EDITOR'S NOTE: Upon composing this week's column, I heard from friends and news sources about the tragedy that struck SXSW on March 13, around 12:30am local time. A driver evading police drove down Red River, a closed street and ran down numerous people, killing 2 and injuring 23. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo stated that the man will be charged with capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault.
'Member Stephin Merritt? Of the Magnetic Fields and other ventures? Yeah, the guy's fairly prolific, considering he's recorded enough material to be someone's deserted island go-to 'til the apocalypse comes. But now Merritt's coming out with a book of poems consisting of two-letter words from the game Scrabble. Mmhmm … you read right. The book will also be illustrated by The New Yorker's Roz Chast. You can read more about it at the New York Times, and you can hear one of my favorite Magnetic Fields tracks below … just for the hell of it.
The Magnetic Fields - “Two Characters in Search of a Country Song”
Speaking of musicians writing books, Keith Richards is writing a children's book. Get the details over at Stereogum.
A couple weeks ago, I posted a new track by Brody Dalle (formerly of The Distillers). And since then, Dalle has shared more details about the upcoming album—like its title and release date: Diploid Love comes out on April 29. And now the raging songstress has come out with a new track (“Don't Mess With Me”). You can hear that below.
Can you imagine The Stooges without Iggy? Well you're gonna have to because they're gearing up to release a new record sans Pop. Supposedly, after releasing last year's Ready to Die, Iggy wanted to take 2014 off; however his bandmates were like “nah.” So they hit the studio to record unreleased tracks from their Raw Power days with guest vocalists like Ariel Pink, Jello Biafra and Teri Gender Bender (of Le Butcherettes), among others. The album (Re-Licked) is still in the works, but guitarist James Williamson says he will release a couple tracks for Record Store Day. So keep your ears open for that. (Or not.)
Speaking of unreleased material, a collaborative track featuring Daft Punk and Jay Z has surfaced. Not sure where the track (“Computerized”) is from, when it was recorded or if it will be released, but music blogs are gonna have something to talk about for a spell. I mean … Daft Punk (along with Pharrell and Stevie Wonder) put on a fantastic performance at the Grammys and Jay-Z … well, he's Jay-Z. You can hear the track below.
Daft Punk feat. Jay Z - “Computerized”
I can't remember how I heard of War on Drugs, but Slave Ambient was a pretty good LP. And I was delighted to hear that Kurt Vile was one of the founding members before going solo 'cause … you know … last year's Wakin on a Pretty Daze was pretty stellar. I digress … now WoD is coming out with a new album (Lost in the Dream), and it's streaming over at Pitchfork. And while we're on the topic of streaming, you should also take a listen to Kevin Drew's new record Darlings. Drew is most known for his work with Broken Social Scene. You can hear Drew’s record over at NPR. Both albums hit stores this coming Tuesday.
I know I've mentioned Johnny Cash's upcoming album of lost recordings a couple times, but now there’s a reason to mention it again. For one, it's a lost Johnny Cash album. That alone bears repeating. Secondly, a new video for the track's single “She Used to Love Me a Lot” has surfaced. The video was directed by John Hillcoat (known for his directorial works Lawless, The Road and The Proposition). You can view that below, and look for the album on March 25. That's right around the corner, y'all!
Johnny Cash - “She Used to Love Me a Lot”
Real audio fanatics can attest that listening to mp3s or CDs can seriously diminish the sound quality of recorded material. But for most people, it's not practical to carry a record player around with them to get that realistic feel of a delectable ditty. That's why Neil Young sought to create a platform for people to hear portable music that still retains that real-sound quality. His platform, called PonoMusic, will let people listen to music digitally, but with the vibe of an original analog recording. And he's shared a video of legendary musicians talking about their experience of trying Pono out. You can watch that at Pono's kickstarter page. And thank Neil Young while you're at it.
As I've said before, I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with electronic music. It either hits or it doesn't, and for me, more often than not—it doesn't. But I did see Miike Snow perform at Antones in Austin for free because a friend who knew one of the members got us on the list. The show was pretty great, and the energy was there. It was just there. And now Snow member Christian Karlsson (also known for being one half of production duo Bloodshy & Avant) is part of a new duo, which also features Linus Eklow from Style of Eye. Together, they are Galantis. Their eponymous EP is set to come out on April 1, but you can get a taste of their sound by listening to “Help” below.
