching these men groove was like watching your most talented friends jam in a basement, the pressure of performing as two of the biggest bands in rock gone, leaving the guys the opportunity to just have fun. Despite only two proper albums, the crew dazzled their way through highly complex and tight knit jams from Yorke's The Eraser as well as the proper album recorded as a full fledged band. Watching it all unfold on stage was like watching magic appear without the smoke and mirrors. Flea buzzed about the stage and Thom let loose a proper boogie that ignited the crowd in an all out eruption of joy. While on record, Amok may seem overloaded and too compact to really take control of the listener, however in a live setting, every minuscule detail bursts with life and energy. The piano textures of "Ingenue" took the song to another level and watching Thom and Flea fall in sync during "Harrowdown Hill" might have been one of the greatest moments I've ever witnessed. At this point in many bands' careers you find them doing performances of their classics in their entirety (for the record I would probably pay my rent to see OK Computer and something close to see Blood Sugar Sex Magik), but Thom Yorke has chosen to gather some of the finest musicians to join him on the road for his alternative/IDM concoctions and turns them into pure brilliance. Seeing Radiohead might be the best live musical experience of the last twenty years and while this is not near that caliber, it's not too far off. With that much talent gather together, Amok seemed a little disappointing, but it turns out it's not a record as much as it's a live experience.
September 19, 2013
"Only fear can make you feel lonely out here" breathed Bradford Cox, effortlessly into a cloud of pillowy guitar as he embarked onto an empty stage at Webster Hall. Slowly he was joined by the rest of the band and together, they carefully constructed a tower of gauzy reverb. Fear has never seemed like something that has held back any member of Deerhunter. Drawing from much of their excellent discography, the group covered everything from billowing ambient drones to shoegaze to obliterating noise jams. "We're here for a few nights, so we thought we'd change it up for each show. Hopefully you came to the one where we play the songs you want to hear" Cox uttered almost mid-way through the evening and considering the ever evolving cast of bandmates, the group still reached back for old classics like "Cryptograms", "Lake Somerset" and "Spring Hall Convert". With guitar lines that slithered like metallic snakes and heavy washes of reverb, the triple guitar onslaught sounded as powerful as ever. While Bradford may be the brains behind the operation (his outfit appeared to be the only stylized look and consisted of a wig, animal print shit and white jeans), Lockett's contributions to the evening, "Desire Lines" and "The Missing", honed in on the dreamier side of things. At this stage of their career, Deerhunter have the ability to play to both long-time fans as well as the recently converted and the extended breakdowns really allowed for the band to explore sonic textures that gave the show incredible depth. The main set concluded with a sparkling performance of "Helicopter" before a hyper-elongated "Nothing Ever Happened". For the encore, the guys stuck to a medley of tracks from Monomania before launching into the song of the same name. As the song built to it's catastrophic climax, a cacophony of feedback and blinding strobes delivered a sensory overload experience that almost raised a candle to My Bloody Valentine's infamous holocaust of noise. For a group that appears reclusive and shy, aside from Bradford I'm not sure any of the other guys so much as looked at the crowd, it's hard to imagine what find of fear would make them feel lonely onstage. Bradford's witty banter is so playful in nature it's almost as if he steps into character for each song, his narrations letting him speak from a plethora of experiences. Whatever the case may be, Deerhunter were as sharp and on-point as ever delivering majestic and brilliant tunes. I'm glad I went on the night they played all the songs I wanted to hear.
September 13, 2013
Emerging electronic-dance-pop duo THABTO (Two Heads Are Better Than One), recently released their debut EP Identity Theft. Displaying some of the most sophisticated and engaging songwriting, Kenneth Frank (vocals) and Matthew Connor (music) are sure to infect your head with their sleek production and flare for pure pop perfection. Check out the EP below and watch the video for the title track above.
September 9, 2013
It'll be interesting to see if 2013 goes down as the year the marketing campaign became as relevant as the album itself. From Vampire Weekend posting ads in the New York Times, to Daft Punk airing commercials during SNL, to Boards of Canada releasing mysterious 12"s, to Kanye West playing videos on buildings around the world, to Arcade Fire posting images on Instagram, the traditional album release has seen a total revamp. After months of teases, Arcade Fire have finally shared the lead single, "Reflektor", from their highly anticipated album of the same name. But instead of just releasing the single, the band released not one, but two videos. Check out one directed by Anton Corbjin above and head here to see the amazing interactive video. Aside from all the crazyness that led us to this point, the song (which was produced by James Murphy and feature vocals from David Bowie!!) is actually really, really good.
