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.
King Tuff's Was Dead album was one of my favorites of 2013. Though it came out years ago, fan fervor over the original recordings made him reissue it last year, and rightfully so. It's a fantastic record. Now Tuff is gearing up to release another LP (Black Moon Spell), and he's giving a taste of what it'll entail with the album track “Eyes of the Muse.” That should tide you over 'til Sept. 23, but I'm sure he'll release more previews between then and now. Here's hoping.
King Tuff - “Eyes of the Muse”
I've always liked Usher ... well, mostly. I've lost touch with a lot of his recent work, but “Confessions Part II,” “Nice and Slow” and “Yeah” are some good songs to dance, reflect or get in the mood to. Whatever your preference, the man knows what he's doing. Now Usher has made a track available that was produced by Pharrell and features Nicki Minaj. The slick, club-happy number will definitely be a crowdpleaser. Head to Hip-Hop Wired to hear it.
Coldplay and Cat Power? I'm sure some could have predicted it … probably not. