With a lurching haunted house beat, the new Swans song “A Little God In My Hands”, it’s hard to tell if you should be scared or dancing. Explosive blasts of noise and horns are layered over the steady pattern, brought to futuristic swamprock heights with a repetitive, muffled chorus of robotic voices and sonic screams of feedback. Their new album To Be Kind comes out on May 13th, with collaboration from St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, among others.
As New York’s psych folk rock act Woods‘ sound constantly evolves, it bears to note that it always evolves for the better. The new single “Leaves Like Glass” from their upcoming album With Light and with Love has a perfect, sunshine-y, jangly spring sound that will be perfectly timed with its April 15th release date. Dylan-esque vocal inflections mix with beautiful organ chords and tambourine to create a perfect pop gem that is at once joyful as well as melancholy and bittersweet; the music builds gracefully before reaching a blissful crescendo.
Where do I begin with this band. I first saw them in 2009 thinking I was going to see some smooth blues guitarist, and instead I saw a cuter, hipper, younger James Brown with a fuzz pedal and a white tank top (who can play some smooth blues for sure, though). First things first, Black Joe Lewis no longer has and the Honeybears in their name. Don’t worry, the Honeybears are still there, and I asked the very talented former Honeybear and baritone sax player Joseph Woullard today about the name edit, and he spoke about how the cohesive sound they had didn’t really require a modifier, stating “We knew what we were getting into, and welcome the discussion. Objectively speaking, the majority of people don’t even know who we are anyway, so we might as well be who we want to be”. I’d say that’s all the discussion needed, and apparently what they want to be is the dirtiest, funkiest garage rock band I’ve ever heard a saxophone even step near. The album kicks off with that wonderful electric guitar sound signifying someone is plugged in, and then “Skulldiggin'” kicks off with a thick fuzz midtempo beat, giving a taste that this album is going to be a little harder and more raw.
The next song “Young Girls” instantly reminded me of “Boogie”, one of my favorite tracks from their album Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is. It’s a fast paced boogie woogie with taunting vocals and lyrics of lust, classic BJL. “Guilty” is a great tune that really lets the horn section shine with great bursts of melody turning into a ominous, growing buildup of sound in the latter portion of the song. These guys can get such raw, pure sounds out of their instruments, they make it sound like brass and distortion were invented to be together. New party anthem “Come To My Party” is also a standout, it’s got a great confident swagger and is full of Black Joe Lewis saying improvised things that don’t always make total sense, but he sounds really cool saying them (one of his strongest talents, in my opinion). “Vampire” takes it down a notch with some dirty, slow southern blues, the horns giving you the feeling of walking late at night in the French Quarter without a friend alive. Wait- I just described a vampire’s night, the song works! I can’t wait to hear “The Hipster” live, it’s one of those fast paced dance numbers that end up turning into mosh pits at the shows sometimes. This album has made me so homesick that I have tabs open with flights to Austin, the album releases tomorrow, check it out if you are a fan of the blues, garage rock, guitar, fuzz, Austin, good times or good showmanship. Black Joe Lewis rules.
Former Denver residents Gauntlet Hair have a new album coming out, and even though they live in Chicago now, people are still crazy about their brand of dark noise pop here. The new album starts with an easily accessible bang with “Human Nature”, a solid dance song with steady industrial beats. The album continues in the same vein with haunting overlapping vocals and discordant tones and notes, giving some songs like “Simple” a great tension and release once you get to the bridge. This album has a heavier influence and sound, at times reminding me of Joy Division and Jesus and Mary Chain, which may be a little off-putting at first to casual listeners of their previous, more pop/dance driven album, but it also sounds more mature and I enjoy seeing growth and progression in a band. Though it is harder to listen too, this often proves more rewarding in the end. With lyrics about falling out of love and the death of emotion towards each other, this music is not meant to be so easy.