September 6, 2013
"Wash away what we create" Dean Spunt shouts on No Age's "Teen Creeps", a stunning (and already classic) track from the duo's first true full-length, Nouns. And with walls of noise crashing like waves over the crowd, that is exactly what the band accomplished. No Age powered through a high energy set and unleashed an absolute audio assault on Brooklyn. Featuring a medley of songs ranging from their early compilation Weirdo Rippers to the recently released An Object, Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall tore through heavy feedback and blistering riffs that rattled Music Hall of Williamsburg. Thunderous drums and shrieking guitars were enough to make anyone's ears bleed. Their unique blend of harsh noise rooted in hardcore punk was captivating. While An Object may fall flat on recording, the songs burst at the seams and soared to new heights in a live setting and added great textures to the setlist. The new songs freed Dean from behind the drum kit and added a great dynamic of dissonant and pulsating drones that allowed the two men to stand side-by-side and really enforce the power of their anthems. Even though the new tunes held their own, it was fan favorites like "Every Artist Needs a Tragedy", "Sleeper Hold" and "Fever Dreaming" that sent the night over the top. "I won't end up, like them at all" Spunt continues and, again, he is correct. While the band might have surprised some with the direction and lack of force behind their latest record, they're still far and away unlike any other duo blending noise and melody. Everyone else can just keep on dreaming.
September 3, 2013
Back in February, Dominick Fernow dropped Through the Window, his latest album under the moniker Prurient. On October 21st, he'll follow that up with Remember Your Black Day, only this time, it will be under the alias Vatican Shadow. While the name may be different, your expectations shouldn't be. Lead single "Enter Paradise" is an aggressive and agitated sound that weaves through an electronic web of abrasive textures. Listen to it over at Pitchfork.
August 30, 2013
There hasn't been such a consistent songwriter in music, let alone rock and roll, over the past few years as San Francisco's Ty Segall. In 2012 alone, the man released three full length records and this year he hasn't showed any signs of slowing down. Forming a new band, Fuzz, and a split record with friend Mikal Cronin was just the tipping point. Last week, Ty released Sleeper, an acoustic album recorded after the loss of his father. Tonight, Ty brought the Sleeper band to Brooklyn where the group played the album in full. Seated(!) and armed with two acoustic guitars, an electric bass, and minimal drums, the group lined-up across the stage remaining relatively calm and low-key, the band had little banter between songs and the only movement came when Ty took over on drums so the drummer could deliver the only electirc solo of the night. Although Sleeper might feature a softer side of Segall, the album is not anything to yawn at. The performance was about as unplugged as Nirvana's infamous MTV recording and there was plenty of head-banging and hair flipping to make everyone aware just how much Ty and company can really rock. While typically known for his abrasive Stooges-esque straight-forward rock and roll, the more mature sounds of Sleeper seemed on par with recent acoustic records from guitar shredders and noise legends J Masics and Thurston Moore and the fact that Ty has released something so advanced at this stage in his career, really highlights his song writing capabilities. Distorted solos were in abundance and even before he laid down some old hits, the crowd was bursting at the seams. "Girlfriend" and "Sad Fuzz" from 2010's Melted lifted the audience to new heights and I've never seen such intensity from an acoustic setting. If anything, the release of Sleeper has shown that while we all knew Ty could really pack a punch with loud fuzzed-out garage punk, there are layers to what he does and this could be just the beginning of what else he has in store.
August 28, 2013
Slowly but surely, Keep Shelly in Athens has been sharing new tracks from their debut full-length album At Home. Today, it's "Flyway". Another dreamy endeavor that showcases the duo's ability to blend chillwave-like synths with more immediate beats before combusting in ambient bliss.
August 20, 2013
Brooklyn's Grooms have traditionally blended no-wave with noise driven rock that recalls heyday era Sonic Youth. Now the group is set to release their third record Infinity Caller on September 3. Recently, they shared "I Think We're Alone Now" (not a Tiffany cover). A track that shows a more matured side of the band while still offering up some excellent bursts of guitar towards the end.
August 16, 2013
British avant post-rock band These New Puritans released the divine Field of Reeds this past June and have now shared a new video for album highlight "Organ Eternal". Directed by Willy Vanderperre, the video encompasses ariel footage of the band, sun sparkling through trees, and a woman running endlessly into the great wide open.
