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.
While I'm not much of a Robin Thicke fan, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked “Blurred Lines” because it reminded me of my favorite Marvin Gaye track “Got to Give it Up.” (Lest we forget that's the reason the Gaye family is suing Thicke.) Regardless, Thicke has released his new video for the track “Feel Good,” and while this one doesn't have the same laid-back, good-time vibe of “Blurred Lines,” I can foresee it becoming a club favorite. I think that's the goal at this point for most pop musicians, right?
Reverend Horton Heat was one of those musicians that various friends played, but never really stuck. Maybe I was sleeping … maybe my mind just wasn't too much into the psychobilly fanaticism that permeated an outsider group of friends around 2008. Regardless Reverend Horton Heat (real name Jim Heath) is prepping a new album, titled Rev, that's scheduled to be released on Jan. 21. You can hear a track from it, titled “Spooky Boots,” (which also gives a shout-out to the Land of Enchantment) over at Billboard. Because why not.
Soul singer Charles Bradley is proof that it doesn't matter how old you are or what your background is. If you have natural, raw talent, people will notice. Having two albums under his belt, Bradley has taken a somewhat unthinkable turn: He's provided a soulful cover of Black Sabbath's “Changes.” And it's fantastic. You can listen to that below.
It's that time again, y'all. Time for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to announce the newest pool of inductees. Among the musicians to be inducted and honored at this year's festivities is Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Kiss, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt. The ceremony takes place at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on April 10.
My first introduction to Swedish singer-songwriter Jose Gonzalez was his cover of The Knife's “Heartbeats.” While that track was excellent, it couldn't have compared to the magnetic prowess that made the original so noticeable. But that's neither here nor there. Now Gonzalez has a few tracks on the soundtrack to the Ben Stiller flick The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. And Gonzalez has released a video for the track “Stay Alive,” which was written by Ryan Adams. You can watch that below.
I'm a fan of bare acoustic ditties. Maybe that's why it took me hearing A Sleep & A Forgetting to finally notice Islands, even though a friend had tried to get me to listen to them for years. Nick Thorburn (the front man, songwriter, extraordinaire) released Islands' latest opus, Ski Mask, earlier this year, and now he's shared an acoustic track that he recorded last Friday. You can hear it below.
Girls who were 16 circa 1998 are about to be very, very excited … and cry. For what, I don't know. But, Dave Matthews, Jakob Dylan and a host of other musicians have formed a new band (The Nauts). Apparently they got together at Brady Blade's Studios in Shreveport, La., to record some material, and now they've booked some live shows. Let the crying commence!
Country music legend Ray Price died at the age of 87 this past week. Though a lot of people (myself included) weren't too familiar with Price's repertoire, his indelible imprint in the music country sphere has been felt and ruminated over since his death to pancreatic cancer was announced. It's always hard to see a legend called home. So here's “Crazy Arms.”
Ray Price - “Crazy Arms”
I've said it once, and I'll say it again: If it's free, it's me. Texas group Okkervil River have released a third EP of '80s covers, titled Golden Opportunities 3. The mix features covers of artists ranging from Roseanne Cash to Don Henley. You can download or stream the EP (and get the two previous Golden Opportunities releases) here.
Every bit as dark and seductive as they were when they first started, the Dead Weather's latest song, “Open Up (That's Enough),” shows the group in a stylized light that further exemplifies their hard blues rock tendencies. Maybe the cigarettes are helping Mosshart's voice because it's working on this track. But enough of my gushing. You can hear the track below, and you can download it digitally on Jan. 14.
The Dead Weather - “Open Up (That’s Enough)”
Sufjan Stevens has gotten together with Son Lux and Serengeti to form a trio of ideas (and music, obviously) called Sisyphus. And they're coming out with their eponymous debut on March 18, and they've shared a track, titled “Calm It Down.” Judging from the single alone, it could be interesting, or it could get old really fast. Let's see what happens.
Oh how relentless this Beck guy is … after his last album was released in 2008 (with production duties handled by Danger Mouse), he kind of laid low (minus a sheet music album). That is until he started releasing tracks early this summer, including “I Won't Be Long.” Now Beck has shared a new song, titled “Gimme.” And this one sounds more in tune with the work he provided on The Information, which can be good or bad, depending on what version of Beck you like. Though none of these songs will be on Beck's upcoming LP.
