Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Story of Her Life: Waxing nostalgic about Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose
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.
Single Before Double
Beck releases new single in anticipation of two albums coming out this year
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 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.
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.
Glitter Dick ISO rock and roll alms
Captain America reports on Glitter Dick’s fundraising efforts for their debut album, Sparkling Richard, in Kick(start) their crotch. Watch music videos from the group after the jump.
Kick(start) Their Crotch
Glitter Dick's Sparkling Richard
Muni Kulasinghe’s howling vocals, his violin skittering across the music like beads of water on a hot skillet. John Sandlin’s ax felling bar after bar of music with ferocious dexterity. Jared Putnam’s slaphappy bass and slyly sweet vocals. Drummer Fernando Garavito’s irresistibly low-down grooves. It’s all here on six covers the group has perfected over the last few years on the bandstand. The many high points include the churchy baroque intro to “House of the Rising Sun,” which then descends into fevered desperation, Sandlin’s solo on “Belleville Rendez-Vous” drunkenly dancing across a fence top, and the deliriously locked-in groove between Putnam and Garavito on “Minnie the Moocher.” “Frère Jacques,” “Straight Up” and “La Mer” round out the collection, each with its own ear-opening moments of inspired lunacy. While paying close attention to every tiny detail—the dabs of echo on “Jacques,” the perfectly timed cat’s yowl on “Belleville”—Le Chat plays with a demonic abandon that makes you suspect they’re having even more fun that we are. (MM) CD release on Saturday, Dec. 5 at El Rey Theater!
Matt Wilson is a beautifully melodic drummer, composer and, truth be told, vaudevillian and activist. With Andrew D’Angelo (alto sax, bass clarinet), Jeff Lederer (tenor and soprano sax, clarinet) and Chris Lightcap (bass), he presents a theatrically charming and challenging collection of nine originals and two covers. They’re all rooted in black American songbooks: spirituals to bebop to R&B to funk to hard bop. There’s free blowing on the title track, poignancy in “Getting Friendly” and funky uplift in War’s anthemic “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”. The beautifully recorded quartet just nails it all, as Wilson can be heard proclaiming at one point.