August 12, 2013
Have you heard? Nine Inch Nails are back! Their monstrous tour is already underway (the current incarnation was heavily inspired by Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense) and on September 3, Trent will release Hesitation Marks, the band's first new album since 2008's The Slip. Today, he shared another new track "Copy of A" in the U.K. and it will hit Amazon in the U.S. tomorrow. You can check it out now, thanks to the wonders of the internet.
August 6, 2013
Following the recent single "Recollection", Grecian dream duo Keep Shelly in Athens have offered another sparkling gem, "Oostende", from their forth-coming (and long-awaited) debut At Home. This track follows the same hazey sounds as their previous efforts and ads some shoegaze elements that are reminiscent of some of M83's latest work. At Home is out September 17 and head to GorillavsBear to check out their upcoming tour dates.
July 30, 2013
Brooklyn experimental art-rockers TV On The Radio have been a little off the radar since 2011's Nine Types of Light, but today they return with the fantastic new jam, "Mercy". While the band states that there are no plans for a full-length album any time soon, this new track should hold you over in the meantime. Check it out via Stereogum.
July 27, 2013
Before heading off to headline the Newport Folk Festival and return for dates at Prospect Park and Jones Beach, Beck took to the intimate (Le) Poisson Rouge for an acoustic set of career highlights and rarities. Bursting in with the incendiary "Golden Age" from the brilliant Sea Change, the show definitely kept to the mellow side of Beck's illustrious discography, but there were plenty of surprises along the way. After ushering in the evening with some familiar songs, he announced "I don't normally like to play songs you don't know, but this is the only way to hear them". Last year, Beck released an album called "Song Reader" which was only available in sheet music format, making it only possible to hear if one could learn to play the songs themselves. The songs were apparently influenced by Americana and Beatles melodies and gave a jolt to the softer sounds of the evening. "This is our first acoustic show in seven years" Hansen announced at one point in the evening, but the group showed no signs of rust. The night powered along with classics favorites like "Lost Cause" and "Already Dead" with a cover of the Everly Brothers' "Sleepless Nights". The intimacy also allowed for a lot of banter from Beck as he told the crowd of his early days trying to make it in New York when he was playing street corners on St. Marks and Avenue A was a ghost town. The evening continued on a high with a solo harmonica rendition of "One Foot in the Grave" the bouncing "Gamma Ray" and "Modern Guilt" from his distant, but most recent record. The highlight of the night however came with Odelay's "Sissyneck". Suddenly, the band cut out leaving a simple drum beat that Beck claimed "struck a chord in everyone's DNA". "What could it be?" he asked before the band kicked into the King of Pop's "Billie Jean". Moonwalk and hat flips included, the crowd went wild and the night erupted as Beck claimed "there are squares lighting up on floor". A slight inclusion of T. Rex's "Get it On" sealed the deal before he synced back into "Sissyneck" to close out the main set. The evening concluded with "Loser", the landmark song that put Beck on the map and probably received the most sing-a-long feedback (next to "Billie Jean") of the evening and cemented the evening's stellar performance. In the '90s, Beck was the guy who hit the bong and set the party in motion, but tonight he showcased his mature growth into a beautiful songwriter. The beautiful and sedated Sea Change saw the most recognition of the evening leaving many of the hits for another time. Everything was immediate and on point with absolute attention to detail. It can hard to watch aging rock stars perform their mega-hits twenty years after the fact as they to relive the glory of the past, but Beck is no such case. He declared long ago that he was "a loser baby" but no one wants to kill him yet.
All in Your Mind
Heart Isn't Hard
I Am the Cosmos
One Foot in the Grave
Sissyneck / Bille Jean / Get it On
Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods
July 24, 2013
Grecian duo Keep Shelly in Athens recently shared their latest single "Recollection", which matches Balearic rhythms and synths with the effortless bedroom haze of the Cocteau Twins. Look for their debut full-length At Home, on September 17.
