Last week, we said goodbye to the last surviving founding member of The Ramones: drummer Tommy Ramone. He was 65 and had been battling cancer. If you know anything about The Ramones, there really is nothing left to say, other than we'll always have the music. RIP Tommy and a safe journey to the worlds beyond. EDITOR'S NOTE: As of press time, it was also announced that legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter passed away at the age of 70. We bid you a kind farewell, sir. Rest in peace.
The Ramones - “Beat on the Brat”
Dream of the stream
It's finally here, y'all. Well, not here exactly, but you can now stream La Roux' new record Trouble in Paradise. Though the record doesn't come out till next week, this'll at least give you an opportunity to decide whether you wanna drop some coin for it. Happy listening! And since we're on the topic of album streamage, why not check out White Fence's The Recently Found Innocent over at NPR. Assuming you can't wait for it to drop on the 22nd.
If there's a fun video out there right now, Jenny Lewis' visual for “Just One of the Guys” takes the cake. The single comes off her latest solo record (The Voyager), which hits stores on July 29. What makes the video so good are probably the dude-bro performances by such notable actresses as Kristen Stewart (Panic Room), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and Brie Larson (Short Term 12 (!)). Donning men's tracksuits and mustaches, it's pretty laughable and great. Have a looksie below.
Jenny Lewis - “Just One of the Guys”
Stuart Murdoch's long-in-the-works film (God Help the Girl) is finally getting its release date. Oh, and the official motion picture soundtrack too. The film hits movie theaters in the US on Sept. 5, and the soundtrack will be available in stores on Sept. 2, which isn't too far off. The Belle and Sebastian singer-songwriter wrote and directed the movie after some hefty crowd-funding and whatnot. Most of us already know that he's a great musician, but what of his prowess as a filmmaker? We'll soon find out. You can listen to a cut from the soundtrack below. PS: The film also stars Emily Browning (of Sucker Punch and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events), who sings the aforementioned track.
What is a world without “Weird Al” Yankovic parodying the obsessions of his modern compatriots. If it wasn't Nirvana, it was Lady Gaga; nothing really seems to be off limits for Mr. Al. Now he's decided to take on Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines” with a song called “Word Crimes,” which aims to teach people how to use proper grammar. The song comes off his latest record (Mandatory Fun), which is out now. But have a listen of the track below. You can also head here to see his parody of Pharrell's “Happy” or here to see his parody of Lorde's “Royals.”
Good news for good news lovers
Since you can't really find music shows on MTV anymore (unless you have weird cable channels that give you MTV 2, 3, 4, 5 …), there's little in the way of seeing interactions between various musicians on cable television. To remedy that, VH1 has come out with a new series (“SoundClash”) that puts various artists on stage together to give it more of a music festival feel. The first episode airs on July 23 and has performances from Fall Out Boy, T.I. and London Grammar. You can head to Stereogum to view those performances now. How's that for a special preview?
I first heard of Vashti Bunyan from interviews with Devendra Banhart, in which he listed her as a major influence. That was during my “freak folk” phase. Singer-songwriter Bunyan released her first album in 1970 and waited 35 years to come out with her second offering. And now, the third album approaches. Titled Heartleap, that will see the light of day in October, but you can take a listen to the record's opening track (“Across the Water”) below. Enjoy!
Talk about coming together: Over 700 independent record labels have gathered to form the “Fair Digital Deals Declaration,” which seeks to make a more cohesive and transparent policy in regards to how they deal with their artists. There are five stipulations, one of which is to support artists who oppose unauthorized uses of their music. Another stipulation is to clearly explain downloading and streaming revenues to musicians. Some labels who are taking part are Domino, Drag City, Sub-Pop, Epitaph and Saddle Creek. Head over to Billboard to read more about that.
'Member how I told yous guys that Jordan Knight (of New Kids on the Block) and Nick Carter (of Backstreet Boys) were becoming a dynamic duo (Nick & Knight)? That's still true. In fact, they've put out their debut single “One More Time.” Their self-titled album doesn't hit stores until Sept. 2, but I'm sure they wanted their single to gain traction, what with it being somewhat of a summer jam and all. Listen to the ditty below.
Nick & Knight - “One More Time”
Attention: The first official Beatle's film in 44 years is about to commence! Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard (you know ... from “Happy Days”) is gonna direct a documentary about the band's touring years from 1960 to 1966. The surviving members and spouses of the late members have all signed off on it, so you know it's going to be fairly legit. The filmmakers are also looking for live footage of The Beatles, so who knows? Your footage could make it into the film. Head to Consequence of Sound to read more 'bout it.
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 …
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.