After weeks of teasing and enticing fans, Arcade Fire have now unleashed their first single from their upcoming double LP, Reflektor (out Oct. 29). The title track is given an extended treat as it has gotten not one, but two videos. One is an interactive video where the viewer can take part in the visual experience, while the other is a traditional video (no interaction there) that contains a lot of reflective surfaces. But I'm sure you knew that.
Arcade Fire - “Reflektor”
Did you know that Elvis Costello and The Roots were collaborating? I didn't! Now that I do, this is definitely something worth looking into, and if you head over to NPR, you can hear the fruits of their labor, titled Wise Up Ghost, in its entirety. Or you can wait for it to hit stores on Sept. 17.
Just in case you were feeling that lingering spirit, that beckoning call of All Hallows Eve, that grotesque curiosity of the macabre … Franz Ferdinand's got you covered. Probably NSFW.
Franz Ferdinand - “Evil Eye”
If you live in the Brooklyn area and have a baby that you think might be the next big DJ to hit the airwaves, contact Natalie Elizabeth Weiss. She runs a baby DJ school. No joke.
Judging from Janelle Monáe's performance on David Letterman, if she ever comes to Albuquerque, there's no way in hell I'm missing that show. Monáe's latest effort, The Electric Lady, hit the music-sphere this past week, and you can catch her performance below:
Janelle Monáe performing “Dance Apocalyptic” on David Letterman
It looks like some more Beatles memorabilia can now be added to your collection in the form of their widely lauded performance/interview on BBC. On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 hits web and flea markets alike on Nov. 11 and features 37 performances and unreleased recordings of the band talking to the BBC hosts. Looks like the holidays are gonna be even sweeter.
Sky Ferreira has finally given a release date for her debut full-length effort, titled Night Time, My Time, and it'll hit the streets on Oct. 29. I became obsessed with her single “Lost In My Bedroom.” It's that sort of infectious pop that just grabs hold and can be listened to over and over again. But you don't have to take my word for it. Give it a listen.
Sky Ferreira - “Lost In My Bedroom”
Ty Segall is relentless. If he's not releasing multiple albums in a year or starting various projects with other musicians, he's, well … starting another project called FUZZ. They're coming out with a self-titled album on Oct. 1 via In The Red, and they've released another snippet from said upcoming album. You can hear “What's In My Head” over at Consequence of Sound.
Has it really been 14 years since TLC had a Billboard Top 10 hit? Regardless of longevity, these women (who have been performing as a duo since Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died in 2002) are still working and recording. According to Billboard, we should be seeing some new material from them on Oct. 15. Speculation, people. But listen to their latest chart-topper, as they feature on J. Cole's “Crooked Smile.”
MGMT are some weird dudes. While I was a fan of Oracular Spectacular, 2010's Congratulations just flew by without really sticking, and I don't regret that. But the third time's a charm? They have an upcoming self-titled album coming out on Sept. 17 via Columbia, and the band has shared a short film/trailer featuring some tracks from the soon-to-be-released record.
Sonic Youth-alum Kim Gordon has a new project to add to her wide array of artistic pursuits. Together with Bill Nace, they are Body/Head, and their new album, Coming Apart, gets released next week. But thanks to the folks over at Pitchfork, you can stream the album now.
If you've been following Pixies for the past few months, you may have already known that they're planning on releasing new material slowly but surely over the next year or so. For those who've been waiting, the wait is over. The band has released a 4-song EP, titled EP-1. It's available for purchase digitally and also as a limited edition 10” vinyl, which you can buy on their website. Sadly Kim Deal's not involved in these tracks, but you can hear new song “Indie Cindy” below:
“Indie Cindy” by Pixies
Apparently music blogs were iterating that Fiona Apple had another “meltdown” onstage at an event in Tokyo (remember Roseland?), in which she stormed off stage. But a friend of Apple's, ?uestlove of The Roots, received an email from the singer/songwriter, asking that he publish her statement because, you know, she likes to stay somewhat under the radar and all. But you can read the statement via Okayplayer.