July 20, 2013
It seemed more than fitting that the biggest tour of the summer rolled into New York City on the hottest day of the year (the heat index in Brooklyn was hovering around 106 when I made my way to the Bronx). Shortly after 9:00 PM, the iconic baseball stadium darkened and erupted in cheers as the two legends of summer strolled onto the stage for their recent collaboration, "Holy Grail" off Jay's recent Magna Carta... Holy Grail. The early part of the set consisted of the two pop stars volley hit for hit with some added assistance. Mr. Timberlake sang the vocals on the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" as Hova transitioned into "Izzo". The duo made some well calculated moves on how to make this show as smooth as possible while still making each of them the biggest names in the game. Setting themselves up as equals (a similar method that Jay Z and Kanye West used during the Watch the Throne Tour), there was no opener and this was not a pop vs hip hop show either, but rather a collision of superstars using their talents to cement themselves as entertainment legends. Both are heroes in their own right. Jay Z just scored his thirteenth number one album and while JT is fresh off the release of his first album in seven years, he is proving his showmanship with exquisite production.
Despite Justin's recent reclaim of pop music, The 20/20 Experience is currently the best selling album of the year, the night clearly belonged to the Jigga-man. Playing to his home crowd, Jay knows how to use his many anthems to rock arenas and stadiums and the massive Yankee Stadium wasn't new territory for the king of hip hop. Even with smash hits "Señorita", "Rock Your Body" and "My Love" couldn't keep up with Jay's "Big Pimpin'", "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)", "Heart of the City" and the forever epic "99 Problems" (although Justin acting as the cop was surely a site to see). The middle of the set allowed each artist sometime personal time to highlight their esteemed discographies and where Jay powered through each number, Timberlake's definitely had to carry some extra weight. That isn't to say that his musicianship and talent were laking, his soulful croon and savvy dance moves had people screaming and the hit of the summer "Mirrors" was sensational, but next to Hov it was clear who had the upper hand.
As the show began the final run, Justin appeared in left field to cover "New York, New York" before Jay launched into the mega anthem "Empire State of Mind" which has certainly been played into the ground at this point, but when Alicia Keys made her way out to deliver her infamous chorus, the song reached new levels of supreme. The entire stadium belting along with the city's new anthem was the absolute high light of the night and one of the best moments of the summer.
The use of "Encore" in a Jay Z set will never be wasted at this point in his career. The mark that the night is about to come to a close is never easy, but when the biggest hits start coming, it's hard to be too upset. Not letting Jay outrightly steal the show by brining Alicia Keys for added back-up, Justin pulled out the stops as well by ushering Timbaland onto the stage for his role in "SexyBack". Another moment fans won't soon forget.
Nearly three hours after the show began, the duo closed out the night with their other big collaboration of the year. This time it was "Suit and Tie", the single that blasted Timberlake back into the spotlight before he aided Jay by singing the hook to "Young Forever" as the two ascended up the staircase set center stage. In a day and age where the notion of a what constitutes rock star status, these two are flexing their celebrity muscles with relative ease to show just how much power and control they have over the game. "And we're all just entertainers" the duo borrow from Nirvana on "Holy Grail", but these entertainers are in ballparks all their own.
July 15, 2013
Dinosaur Jr are set to release a custom designed shoe for LA Brand Keep. The limited edition shoe costs $75 and includes a 7" picture disc of J Masics covering the dream-pop classic "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star. Check out the cover over at Pitchfork and head here to order the shoe.
July 10, 2013
Despite just releasing their great sophomore record this past winter, the incendiary Widowspeak will release a six song EP entitled The Swamps, on October 29 via Captured Tracks. "True Believer" is a perfect breezy summer jam that follows the more sepia-toned, twee vibes of Almanac.
July 3, 2013
June 28, 2013
With the first week of Summer under our belts, we also say goodbye to the first half of 2013. I typically save my lists for the end of the year, but I think 2013 has been off to a fantastic start already, so I'm giving you twenty albums I've enjoyed in the first half of the year (Spotify links when possible).
The Besnard Lakes | Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO
James Blake | Overgrown
Boards of Canada | Tomorrow's Harvest
Daft Punk | Random Access Memories
Mikal Cronin | MCII
Deafheaven | Sunbather
Deerhunter | Monomania
The Haxan Cloak | Excavation
Iceage | You're Nothing
Inc | No World
The Knife | Shaking the Habitual
My Bloody Valentine | mbv
Pharmakon | Abandon
Phoenix | Bankrupt!
Savages | Silence Yourself
Sigur Rós | Kveikur
Unknown Mortal Orchestra | II
Vampire Weekend | Modern Vampire of the City
Kanye West | Yeezus
Widowspeak | Almanac
Tell me what I missed in the comments!
June 21, 2013
"These psych/funk/folk/jazz/lounge/boogie tracks from American private press records are idiosyncratic, funky, psychedelic, weird, funny, cool, and crazy.