Hey Zeppelin lovers! Mark June 3 on your calendars because on that day, Led Zeppelin will reissue their first three albums (Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III). And those reissues are said to contain unreleased music. It's gonna be a good day. Head over to Consequence of Sound for more info on that.
Why'd you do it, Courtney? Why? Fall Out Boy? Really? You're way better than that. Granted, Courtney Love isn't exactly the most down-to-earth or stable personality, but you can't deny the woman has recorded and written some awesome stuff. Just listen to Live Through This. That entire album is magic. But now a video of Love's collaboration with Fall Out Boy (from their album Save Rock and Roll) has surfaced. The song (for those like myself who didn't waste time or money on the album) is called “Rat a Tat.” And basically the only reason worth watching or listening is Courtney Love. You can view the video below.
Hip-hop trio De La Soul has decided to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut full-length release 3 Feet High and Rising by making their entire music catalog available for free download. How's that for giving it away? And they've also shared a track “Dilla Plugged In,” which was produced by the late J Dilla. The song will be featured on an upcoming mixtape, titled Smell the D.A.I.S.Y. So thank them and get to listening.
I'm gonna do it … I'm just gonna mention it … because I think it'll do me good … it'll do you good … it'll do us both good. Thee Oh Sees have come out with another snippet off their forthcoming record (Drop) in the form of the song “The Lens.” The track, which is a slower number, incorporates strings (which is sort of reminiscent of “So Nice” off their Putrifiers II LP). That's all I'll say. Promise. Oh, you can head over to Pitchfork to give that a listen.
I don't know much about Son Lux. But it's just as well. The reason this particular snippet caught my attention is because the track features Lorde. And just in case you didn't read my “Best Albums of 2013” article, Lorde was on it. I won't repeat myself, but if you haven't listened to Pure Heroine, please do. You won't be disappointed. But now the New Zealand native is featured on a Son Lux remix track, titled “Easy (Switch Screens).” The ditty comes off Son Lux' 4-song EP (Alternate Worlds), which is available online and will be out in physical form on May 27. In the meantime, you can hear the track below.
Son Lux feat. Lorde - “Easy (Switch Screens)”
I shared a track off The Black Lips' upcoming album (Underneath the Rainbow) some time back. Well now the entire album is available for streamage over at Noisey. So go there. Seriously … go there. And while we're on the subject of streaming albums, why don't you also check out Kimono Kult's new EP (Hiding in the Light) over at Consequence of Sound. The band features Omar Rodríguez-López from The Mars Volta and John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers … in case you were wondering.
Arctic Monkeys are another one of those bands that peaked my interest, but only for a short amount of time. I reviewed Humbug for my college paper, and other than that release, there's not a whole lot in the way of fandom for this listener. Friends have been adamantly recommending them over the years, but like I said, I have music-listening ADD and get bored easily. But after hearing frontman Alex Turner's acceptance speech for winning Best Album at this year's BRIT Awards, I decided to take somewhat of a closer look. And that started this week with their video for the track “Arabella,” off their most recent album AM. You can watch that below. By the way, the video is NSFW-ish.
Arctic Monkeys - “Arabella”
I'm trying to think of how I can say this without sounding like I mean it … oh well … I hate Linkin Park. Hate 'em. Now, that's a strong word, but in this instance, there really is no substitute. So why even mention them, you might ask. Well, I do respect Jay-Z's work, and apparently their joint album (2004's Collision Course) is getting a reissue for this year's Record Store Day. The album (which I haven't heard) is said to feature Jay-Z's raps mashed with the band's tunes. Someone somewhere must be celebrating in some fashion. Let 'em carry on.