Beck - “Gimme”
I was never that big a fan of Islands, until I heard last year's A Sleep and A Forgetting. But judging from one of the first songs made available from Nick Thorburn's latest work, “Wave Forms,” this might be something worth looking into. Pitchfork is currently streaming the album (titled Ski Mask) in full, or you could just get your behind to the store and buy it because it came out this week.
Not to make comparisons, but I'm gonna go ahead and say it. I knew I liked Solange Knowles better than her sister (of Beyoncé fame) when I heard her record, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams. While it wasn't groundbreaking, it showed that she had more of an old school bent. She's released some stuff since, including a new video for her track “Lovers in the Parking Lot,” from her True EP. You can check it out below:
Solange - “Lovers in the Parking Lot”
Seventeen years in the making … Okay, well, maybe they didn't spend that whole time working on the album. But Mazzy Star's upcoming release, Seasons of Your Day, drops next week, but thanks to folks over at The Guardian, you can hear it in its entirety.
I have to admit that while I don't like Britney Spears personally (not that I've met her or anything), some of her songs were markers of very specific times in my adolescence and so on. So it's not too much of an understatement to say that I still follow her career (kind of). But after Spears' latest single “Work Bitch” was leaked online, the pop star and former train-wreck decided to release it a day early.
Britney Spears - “Work Bitch”
Following Ian Curtis' suicide, he became sort of this mystical figure/poet that left the world with a handful of interesting and thought-provoking lyrics from his work with Joy Division. Now those lyrics and some previously unseen notebooks are going to be compiled into a book, titled So This Is Permanence. According to Faber Social, the book is scheduled to be published in spring 2014.
I'm sure people are winding down from the rhythmic dance party that was Daft Punk's single “Get Lucky” from their latest LP, Random Access Memories. But get your feet ready for one more spin on the floor because Daft Punk has shared the video for their second single “Lose Yourself To Dance,” which also features Pharrell and Nile Rodgers.
Daft Punk - “Lose Yourself To Dance”
Allow me to wax romantic about Bass Drum of Death's recent self-titled LP. The record was a garage-psyche-punk gem. So I was delighted to find out this week that the band came out with a video for their track “Bad Reputation.” Though I should warn that the video is probably NSFW.
Bass Drum of Death - “Bad Reputation”
Thanks to the folks over at NME, you can now watch Nirvana play their fantastic track “Scentless Apprentice” on MTV's “Live and Loud.” The footage was originally unavailable, but has been released with the 20th anniversary reissue of In Utero.
Nirvana playing “Scentless Apprentice” on MTV’s “Live and Loud”
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.
I started college in 1980, the same year that the Meat Puppets formed in Phoenix. The music back then was pretty much an endless galaxy of angry, sloppy punk rock bands… plus the crap they played on the radio. Sure, that’s an oversimplification but it helps me tell my story.
Out of that punk rock galaxy, a few bands started doing things a little bit differently, while still retaining their punk rock cred. Hüsker Dü, Minutemen, and Replacements started making music that sounded like something more than just anger. They started writing pop songs. A lot of purists hated them for it, but I liked them all the better.
When I heard Meat Puppets II playing in Bow Wow Records I bought it immediately. It was really important at the time. Nobody on the planet was making music even remotely similar to theirs, and while they were still sort of punk rock they also had a mastery of their instruments that was almost unheard of within the genre.
Kurt Cobain understood how great the Meat Puppets were and did his best to spread the word, covering their songs in radio-friendly unplugged ubiquity. Somehow, it was always more about Nirvana. Well, those were Meat Puppets songs.
Go see the real deal Friday June 10 at the Launchpad. They may not be around forever.
Alex Rose grew up in Santa Fe, played in Albuquerque bands, then moved to Seattle to further his audio engineering career. Our native son has enjoyed a professional music career ever since joining prog / indie rock band Minus the Bear, which stops at the Sunshine Theater this Tuesday in support of Omni (released May 4). In anticipation of the rock that’s to come, here are random selections from his collection—this time with two bonus tracks!