This stuff is unfiltered by producers and record companies: American artistic ingenuity at its wildest and most fun."
Recently, Sinecure Books published the coffee table book Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 edited by Johan Kugelberg, Paul Major, and Michael P. Daley as well as the accompanying double-album. The 24 songs were carefully selected from the thousands of records featured in the book. The first disc is available for streaming on Spotify, but you can order the whole album here. An excellent compilation of wonderfully strange songs spanning almost forty years of American "homemade recordings".
June 14, 2013
A mid-June evening in New York City doesn't sound like the ideal setting for a show featuring the dark brooding work of Iceage, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Lower, so it seemed rather fitting that unseasonably low temperatures, torrential rain, and driving winds descended upon Brooklyn for the first night of the 2013 Northside Festival.
I missed the opening local bands, but Lower got things off to a raucous start. Shrieking guitars echoed through Music Hall with serious force while the band's militaristic demeanor gave quite an intimidating impression. With matching shaved heads, the Danish punks blasted through their brief catalog at an alarming sound. Drummer Anton Rothstein playing as if he had channeled Thor to crash upon his kit with excessive vigor. The bleak lighting and minimal emotion from the band made it feel as if they were completing a civic duty, acting as ambassadors of their Copenhagen scene and proving their worth on their first American tour.
Between Danish hardcore acts, local Brooklyn mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers brought out their robust shoegaze drone for a visceral performance. With technicolor projects acting as the only source of light, the ear splitting tones and maximum energy have not been neglected by the band, despite their plateauing popularity. If anything, these guys proved that the only ones sleeping are the critics. Smoldering guitar and bass created a deafening haze and the drumming acted more as a metronome as opposed to the relentless rolls provided by Lower. With the hall shrouded in fog, it didn't take long for flying guitars (and amps) to become a part of the stage show and when the flashing strobes kicked in, the evening was taken to another level.
A little after midnight, the lights dimmed until only two sharp lights were illuminating the stage. Iceage ripped through forty minutes of pure adrenaline fueled chaos. Slashing guitars, hammering drums, and stentorian vocals from frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt displayed the band's aggressive attitude with maximum intensity. Highlighting material from this year's wonderful You're Nothing, the band's loose sound has been sharpened into focus without sacrificing any of the raw appeal of New Brigade. Ditching guitar about two songs into the set, Elias marched across the stage tossing the microphone stand and lurching over the crowd with serious passion matching the militia vibes of Lower. This wasn't a show with lots of onstage banter, and when the frontmen did speak it was barely understandable (I think the only words I understood were "Iceage" and "Morals" which wasn't even paired with "this song is called..."). While Iceage appear to be on a mission to spread their ferociousness, their ability to blend hardcore with some kind of accessibility allows the music to really speak for itself.
June 11, 2013
The third and final day of the 2013 Governor's Ball was certainly the highlight of the weekend. After two days of intense mud, Sunday saw the grounds at their best and temperatures soar to make it actually feel like a summer music festival. I give a lot of credit to the crew who were able to save the festival from disaster and make it an enjoyable experience.
June 9, 2013
For it's third installment, NYC's Governor's Ball kicked things up a notch by turning the once single day festival (actually on Governor's Island) into a monster three day festival with all-star headliners. It finally seemed as if New York City would have a proper festival after the disastrous Field Day fiasco of 2003 and All Points West. And then there was a tropical storm.
May 30, 2013
Electro-noise duo Fuck Buttons, are set to release their first album since 2009's awesome Tarot Sport. The new record, Slow Focus, is out in July and today the band shared the first single, a radio edit version of "The Red Wing". Fans need not to worry about the term 'radio edit', this is classic Fuck Buttons!
May 24, 2013
Finally. After a lot of teases, trailers, and mysterious record samples, it is here. "Reach for the Dead" is the latest single from pioneering IDM Scottish duo, Boards of Canada. Tomorrow's Harvest is out June 11 in the U.S. via Warp, but you can watch the video for the first single now!