A lot of people think Dandy Warhols and immediately want to associate them with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, what with Ondi Timoner's Dig documentary. And while it sparks arguments over who is the better band, that's beside the point entirely. Each band has their own particular sound, their own aura, so to speak. Regardless, the Warhols went on tour last year to celebrate the 13th anniversary of 2000's Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia and are now gearing up to release a live album from the concerts' proceedings. It hits shelves on March 25, but in the meantime, the band has shared a video of them playing a cut from the record (“Godless”). You can watch that below.
The Dandy Warhols - “Godless”
I can respect Toadies. Granted, I never delved much into their catalog because a lot of their songs sounded somewhat samey to me. But I always appreciated their aesthetic. And a friend's band in high school used to do a lot of Toadies covers that went well for the teen crowds partaking in Friday night jam sessions at a venue in my hometown. But now the Toadies have come out with a new track, a cover of Pylon's “Stop It,” and the band are also “in the midst of finishing a new album.” You can hear the track and read more about their new stuff over at Billboard.
Sadly, I got into Girls after listening to their second release (Father, Son, Holy Ghost), and we all know what happened after that, right? Well, they broke up. And Christopher Owens later released a solo LP (Lysandre), which was as good as we could have expected. Makes sense considering he was Girls' main songwriter. And now Owens has come out with a new solo track “It Comes Back To You,” which is very much in keeping with the soulful, rock-ballad aesthetics that Girls strived for on their second album. Supposedly it comes off of an upcoming LP, but no details on that at the moment. You can hear the track below.
It it common for a band to release an album, and then come out with another one mere months later? Is this not the definition of prolific? Well rock group Guided By Voices must have an insane backlog of material if they're coming out with an entirely new LP (Cool Planet) in a couple months (May 13). I mean they literally just released Motivational Jumpsuit not even a month ago. And to prove that they've got new stuff brewing, they're previewing a track off the forthcoming record (“Bad Love is Easy to Do”), and you can take a listen below.
Lent gets pretty serious. Growing up Catholic in Texas, I remember how during Lent every fast food chain would have fish-sandwich specials. There was also a local chain called Boat-n-Net (where you'd order food through a PVC pipe and get a 6-piece fish meal for about $4). And every Friday, this place was packed to the point where you'd easily wait about 45 minutes for your order to be ready. Yeah … Catholics, Lent and fish Fridays pretty much sum up the level of commitment. Well … that and giving up something you love for 40 days and 40 nights.
But perhaps you're tired of having to go to chains and wait in long lines. Perhaps you want to eat a home-cooked fish fry dinner. St. John's United Methodist Church (2626 Arizona NE) has you covered. Every Friday (starting tomorrow) they will have baked or fried fish dinners, as well as fried chicken tenders (for those who don't consider poultry meat). The meals will come with a choice of three sides, a beverage and dessert. All the bases are covered! The dinners go from 4pm to 7pm every Friday during Lent and cost $10 for adults, $5 for kids. St. John’s United Methodist Church • Fri Mar 7 • 4-7pm • $5-$10 • View on Alibi calendar
Call me superficial. Call me impulsive. Call me weird. But the only reason I even watched the video for EMA's track “So Blonde” was because the default photo showed her wearing a Jim Morrison t-shirt. In case we haven't met, I have a tattoo of Morrison on my left arm. So yeah, let's just say I admire the “American poet.” But I am glad I clicked the link because the track contains some alt.rock, grunge tendencies that remind me of later Hole (around the Celebrity Skin era). You can watch that below.
EMA - “So Blonde”
While I'm not a crazy fanatic of Wes Anderson's films, I've always appreciated his aesthetic, his color, his attention to detail and his creativity in general. But as well as having an incredible eye for visuals, he's got a sharp ear for sound. You can tell by listening to the The Royal Tenenbaums' tunes, which include Paul Simon, Nico, The Ramones, etc. And now, thanks to the folks over at Pitchfork, you can hear the full soundtrack of his upcoming film The Grand Budapest Hotel. But keep in mind that it'll only be available for streaming till March 2 … right in time for the Oscars. What what!
Bring on the abuse! The Faint are back. I remember being introduced to them by pre-hipster kids that my friends used to know in high school, and their tunes could always be heard blasting from speakers at house parties where 16-year-old girls with eating disorders passed out on couches, and people would sneakily retreat to bathrooms for bumps on the toilet. The Faint always seemed like an appropriate soundtrack, and their new track (off their upcoming record Doom Abuse) seems to have the same sentiment. I foresee it being played at similar festivities upon its release. You can watch the video below, and look for their album on April 8.