I can admit when I've made a mistake. Or when I've mistakenly avoided a band. Savages is that band, and judging from their new video for the track “I Am Here,” that was definitely my bad. You can also read about the band's re-recording process while making the video via Pitchfork. Now I have to go buy Silence Yourself.
“I Am Here” by Savages
What the hell are Arcade Fire up to? Whatever it is, they're planning something for Sept. 9 at 9pm, and they've released a video trailer for whatever is expected to go down. It could be their title single, “Reflektor,” which supposedly gets out to the public on Monday. Oh, and their follow-up to 2010's The Surburbs hits the streets on Oct. 29. It's called Reflektor, obviously.
Reflektor trailer by Arcade Fire
I don't get Reddit. I'm just not tech-savvy enough to fully comprehend everything that Reddit has to offer, but I am a fan of their “AMA (Ask Me Anything” series where fans can post comments and receive answers to questions they've been dying to ask. And Big Boi is one of the latest artists to take part, wherein he talks about his work with Modest Mouse, sheds light on a possible Outkast reunion and new stuff he's working on.
Loretta Lynn's collaboration with Jack White, 2004's Van Lear Rose, was a masterpiece. I won't go into it again; I already have. But in an interview with Billboard, Lynn expressed her desire to work with White again. Though she's a busy woman; she says she's “got a Christmas album done, a religious album done, a CD of mountain songs with Shawn Camp,” so it'd be safe to assume we're going to be hearing some great stuff from one of country music's most loved and iconic performers. Also, White was recently named an honorary dean of Fermatta Music Academy in Mexico City.
Loretta Lynn and Jack White performing “Portland, Oregon” on David Letterman
If you haven't heard of Fred Stobaugh, it's okay. Even though he's 96, he's relatively new, having only written one song (a poetic ode to his wife of 72 years, who passed away in April). The song, titled “Oh Sweet Lorraine,” was entered in a songwriting contest by Green Shoe Studio, and it made such an impression that musician Jacob Colgan and Green Shoe Studio recorded the track and gave Stobaugh writing credit. And now Fred is the oldest artist to appear on Billboard's Hot 100. Not bad, Fred.
Short doc about Stobaugh and the writing of “Oh Sweet Lorraine”
Neko Case's latest album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, hit the music-sphere this week, and the singer/songwriter did an interview for A.V. Club's “Set List” where she talks about songs on the album, including her single, “Man,” and some of her noted previous work.
“Man” by Neko Case
I have mixed feelings about Coldplay. While I like A Rush of Blood to the Head, I’ve had a stagnant relationship with everything they’ve done after, minus “Speed of Sound.” But now Chris Martin and company have shared a new track, titled “Atlas,” which is going to be featured on the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which hits multiplexes on Nov. 22. Somewhere out there, some teenage girls just cried.
Do you remember where you were when you first heard Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP? I remember trying to be cool with my older brother and his friends, jamming out to it at someone's house … or was that in a dream? Regardless the sequel is headed our way in the form of MMLP2, which comes out Nov. 5. But Eminem (who's blonde again) shared the track, “Berzerk,” which you can hear below:
“Berzerk” by Eminem
You gotta love NPR and their “first listen” antics. Right now, they're streaming The Julie Ruin's Run Fast, which hits stores Sept. 3. Don't think, just hit play.
When I was a kid, I watched Almost Famous, and the song “Sparks” by The Who completely enthralled me to the point where it sort of became my own personal mantra to follow. It’s fantastic. On that note, Universal is going to reissue The Who’s Tommy in a deluxe edition, set to break down walls on Nov. 11.
The Who - “Sparks”
In honor of The Breeders’ Last Splash turning 20, Stereogum writer Tom Breihan did a little write-up about his love/hate relationship with one of the best records of the ’90s.
Spike Jonze and Karen O collaborate again! After Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs handled the soundtrack to Jonze's rendition of Where the Wild Things Are, she has now provided a track, titled “The Moon Song,” for his new film, Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix. You can hear the track below as well as view a trailer for the flick.
“The Moon Song” by Karen O
Apparently, some lost Joy Division and New Order tapes have been recovered and former member of both bands, Peter Hook, is in talks to buy them back. Unheard material? Yes please!
