Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
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.
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.
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!
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.
Am I the only one who’s surprised Korn is still making music? Probably … because it seems the band is still going strong, having released The Paradigm Shift late last year. My last foray into the world of Korn was Follow The Leader when I was a kid. And that was largely a byproduct of having an older brother. Regardless the band has come out with a video for the track “Spike in My Veins,” from their latest record. You can watch that video below.
Granted my musical repertoire could use some brushing up on the rap front. I guess it's just a genre I spent a vast majority of my life being woefully ignorant of, but hey: There's always room for improvement. Nas was always a name thrown at me growing up, whether it was cousins sharing his new tracks or aficionados urging me to pick up one of his LPs. Now Nas has decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his debut record in a big way: He's releasing a reissue (Illmatic XX) that features remixes, freestyles and demos. And he's also coming out with a documentary about working on the album, “Time Is Illmatic.” You can read more about it and view the tracklist over at Pitchfork.
I posted Jenny Lewis' contribution to the soundtrack for HBO series “Girls” a couple weeks back. Now a new track—that is also on said compilation, titled Girls, Volume 2: All Adventurous Women Do—has surfaced. It's Miguel's song “Simplethings,” which layers lofty fuzz over an otherwise-typical modern R&B beat. Still, it works, and you can hear it below. And as of press time, Lily Allen's contribution to the soundtrack was revealed via Rolling Stone. So head over there to hear her track. The album itself comes out on Feb. 11.
'Member when I mentioned John Dwyer's new project Damaged Bug? Dwyer, singer/guitarist of currently defunct garage contemporaries Thee Oh Sees, is gearing up to release Bug's first record (Hubba Bubba) on Feb. 25. And since that date is fast approaching, he's made a new tune from said album available. This track is titled “Photograph,” and while it has more electronic leanings, it also has got some distorted overtones ringing throughout. Nice job. You can head over to Pitchfork to give that a listen.
Ohhh snap! Folks who are still keeping tabs on Robert Smith and the gang are sure to be excited that The Cure has announced a new album for 2014 (titled 4:14 Scream). Now I've never been much of a Cure fan—which was blasphemy to my “goth” friends in high school—but I can appreciate their appeal. And some tracks have stirred my emotions, here and there (see “Plainsong”). I was always looking for something with more cojones, but you can learn more at the A.V. Club.
I believe that it was Hole that said, “If the world is so wrong, yeah, you can take it all with one song.” I'm not saying that The Men's new track “Different Days” is that song, but it's enough to at least put a smile on your face, make you get your ass off that seat and start jumping around. And isn't that what rock and roll is all about? Minus the sex and drugs … Either way, the track comes off The Men's upcoming album (Tomorrow's Hits), which gets released on March 4, and you can take a listen to it below.
For those who may not be too familiar with them, The Jesus Lizard is a rock band that started out in Texas in the late '80s. And while they haven't released a standard LP since 1998, they've always been a band I've heard about from various, excited friends. But I've said it before: I always hear about things late in the game. Aside from that, guitarist Duane Denison has joined with Tomahawk and Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten to form a new band called The Unsemble. They've shared a tune off their upcoming self-titled debut—which hits stores on March 4—and you can hear that over at the A.V. Club.
Okay … it may seem like I'm playing favorites here … what with mentioning St. Vincent's upcoming self-titled release again. But it's not from a lack of trying to expand my horizons, people. It's just that Annie Clark has now posted another song, “Prince Johnny,” from her upcoming LP, and since it's real good stuff, I thought, “why not share it?” So you can hear that below.
It's no secret that Kurt Vile's Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze was a pretty stellar release. We don't need to go there, ’cause I've already gone there. But this isn't about Vile. No, this is about Ms. Aly Spaltro aka Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. LLB's 2013 record Ripely Pine was one of my favorite albums of the year—and for damn good reason (see “Crane Your Neck” or “You Are the Apple”). But now Ms. Spaltro has covered Vile's “Girl Called Alex” to pay homage to what she considered the best record of 2013. You can hear that below.
So many collaborations! Just last week I mentioned Ariel Pink's involvement in Raw Deal. Apparently he's also involved in another project with Jorge Elbrecht, and that’s called Jorge Elbrose. They've just come out with a video for their track “Called to Ring.” You can read more about their project at Pitchfork, and you can watch the video below.
Guitar legend Carlos Santana has announced that he's going to release a new record in early 2014, and he will preview the album's material at a concert in Guadalajara, Mexico on Dec. 14. Looks like some people have some flights to book.