The Faint - “Help in the Head”
A couple weeks back, I posted rock band The Men's track “Different Days” and noted its boisterous beat and wild direction. And now you can hear their entire forthcoming album Tomorrow's Hits over at the New York Times website. Enjoy …
'Member when Coldplay used to be good? You know … around A Rush of Blood to the Head? 'Member how their lyrics and melodies would strike at the heart and making your blood boil with confusion, sadness and reflection? Well, after that Viva La Vida bullshit, that sort of went out the window, and it seems as if they've gotten worse and worse with age. But maybe there's hope? Maybe their new, contemplative track “Midnight” might stir some emotion? See for yourself …
Coldplay - “Midnight”
It looks like iTunes is the place to listen to albums ahead of their release dates (or surprise albums in Kid Cudi's case). The Kid released his record (Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon) this past week on the music-buying and listening platform. So go get it! On another note, last week I mentioned that Pharrell was coming out with a new album (titled G I R L), and folks, you're in luck because Pharrell has decided to stream the album in its entirety via iTunes Radio. How's that for digitally representing yourself? And while you're at it, take a listen to Rick Ross' new Mastermind LP. Since you'll already be on iTunes anyway.
Sister trio Haim have been making quite a name for themselves in the pop world. Their track “The Wire” gained them some pretty good traction, considering they'd been teasing their album (Days Are Gone) for a while before it finally came out. And now the sisters have released a video for album track “If I Could Change Your Mind,” and they've added some groovy dance moves to the proceedings. You can watch that below.
Haim - “If I Could Change Your Mind”
I've always liked Mudhoney. I feel like they were the more creative, low-key sibling of more well-known grunge contemporaries. But when you hear their sound, it's anything but low-key. Just listen to their album Superfuzz Bigmuff to get a taste of their crunchy cool. But on to the news, people. Mudhoney and Divine Fits recently recorded live records at Jack White's Third Man Records studio. And both albums hit the music market Tuesday. That's right … this coming Tuesday. So get to buyin'.
Damnit! Every time I hear Screaming Females, I'm admonished for not having purchased one of their albums, so I just need to get with it already and make a buy. In due time, people. In due time. But I've just been reminded of how their particular brand of rock is necessary in my collection after hearing a live recording of their track “Lights Out.” The song comes off their upcoming LP Live at the Hideout, which is out on April 8. Listen ... and let your ears bear witness to greatness.
Nothing says good vibes like songs with the word “happy” in the title, which is evidenced by aforementioned Pharrell Williams' track “Happy.” But Billboard took the initiative to compile a list of 20 chart-topping songs that contain the word “happy.” NOTE: Most of them are gracious golden oldies because, let's face it, them's was the good ol' days. Keep in mind, just because a song has the word “happy” in the title doesn't mean it's going to put a smile on your face. But as an added treat, I've included one of my favorites (which is also on the list). Enjoy …
When it comes to gun violence, people usually try to pinpoint the root cause. Is it mental illness? Is it easy access to firearms? Many people are left wanting answers after any sort of particular tragedy. But when it's a situation involving guns and ammo, people wonder who's to blame. And these are just some of the ideas that will be touched upon in Jeffrey W. Swanson's lecture “The Truth About Gun Violence and Mental Illness.”
Swanson, who is currently a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, will give this lecture twice: once at the Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education (1001 Stanford NE) tomorrow, and also in Santa Fe at the Center for Contemporary Arts Cinematheque (1050 Old Pecos Trail) on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The lecture starts at 6pm on both days and is free and open to the public. However, due to limited seating, registration is recommended. In this informative talk, folks will gain better insight into ongoing trends and research, which will give a better understanding over whether incidents involving gun violence can be predicted or prevented. UNM HSC Domenici Auditorium • Tue Feb 25 • 6-7:30pm • FREE • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar
So … Katy Perry has come out with a music video for her track “Dark Horse.” And let me just preface it by saying that this seems like her attempt at channeling Liz Taylor's take on Cleopatra, but like most current notions that attempt to pay homage to classic ideas, it falls flat. Regardless, Perry fans will go nuts over its ridiculousness. But you don't gotta listen to me, you can watch it below and see for yourself.