Cursive's The Ugly Organ confirmed two things for me. The first was that a rock band could be self-critical but with a poetic, angry prowess, and that Tim Kasher had one of the most tragically unique voices I've ever heard. But here's Kasher in a more synth-friendly, less angsty light, with his new track, “Truly Freaking Out,” taken from his new solo record, Adult Film, which hits the music-sphere on Oct. 8.
“Truly Freaking Out” by Tim Kasher
Alibi Arts Editor Lisa Barrow has suggested I tune in to watch “Boardwalk Empire.” I still have yet to get see it because I'm always weary when it comes to getting obsessed with a new show. I still haven't gotten into “Breaking Bad,” and that show's already coming to a close. But I digress, the soundtrack for “Boardwalk Empire,” which features Patti Smith (!), St. Vincent, Stephan DeRosa, Elvis Costello and more, drops next week (Sept. 3), but thanks to the folks at Billboard, you can hear it now.
In case you're wondering what Paul McCartney is up to, he's released a new track, titled “New,” from his upcoming album of the same name. The track maintains that whimsical style that made The Beatles so legendary. Look for the new record on Oct. 15.
“New” by Paul McCartney
According to Consequence of Sound, The Dead Weather just got a little deadlier. The band, featuring Jack White on drums, singer Alison Mosshart, guitarist Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence handling bass, released two albums, their last being 2010's Sea of Cowards. But Third Man Records announced, via Twitter, that the band is working on some new material (!).
“Die by the Drop” by The Dead Weather from Sea of Cowards
4AD American pioneers, Throwing Muses, are coming out with an art book/album. According to Pitchfork, the release, titled Purgatory/Paradise, is scheduled for release on Oct. 28, with a full(er) release set for Nov. 11. So, if you're feeling nostalgic, pull out those late-'80s, early-'90s albums, or have a listen to their new track, “sleepwalking 1.”
Throwing Muses’ “sleepwalking 1”
I love A.V. Club. From their “Hatesong” columns to their Undercover music series, they know how to wrangle interesting musicians and make them do interesting things. Like here … we have Kurt Vile covering “Down In It” by Nine Inch Nails.
If you've never listened to “I Luv the Valley, OH!” by Xiu Xiu, where've you been? It's a fantastic song that captures the sadness and anger of misspent youth and the hardships of all-consuming love. At least that's my interpretation. But, Shearwater's covering it for their new LP (of covers) titled Fellow Travelers. The album drops on Nov. 26 via Sub Pop, and will feature covers of songs by St. Vincent, Smog, Coldplay, etc.
In case you're still keeping tabs on Nine Inch Nails (I stopped around The Downward Spiral), Trent Reznor shared a couple new songs from Hesitation Marks (out Sept. 3). One song is titled “Everything,” which is streaming at NPR. Newer track, “Find My Way,” you can hear below via Zane Lowe’s BBC radio show:
Nine Inch Nails - “Find My Way” radio rip
Jack White, Marcus Mumford, Joan Baez and The Avett Brothers are just some of the acts scheduled to perform at the benefit show on Sept. 29 for the Coen brothers' upcoming film, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Inside Llewyn Davis trailer
Remember John Frusciante? The guitarist who left Red Hot Chili Peppers and disappeared to the nether-sphere? Well, he's back. And instead of returning to rock n' roll, he's back with some “Progressive Synth Pop.”
Lady Gaga shared the music video for the track, “Applause,” the first single from her upcoming album, ARTPOP, thus confirming that if you put a woman in skimpy outfits with dramatic lighting, she'll believe she's an artist. Where's the challenge? Oh, and the album hits stores on Nov. 11.
Lady Gaga - “Applause”
Let me just say that I never really got Grimes. I guess her brand of electro-pop just went over my head. But people seem to like her. So much so that it's been confirmed she'll be cohost MTV Style's Red Carpet Report, along with designer Rachel Antonoff.
Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. is coming out with a solo EP, titled AHJ, via Julian Casablancas' Cult Records. The EP is set to hit stores on Oct. 8.
Former Burqueño Willis Earl Beal, whose new record, Nobody knows., comes out on Sept. 10, can also add actor to his résumé. Beal is set to star in a film titled Memphis, which was written and directed by Tim Sutton.