May 19, 2013
If you live in New York long enough and and are a dedicated enough music fan, you'll have the
opportunity to see some pretty awesome things. For example: Arcade Fire playing in Judson Memorial Church, My Bloody Valentine playing their first US non-festival show in 16 years, Daft Punk join Phoenix for a surprise encore, or Dinosaur Jr bring out their friends to celebrate their landmark You're Living All Over Me. Liars playing in the Met's Temple of Dendur was not the best concert I've ever been to, however the experience was one of the most unique live performances I've ever seen. With the temple behind the crowd, the band infront of the moat, and abstract projections on the stone walls behind, there was never a dull moment. "Welcome to the temple" Angus bellowed before the band dove into a fervent set of dense electronic noise rock. The band played a lot of new material, very much in the vein of last year's underrated and under-appreciated WIXIW, as well as a lot off that album. The sharp, heavy synths were accompanied by booming bass that bounced off the solid stone walls that enclose the room. Behind the band were striking visuals. 3D renders of each band member appeared amongst hieroglyphics, distorted shapes, and a spectrum of free-flowing graphics. The intensity of their past albums might not be as prominent on their new tracks, but in a live setting, everything is as ferocious and powerful as one could hope. Given the unusual setting, the sound traveled exceptionally well and the juxtaposition of ancient Egyptian artifacts and Liars was a pairing most probably never knew they needed to witness, but will never be able to forget.
May 15, 2013
On August 20th, Julianna Barwick will release Nepenthe, the follow-up to her gorgeous sophomore record, The Magic Place. In anticipation, Barwick has shared a trailer for the new record which features a new track, "Forever".
May 4, 2013
Following the release of their recent album Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO, Canada's Besnard Lakes have hit the road to deliver walls of noise on willing crowds across the country. Carefully straddling the line of shoegaze and post-rock with a little bit of spaced-out psych-rock thrown in the mix, the band builds their sound to extreme levels before breaking down into a massive all out guitar assault. Olga Goreas' thudding bass blends perfectly into the group's dynamic and her dueling vocals with Jace Lasek were in perfect form. The gangly front man, dressed in a floral cowboy shirt and oversized glasses, unleashed his killer vocals through a ravaged mop of hair as waves of guitars crashed over the crowd. For better or worse, a lot of the tracks on their records can really get lost in the shuffle giving each album their own distinct feeling and while a lack of catchiness does make it difficult for songs to stand on their own, their live anthemic renditions brought each song to soaring new heights. Standout "Albatross" from 2010's Are the Roaring Night was played with such finesse and feature a My Bloody Valentine style whiteout noise breakdown with obligatory strobe lights. The band seemed particularly on point for the show as they flexed their muscular sound to highlight every groove and ooze out every last detail.
April 24, 2013
April 18, 2013
Silence Yourself, is the hotly anticipated debut album from London post-punkers Savages. After gaining rave reviews from an impressive EP and their wild live setting, "Shut Up" gives high hopes that more great things are indeed coming from this fiery foursome.
April 8, 2013
Brooklyn indie-rockers The National are set to release their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, on May 20th. Today they've shared the first single "Demons" and it seems to continue down the path the National have traveled on all of their releases so far. In other words, it sounds just like the National.
April 3, 2013
April 1, 2013
On August 6th, American shoegazers Medicine will release their first album (with the full original line-up) in 18 years! The album is called To the Happy Few (artwork above) and you can stream the first single "Long as the Sun" below.
March 26, 2013
Emerging to the stage masked in a rippling curtain, Sigur Rós brought a high impact show to their largest headlining performance in New York. Backlit, the band appeared as giants overlooking the monstrous Garden before the curtain fell during a thunderous "Ny Batteri". Abstract impressions with deep vivid colors were projected on a giant screen behind the band with each song getting its own unique display and rows of lights ebbed and flowed with the surge and force from the Icelandic powerhouse. Sigur Rós have often been called "a great band to listen to while taking a nap" each song slowly shifting and building to grand heights, however their earth-shaking live renditions did everything to squash that notion. While the band's latest album Valtari felt stalled and left many thinking that the band was unsure of their next move, a message and announcement of a new album Kveikur promised a more aggressive and heavy sound which is exactly what you get from first single "Brennisteinn". Performing as officially a trio for the first time, the band still sounded sharp and on-point, never missing a moment to make their music feel as epic as ever. Fan favorite "Hoppipolla" received a staggering ovation that brought the arena to it's feet. In the weeks leading up to the show, the band sent emails to their fans about their excitement of playing the famed venue and how their career had been building to this moment. It still is hard to believe that a band whose music you'd easily believe was something actually born out of the elements is capable of playing Madison Square Garden, but each song was a nail in the coffin of doubt as the band proved not only their breath-taking ability to produce these songs live, but they can dazzle and create a spectacle as magical as anyone who has played the world's most famous arena.