I'm a thrash novice … maybe a hardcore one, too. Still, I can appreciate a bunch of guys coming together to whale on some instruments, create new tunes and just do what they do the only way they know how … by laying on the heavy. So it's kind of cool that Dave Grohl's joined with some hardcore veterans to create a new group called Teenage Time Killer. The group also includes Corrosion Of Conformity’s Mike Dean and Reed Mullin, former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra and much more. You can read more about it at Stereogum.
In 2009, when I first started learning to play the guitar, an acquaintance (who'd played in several bands and was pretty much a guitar virtuoso) was teaching me some basic chords when we had a conversation about guitarists. Naturally I expressed my love of Jimmy Page and Hendrix, and then he asked, “Have you ever listened to Rodrigo y Gabriela?” I hadn't. And though I only know a handful of their songs, their mastery of this instrument is friggin bonkers. It's so easy to get lost in their music because it's manic, precise and brilliant. And now the duo have shared a track from their forthcoming album 9 Dead Alive (out April 29), and you can hear that below.
If you were born in the late '80s, like I was, then you had the privilege to come of age when '90s alternative was peaking in a great way. Looking back, you can think what you will, but back then Vertical Horizon's “Everything You Want” was one of my favorite songs, and just for nostalgia's sake, I still dip into Third Eye Blind's first record. And when listening to Cheap Girls' latest song, I was overcome with that pop-rock liveliness that was prominent in such bands as Everclear and (sometimes) The Wallflowers. Cheap Girls' tune comes off their forthcoming record Famous Graves (out May 13), and you can hear that over at A.V. Club.
When it comes to record labels, I've always appreciated the work put out by Sub Pop. From obsessing over releases by Nirvana, L7, King Tuff, Cocorosie, Red House Painters, etc., it's always a treat to hear new(er) bands that are signed to the label, groups that record and distribute good tracks for wanting listeners. I digress … rock band Dum Dum Girls (another Sup Pop contemporary) has come out with a video for the song “Too True to Be Good.” And you can view that visual snippet below.
Dum Dum Girls - “Too True to Be Good”
I like Pharrell. I like his radio hits, but hey, what do you think makes people buy albums, eh? So I'm not especially excited, nor am I too keen on ignoring the news that he's coming out with a new record, titled G I R L. The album is also said to feature the single “Happy,” which earned Pharrell an Oscar nomination for being on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. You can head over to Pitchfork to read more about the record, and you can also watch the 24-hour “Happy” video here. How's that for comin' out with a bizzang?
If former Burqueño Willis Earl Beal had founded an actual cult, under the moniker The Church of Nobody … in the New Mexico desert … and recruited Mischa Barton … and soundtracked it with his excellent song “Coming Through,” which features Cat Power … the below video would have been the only remains of said religion. And it's weird shit. The song itself starts a little after the 7-minute mark.
Willis Earl Beal feat. Cat Power - “Coming Through”
I promise—this will be the last time I mention St. Vincent's upcoming self-titled LP, which hits stores and online markets next week. The record is now streaming over at The Guardian, and it's phenomenal. I think I'm gonna buy it.
Bob Casale, one of the founding members of new wave band Devo (known for their famous hit “Whip It”), passed away this week. He was 61 years old. Granted, I wasn't that big of a Devo fan, it's always sad to see a musician called home. RIP Bob. And for old time's sake …
Devo - “Whip It”
I go back and forth about Lana Del Rey. While some of her songs strike a chord, I usually can't get past her bad lyrics: “I'm your national anthem, God you're so handsome.” But I understand why her sound/look appeals to people who are always looking for something vaguely different in the pop world. But now, fans can look forward to her collaboration with Dan Auerbach (of the overrated Black Keys). Supposedly, he's lending a hand on her upcoming album Ultraviolence, and you can read more about that here.