M.I.A. released a new track, titled “Unbreak My Mixtape.” Not quite sure if this song is from her upcoming album, Matangi, which her label states is scheduled for a Nov. 5 release. The song samples Blur's “Tender” and Karen Dalton's “I Love You More Than Words Can Say.”
The Alibi recently reviewed Belle and Sebastian's The Third Eye Centre, a collection of rarities, remixes, etc., and now you can stream it via The Guardian.
In a bold move, Robin Thicke and Pharrell are suing Funkadelic and Marvin Gaye’s estate in an effort to protect the track, “Blurred Lines,” after allegations the song too-closely resembles Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”
Allen Lanier died at the age of 67 due to lung disease complications. Lanier, who died on Aug. 14, was a founding member of Blue Öyster Cult and played keyboards and guitar for the band. RIP Mr. Lanier. You can view a video of the band playing the iHeartRadio Theater in December 2012.
George Strait granted a rare interview with Billboard, wherein he talks about his first band (garage rock!), his career and why he doesn’t like to give interviews.
According to MTV, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have announced that they’re going to perform their single, “Same Love,” an ode to marriage equality, at the 2013 VMAs, which air on Sunday, Aug. 25.
King Tuff finally made a music video for “Sun Medallion,” my favorite track off 2008's Was Dead.
Continuing with a string of 7-inch releases, Kim Deal has come out with a new song, titled “Are You Mine?” But Ms. Deal has gone the extra mile to deliver an official music video for the track as well.
If you were as obsessed with Pitch Perfect as I was (and no, not in an ironic way), then you may be tickled pink to know they're coming out with an a capella Christmas record. Yes siree, the holidays just got aca-serious.
Fiona Apple's made a career out of break-ups, but you gotta admit no one can write a poetic ode to a failed relationship like this woman. Apple is gearing up to go on tour with Blake Mills and shared a video of them two playing a classic Fiona Apple track, “I Know,” from her 1999 album, When The Pawn...
The tracklist for the triple-disc reissue of Nirvana's In Utero can now be scoped by the public. The reissue hits stores and online markets on Sept. 24.
So Franz Ferdinand are still at it? I'm sure excitement is a-brewing for their upcoming release, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, set to hit stores Aug. 27. But you can see their performance of “Love Illumination” via Pitchfork.
L.A. sister trio, Haim, shared the video for their latest single, “The Wire.” If you like rhythmic pop with a stylish kick, this just may be your thing.
I think I was about nine years old. I remember walking into the living room where my sister was sitting in front of the stereo listening to Fiona Apple's Tidal and singing along with the lyrics booklet in her hands. I sat next to her and noticed another CD cover with a naked baby swimming in the water, staring at a dollar bill. I picked it up and asked, “What's this one?” “That's a band called Nirvana. The singer killed himself a couple years ago.” “How?” I asked. “He shot himself.” “Can we listen to it?” “Okay,” she said. She took the CD from my hand, put the disc into the stereo and hit play. Upon hearing the opening riffs of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” I was hooked, and Nevermind became one of the main precursors to my love of grunge (which I don't need to reiterate because I've written about this particular genre more times than I can count).
But the album that cemented my belief in Nirvana was their final album, In Utero. Sure, Nirvana fans would argue that it was their most mainstream and pop-influenced effort, but I think it was also their most nuanced and forward-thinking album as well. Their sound was still rough, but it had gained a diversity that was lacking in previous efforts. You can take tracks like “Very Ape” and “Scentless Apprentice,” which harken back to their more metal moments and know they hadn't lost their touch, but then you could hear songs like “Dumb” and “All Apologies” and know their songwriting had not only expanded, it had blossomed. This is one of the most interesting things about music—as with any artform: People experience it differently. Depending on when you listen to it, what mood you're in, what sounds within a certain layered track are vibrating in your eardrum, you can take a lot from a little—and vice versa.