March 24, 2013
It's been a long eight years since we've heard new material from French electronic wizards Daft Punk, but that will change on May 21 when the duo will release their new studio album Random Access Memory. That's the album artwork above and below catch another brief teaser of new material.
March 13, 2013
March 8, 2013
To celebrate the release of their latest effort, New Moon, Brooklyn hot rods Parquet Courts and Nude Beach supported the Men through a blistering night of surging rock and roll. A year ago to the date, the Men were unleashing their breakthrough record Open Your Heart at 285 Kent and while that show saw the band shift from the dark tones of Leave Home to a more structured sound, tonight the band continued their evolving dynamic. The past three years have seen 3 releases from these Brooklyn rockers and the progress unveiled is enough to make most bands jealous. In 2011, it would have been seemed as if these dudes could rule the post-hardcore drone scene and now I wouldn't be shocked if I learned that the band just covered some lost Crazy Horse demos. This is a not necessarily a bad thing. Despite the looser arrangements becoming even more exaggerated in a live setting allow feedback to swallow the stage for some dense noise jams, new stunner "Electric" still packs a Husker Du / Dinosaur Jr. punch and makes great company for solid jams "Open Your Heart" and "Turn It Around". These guys can still rock when push comes to shove and the pacing of the show did a great job of reminding you of that. "I Saw Her Face" can feel a little flat on the record, but it exploded on stage evoking Cortez moments and serious guitar sways. The Men aren't known for being a well-oiled machine and their crusty punk aesthetic still shines through on both their lo-fi recordings and fuzzed out performances and perhaps that spills over onto their records. Their almost frightening ability to shift sonic landscapes in only a matter of years could lead to some isolation or shake off some potential success, but the Men don't seem to care. Their 'don't give a fuck' attitude has been a motif from the beginning and even with acoustic guitars thrown to the front of the mix, the attitude remains the same. The band doesn't harmonize, but rather four of them just sing at the same time. It's rough, dirty and in your face. It is grungy-Americana at its best.
February 27, 2013
Before Conor Oberst became an early indie/emo darling of the early 2000s under his Bright Eyes moniker, he was leading Omaha's Desaparecidos. With one album to their credit, 2002's under-appreciated Read Music / Speak Spanish, it never seemed like there would be much attention surrounding any kind of reunion of the group, but the masses spoke and as the band has slowly been making their way across the country, they've found fans eagerly awaiting to shout along to these tracks like they've been doing in their bedrooms for a little over a decade. While this band never really received critical claim, much like early Bright Eyes records, their resurgence has been welcomed with open arms by true devotees. There were even mouths moving along to the group's newer songs. Perhaps because their biggest fans were still in high school and college during the band's prime and not scoring their Pitchfork reviews, the recent reissues can help back-up the notion that the audience for which this music was intended was clearly not the ones behind the keyboards, it would be easy to forget that Conor was relevant before swooning teenage girls with his alt-country heartbreak. Needless to say, those waiting desperately to shout along with Conor at his most punk moments were overjoyed with "Greater Omaha", "Mall of America" and "Man and Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)" as the crowed swayed and swelled with each epic breakdown, each more intense than the one before it. Conor was still in typical fashion, ranting and raving over his wishes to free Bradley Manning, the terrible state of Arizona, and the 1%. Still overtly politically focused, the group is prepared to release a new 7" single next month tackling the issues of the Occupy Movement and Anonymous and proving that even with their age and "never having to work a day in their life" they are still one with the people. While reunions barely raise an eyebrow these days, the fact that this reunion happened is still a bit of a shock. Aside from Oberst, none of the members went on to any notoriety, the lone album never saw a deluxe reissue, and while another early 2000s indie/emo darling is about to embark on a full fledge arena reunion tour with his one album side project, it is hard to argue that this music doesn't seem a little dated. That being said, the band rocked with precision and brought the high intensity that these tunes deserve. Anyone who waited ten years to hear these songs shouldn't be disappointed in this reunion as long as they remember that they are no longer 15 and what might have at one time seemed brilliant and informant, might now be nothing more than a nostalgia trip at least until Bright Eyes tours Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground in its entirety.
February 18, 2013
February 10, 2013
February 5, 2013
Portland (via New Zealand) psych-rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra have released a video for "So Good at Being in Trouble" to coincide with the release of their excellent sophomore record, II, which is out today via Jagjaguar.