Watch the video for “Human Nature”: Gauntlet Hair video
Don’t let the band name deter you, these guys are not 80’s hair metal like I thought the first time I saw their name. They have a big tour schedule, check them out:
07/27/13 Cleveland, OH – Happy Dog
07/28/13 Hamilton, ON – The Casbah Lounge BUY TICKETS
07/30/13 Washington, DC – Black Cat w/ Jackson Scott BUY TICKETS
07/31/13 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s w/ Jackson Scott BUY TICKETS
08/01/13 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge w/ Dinowalrus BUY TICKETS
08/02/13 Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands w/ Jackson Scott & EULA BUY TICKETS
08/03/13 Boston, MA – Church of Boston w/ Jackson Scott BUY TICKETS
08/05/13 Toronto, ON – Drake Hotel BUY TICKETS
08/09/13 Chicago , IL – Empty Bottle BUY TICKETS
09/29/13 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West w/ Surfer Blood BUY TICKETS
09/30/13 Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theater w/ Surfer Blood
10/01/13 Carrboro, NC – Cats Cradle w/ Surfer Blood
10/03/13 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel w/ Surfer Blood
10/04/13 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts w/ Surfer Blood
10/05/13 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ Surfer Blood
10/06/13 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom w/ Surfer Blood
10/07/13 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall w/ Surfer Blood
10/09/13 Toronto, CAN – Lee’s Place w/ Surfer Blood
10/10/13 Columbus, OH – The Basement w/ Surfer Blood
10/11/13 Chicago , IL – Bottom Lounge w/ Surfer Blood
10/12/13 Iowa City, IA – Gabes w/ Surfer Blood
10/13/13 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club w/ Surfer Blood
10/15/13 Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room w/ Surfer Blood
10/16/13 Denver , CO – Larimer Lounge w/ Surfer Blood
10/17/13 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge w/ Surfer Blood
10/18/13 Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar w/ Surfer Blood
10/19/13 San Diego, CA – The Irenic w/ Surfer Blood
10/21/13 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre w/ Surfer Blood
10/22/13 San Francisco, CA – The Independent w/ Surfer Blood
10/24/13 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom w/ Surfer Blood
10/26/13 Dallas, TX – Trees w/ Surfer Blood
10/27/13 Austin, TX – Red 7 w/ Surfer Blood
10/28/13 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s w/ Surfer Blood
10/29/13 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks w/ Surfer Blood
10/30/13 Mobile, AL – Alabama Music Box w/ Surfer Blood
10/31/13 Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder w/ Surfer Blood
As a precious 14 year old wannabe guitar player, “Harmacy” was my beginner’s lessons. Finally, Lou Barlow’s band Sebadoh has a new single “I Will”, released from the upcoming album Defend Yourself, out September 16th on Joyful Noise Records. Their pretty, sludgy garage sound is still here, and sounds fresh in the current musical atmosphere. Listen to the song on soundcloud today by clicking this link, Barlow’s voice sounds just as pretty and yearning as it always has: Sebadoh’s “I Will”
Then see them live at the Larimer Lounge on August 6th!
Want to have a great day? Listen to the new self-titled Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes album today on NPR! I had the pleasure of hearing them play one of the new songs at their Red Rocks show, “Remember to Remember”, an all Jade torch song and it was an instant classic. I’ve been crazy waiting to hear the rest ever since, and my high expectations are completely met. They make such sweet, sweet music, and this album of salvation continues in that vein. It has a fuzzier tone, almost like it’s an old vinyl playing (although that might be the NPR music player). “Let’s Get High” is as celebratory as it gets, while “This Life” (currently listed on NPR as “Life Is Hard”, I imagine that will get fixed) starts sounding like a Jeff Buckley song, then brings a Motown mixed with tent revival sound that these guys do so well. “They Were Wrong” could sit right next to The Beatles “Octopus’s Garden” on an album, no problem. Listen here today: new Edward Sharpe link
Kanye West did everything he could to keep his new album Yeezus from leaking early. MStarz News even wrote an article at just 11am describing the security and stating that it won’t be leaked, whoops:
“Though the record is only four days away from coming out, it shows no signs of leaking. According to Buzzfeed, West and co. have figured out a formula for keeping a hot record under wraps until release day.
West was purposefully discrete when recording Yeezus, opting for small studios in hotel rooms to keep everyone not involved in making the record out of the process. West also avoided storing his work on laptops, instead opting for password-protected external hard drives in locked briefcases.
Songs in production were never sent between West’s camp online. This is a famously insecure way to transfer works-in-progress, as West learned during the making of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Post-production, West kept his album from being mastered until just this week, in order to keep it to himself for as long as possible.
After this process, CDs will be kept in a secure plant and shipped to large chains, where the sealed boxes are under constant video surveillance.”
Nine minutes later it leaked and exploded across the Internet, causing Kanye to quickly put it up on his youtube channel. So who leaked this thing? Someone in the studio where it was mastered, or someone driving the trucks or in the warehouse? I bet they are getting grilled! Guests on the album include Daft Punk, Frank Ocean, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. Absent is the rumored Skrillex, boy oh boy, maybe that song was under super secret security. Oh who am I kidding, I’d probably love that collaboration, he drops “Alexander Wang” in his lyrics, pretty much all it takes for me!
Finishing touches by the great Rick Rubin, who’s net worth I just found out is $400 Million. Mega props for being so successful while staying true to yourself and looking like birds live in your beard.
Listen to Eleanor Friedberger‘s new album streaming free today at NPR. The sister half of artsy weird band Fiery Furnaces brings her distinct vocals and quirks to this new album. This is a smart album with great songs, interested to see her live solo, when I saw a Fiery Furnaces show, her and her brother bickered onstage. She’s pretty darn cool.
Stream the new album here: Eleanor Friedberger on NPR First Listen
I received an advance copy of The National new album Trouble Will Find Me just to have it leak a few hours later to everyone. Gotta move faster! Anyway, my first outing was seeing them at the Fillmore in 2009, having no idea who they were. Place was packed, we were in the balcony, felt a million miles away, and just laid there while their music layered over me. Second outing was when Trey Anastasio played with them, wasn’t too impressed but when are Phish fans ever impressed with side projects.
This album is melancholy and beautiful. “Don’t Swallow the Cap” has a beautiful building melody that crescendos with sadness and keyboards. “Heavenfaced” makes me feel like I just got out of rehab and am hugging my loved ones. “I Need My Girl” is another that reminds me of an old relationship that I was never in. I enjoy the repetition of lyrics that The National incorporates, it hammers the theme in without sounding like a message. This Brooklyn band from 4AD Records seems to be ready for the arena level after this and the success of their last album. The album comes out May 20th, and they have a massive summer tour coming. Jump on board.