“All Apologies” by Nirvana for MTV Unplugged
But the reason I decided to revisit this album (which I've been listening to for the past few weeks) is because it doesn't get old. It still sounds fresh, inviting, sinister and heartfelt. It still maintains a specific cadence that only Nirvana could pull off, and 'til this day, many argue that Kurt Cobain was probably the last real “rock star” we had and that we'll probably ever have. Not sure if that's true, and I wouldn't really care to argue the point as it's a trivial thought to ponder, but the music speaks for itself. Timeless? Sure. Tasteful? Maybe not. Rock 'n' roll? Most definitely. And this is probably why it's being reissued 20 years after it first dropped into record stores all over the world, when people pondered the controversy of Cobain bellowing “Rape me.”
The In Utero reissue is scheduled to hit stores and online markets on Sept. 24, and will be available on both CD and LP formats. The “Super Delux Edition” box set will include 70 additional tracks. That's right: 70 “remastered, remixed, rare, unreleased and live recordings.” According to the Universal Music announcement, it will be “a veritable treasure trove of never-before-heard demos, B-sides, compilation tracks,” and will also include a DVD of Nirvana's “Live and Loud” concert that was filmed on Seattle's Pier 48 on Dec. 13, 1993. But don't worry, the concert DVD will also be sold as a stand-alone item; if you don't want to put the bones down for the entire box set, you can buy it all by its lonesome. It's exciting news for this particular music fan. The tracklists for the box set haven't been announced, so scan those headlines, music nerds. You can also view an old television ad the band filmed for the initial release of In Utero below.
Willis Earl Beal, photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images
I heard of Willis Earl Beal late … at least later than all of the indie/hipster music blogs that cause artists to catch on like a quick flame and spread their ashes into the atmosphere before anyone had a chance to know what was coming. It's a very ADD complex with music. Nothing gets a chance to settle, to simmer, to fully sink in … but Beal is separate from all of that. First of all, he doesn't really have an online presence, so the only thing people had to work with was his first album of experimental bedroom recordings, Acousmatic Sorcery. For those who have cable, you might have seen him on “The X Factor.”
But Beal is weird. His interviews boast a vagabond background mixed with rock star arrogance—because he doesn't bullshit. He knows who he is, and he truly doesn't care what anyone thinks, as long as he has room to make music at his own pace. Give the man some room so he can make magic happen. He recently shared a new track from his upcoming record Nobody knows. That song, titled “Too Dry to Cry,” showcases his poignant and forthright lyrics as well as his soulful, ridiculously good vocals. Seriously, this dude has the ferocious authenticity of Robert Johnson with an affinity for slowly slithering into your eardrum like Otis Redding.
Willis Earl Beal - “Too Dry To Cry”
Comparisons aside, the guy is prolific. If you haven't seen his performance on “Later … with Jools Holland,” watch it immediately. If it doesn't bring a minor tear to your eye, there's no humanity left in you; all that's left is a shell, a flicker of what used to be a vibrant example of humanity. Okay, I'm being a little dramatic, but it's that good. If his new track is anything to go by, we can expect some great things from his new record. Nobody knows. hits stores September 10. So keep an eye and ear out.
Willis Earl Beal - “Evening’s Kiss” on “Later ... with Jools Holland”
It's been almost a decade since Loretta Lynn's last record, Van Lear Rose, hit the shelves. A lot has gone down in those nine years. We've seen some of the worst natural disasters in history (BP anyone?), and we've also seen a further-magnified shift from music being played on LP devices to almost exclusively digital formats. Yet that's one of the great things about a record—it has the power to take you back. Back to where? That depends on the person, but the whole premise of a good album rests on the fact it doesn't lose its touch as the casing weathers or when the charts don't signify its importance, as it once did.
So, why is Loretta Lynn's latest record so important? Take for instance the fact that she released the album when she was 72. And, instead of having country music aficionados take the reins in the production booth, she enlisted the help of contemporary garage-rocker Jack White (most famous then for his work in The White Stripes). Seeing these two walk down the red carpet at the Grammys together might seem odd out of context, but having listened to the album, it makes perfect sense. The bond created during the recording of these 13 tracks isn't something that disappears once the lights go out and the track is deemed fit for airplay. Because if you listen to this record, you can hear the molding of this friendship manifest in the way Lynn sings—with the same vibrant twang that made her a household country name—and the way White offers a rock and roll background, letting Loretta shine amidst electric guitars, booming drums and the quieter, softer moments; see “Miss Being Mrs.”