Uh-oh spaghettios, it's that time of year again. The time when music aficionados, nerds and enthusiasts altogether flock to local record stores to purchase limited edition pressings from your favorite bands … yes, it's Record Store Day … or at least the Black Friday edition. Some bands doing special releases include The Doors, Cheap Trick, Tegan & Sara, Roy Orbison and more. You can go to the Record Store Day website for a full list.
Punk fans rejoice! Bad Religion's Christmas Songs drops on Oct. 29, but the band has provided a little slice of the festive season by sharing their cover of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Nothing says Christmas like a punk/thrash version of a Christian classic.
It wasn't enough for Kurt Vile to release what I consider to be one of the best albums of 2013, but he had to go the extra mile by releasing an EP, It's a big world out there (and I am scared), which comes out Nov. 19. Vile has given a sneak peek of the EP by making one of the tracks (“Feel My Pain”) available online. You can head over to Consequence of Sound for a listen.
Bombadil is one of those derivative folk-pop bands, but their mellifluous melodies are easy to get lost in. My favorite track off their album, Metrics of Affection, was “Born at 5:00,” and it's one of those sentimental ditties where a life is encapsulated within three to four minutes (which is no easy feat). So it's awfully appropriate the band decided to make a video for this particular track.
I don't like Billie Joe Armstrong. I like Norah Jones. I love the Everly Brothers. So upon reading that Armstrong and Jones decided to cover the Everly Brothers' Songs Our Daddy Taught Us with a series of duets, I was a little unsure of how to feel. Then I listened to their version of the track “Long Time Gone,” and my worries were immediately assuaged. Their album, Foreverly, hits stores on Nov. 25, and you can head over to Stereogum to read an interview with the artists about the record.
It seems like the Daft Punk craze is anything but dying down as the band have decided to expand on Random Access Memories by releasing a deluxe box set, which includes a 56-page booklet, robot schematics, a 70mm motion picture film strip and more. That available for shipping in early December, but it's available or preorder and runs about $275.
The Arcade Fire have been everywhere. From performing on “Saturday Night Live” to an appearance on “The Colbert Report” to playing numerous shows in preparation for their upcoming album's release (Reflektor comes out next week), they've been anything but shy about making their faces recognizable. Not that they weren't already well-known. Now they've shared the entire album via Youtube.
Paul McCartney shared a new video for the track, “Queenie Eye,” from his latest LP New, which basically shows McCartney laying the track down in a studio before a celebrity dance party ensues. Naturally Meryl Streep is the best one.
M.I.A. Isn't one to shy away from confrontation. So it's no surprise that she shared a new track (“Y.A.L.A.”), which is sort an answer to Drake's “YOLO” motto. She previewed a sample of the track last week, but now the song is available for aural consumption in its entirety. It's also going to be on her upcoming album, Matangi, which comes out Nov. 5.
I love Chinese food, and apparently so do a lot of people. Because Alison Gold's ode to Oriental cuisine has gone viral and debuted at 29 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Many know Jim James the front man of My Morning Jacket. Some know him from his work in Monsters of Folk. And some know him simply as Jim James, since his solo LP debuted in February. Now James has shared a video for album track “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.),” which you can view below.
Last Month in Music
Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (!).
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.”
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.
A Vile Sincerity
Songwriter Kurt Vile talks music, American fiction and fatherhood
Happy Birthday Oskar Aage Sonnenberg Petersen!
Twenty one years ago today, my oldest son was born and I had to stop smoking in the house. My wife Susan and I were actually expecting a baby girl, thanks to several eerie, wienerless ultrasound images taken a couple months earlier. But as it turned out, Oskar had been tucking. I witnessed his birth. He was almost born during an episode of The Fugitive, starring David Janssen (one of my all-time favorite TV shows), but when 4pm rolled around and our little groundhog hadn’t peeked out of his hole yet, I quickly changed the channel to Star Trek so Oskar could be born during episode 18, “The Squire of Gothos.” I felt a little faint at my first glimpse of him—instead of a human face with eyes and a nose and a mouth, there was only smooth skin. But that turned out to be the top of his head; he actually did have a face and also, much to our surprise, a wiener. And then a bunch of other stuff happened, and then he turned into a 21-year-old man. He’s taller, better looking and funnier than I am. We’re going to see the Kurt Vile show together on Friday, if anybody wants to buy him a drink. Happy birthday, Oskar!