Van Lear Rose is one of those albums that are meant to be played all the way through—no skipping. It tells a story: from the time Lynn was a girl, sitting with her coal miner father, listening to him tell the story of how he met her mother (“Van Lear Rose”) to reflecting on what made her life so joyous, but at the same time wondering where it all leads (“Story of My Life”). Looking back, I'm not surprised it won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album or ended up in the top 10 of so many year-end “best of” lists. It's a gem. Simple as that.
Part of the reason the album hit so hard is that Loretta Lynn is still that hard-talking, freewheeling, lovable woman she started out as—with her classic hit “Coal Miner's Daughter” and other notable songs like “You Ain't Woman Enough” and “Rated 'X.'” Even in her golden years, she is the same person, and she covers the same emotional ground that made her famous in the first place, ie. cheating husbands, childbirth and motherhood and struggling to make ends meet. Just listen to tracks like “Mrs. Leroy Brown” or “Family Tree,” where she takes her kids to the home of the woman their dad is cheating with and asks the husband to come out and see what he's doing to their family. That's real talk.
But it’s an album that couldn't exist without the confluence of measure. What I mean by that is the importance of knowing your limits and knowing when to let someone help out. I’m not saying Lynn has limits; maybe she does, but they're not shown on this record, and she wrote all the songs. But she knows when to let White work in his expertise, particularly on lead single “Portland, Oregon.” A drunken love song in every sense of the word, the lead guitar moves through the track like a forceful river yet calms down enough for the duo to shine—while asking the bartender for one more sloe gin fizz and “a pitcher to go.”
But don't take my word for it. I'm not even that into country music, but I’ve had a soft spot for Loretta Lynn since I watched Coal Miner's Daughter as a toddler. She was just one of those singer/songwriters who always had a presence in my childhood. This is not only one of the best albums of 2004. This is one of the best albums ever recorded, and I’ll stand by that like a man whose britches are in sync with love for all kinds of music. It’s a masterpiece. Enough said.
A group of researchers from Tokyo University of the Arts and RIKEN Brain Science Institute have decided to tackle an interesting subject: Why do we love sad songs? It's a valid question, considering many sad songs have entered the top-40 and kept listeners on their toes while belting out minor chords over hopeless lyrics. Adele's “Someone Like You” is one example that comes to mind. These researchers not only wanted to discuss the various reasons why people listen to sad music but also to see if they could pinpoint certain characteristics within the music that pique certain emotions.
They had 44 volunteers listen to two pieces of sad music and one piece of happy music, and they basically came to the conclusion that sad music actually made people feel more positive about their own lives. They concluded that while the volunteers listened to these despairing, emotionally-driven opuses, they found “sad music to be more tragic, less romantic, and less blithe than they felt themselves while listening to it,” according to an article in Science Daily. So maybe we do listen to sad music to realize how good we have it?
This got me thinking about what sad songs I enjoy listening to, or better yet, got me thinking what my favorite sad song is. As a music journalist, that's a hard question to answer because I like different things at different times. But one sad song that did come to mind was Joanna Newsom's “Go Long,” from her 2010 album Have One On Me. It's one of those songs that if you see her play it live, it utterly kills you. I witnessed the most rough-looking dudes crying like babies when the song was over. I don't cry when I hear it, but I do really enjoy it. It's a beautiful number that dissects the “Bluebeard” story in its most poetic, morbid sense. But now I'm curious … what's a notable sad song for you?
Like most Beck fans, I was turned on to the cryptic chameleon when I first heard Odelay in '96. Though it's probably considered his most mainstream effort, save the post-breakup lament of 2002's Sea Change, it's one of his most dynamic, beat-packed and outlandish releases. Yet, the thing with Beck is that he keeps going, regardless of the direction. Sure, that's a fairly exciting thing when you've been a fan of a musician for so many years; but unless you're in it for the long haul, it can become a little tiring. After contemplating the '60s psych-twinged alt-pop of 2008's Modern Guilt, I worried that Beck was running out of steam, trying desperately to retain some semblance of the alternative cool that propelled him to stardom at the peak of '90s weirdness. But Beck's new single “I Won't Be Long” gives me hope.
Beck - “I Won’t Be Long”
Beck is supposedly releasing two albums this year (one acoustic and one that is described as a “proper follow-up” to Modern Guilt). Though speculation seems to be the way it goes with Beck until a physical album finally manifests in our radio speakers. However the single signals the more well-rounded sound that was present on 2006's The Information, one of Beck's better releases, if I do say so myself. Keeping a steady, atmospheric pace, the production is clean, organized and surprising all at the same time. You can also check out another recent single “Defriended,” below. This one sees Beck riding an elastically equipped beat, churning out rhythmic synth melodies and echo-singing through it all.
Beck - “Defriended”
The thing about Beck—what often gets lost on people—is that you have to embrace his weirdness. You have to take his word for it that with each direction, he's going to guide you somewhere safely, fuck with your head a little bit, but have you back before dark so your parents don't worry. Take for instance his Song Reader album, released last year. The album consists of 20 songs in sheet music form. So if you want to hear it, you have to learn how to play it or find someone who can. Although if you spend a good enough amount of time on the interwebs, you can find live videos of Beck playing the album live for the first time in London on July 4.
If there's one criticism that I've heard about Beck, it's that he's constantly recycling his old tricks, using stark lyrics, slick production and quirky beats to relay the same old messages but in different words and rhythms. But what do you expect? The guy's released 10+ albums in the span of two decades. Does that not grant him a little room on experimenting with his experiments, even if they turn out similar results? Does not one gleam of inspiration immediately relay toward another spark of awakening? I'm getting carried away. All I'm saying is that if this single is anything, it's an indicator that Beck is still creating interesting work, and 2013 may just be the year that he releases another (if not two other) substantial album(s). Play on.
Who the hell is Kathleen Hanna ... other than a feminist punk poet with an affinity for zine writing workmanship? Who is this woman who dwells in the netherworld of alternative culture, plotting and demonstrating? Who is this transformative post-whatever icon who keeps pushing the waistband on the pants of pop-rock aesthetics to fit her angry, rabble-rousing agendas? Well, she's just a writer. At least that's how I've pegged her since I first started listening to Bikini Kill and Le Tigre during my formative years as a gay outcast in high school. Granted, her music scorched the silly side of a grounded movement at times. I never took her stances too seriously—at least not as seriously as those who deem themselves riot grrrls—but I always appreciated her mediums. On hearing that she’s resurrected the Julie Ruin moniker to release new material, I was psyched, and I still am.
Putting the word “The” in front of the name—thus making it The Julie Ruin, y'all—Hanna has resurrected not only a name, but an idea and a good one at that. If you haven't heard her post-Bikini Kill bedroom recordings, you should take a listen. They're not groundbreaking, but they were a solid precursor to the “Deceptacon”-era Hanna who would make her mark on the music industry. Maybe she wasn't a chart-topper, but she maintains a loyal fanbase that is keen on hearing her wild vocals inundate them with a little radical mystique—Feminist Sweepstakes, anyone? I digress … Hanna has announced that The Julie Ruin's debut album, titled Run Fast, is set to hit the streets on the 3rd of September (you know ... the day we’ll always remember). So be on the lookout for that, and while you're waiting for that illustrious morn to approach, you still have the old basement recordings of the original incarnation to tide you over. And if Le Tigre's This Island and The Julie Ruin’s first single, “Oh Come On,” are anything to go by, then you know Hanna delivers the goods when she has the proper studio treatment to rely on. Just sayin'.
Out of my gloom I rise up from my tomb into impending gloom
Original drummer Bill Ward couldn't make it and Tony Iommi's lymphoma diagnosis caused Ozzy to go on an 18 month bender, but all in all "God is Dead?" Black Sabbath's first single from their new album13, seems to cut the mustard. Experts agree that Tony Iommi's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath guitar sound broke barriers of distortion-physics and ultimately gave many stoners reason to live another day. I'm happy to report that Iommi's metal on metal guitar sound—complete with those constant pick squeaks—is present and accounted for. Also, Ozzy can still rhyme. We're good.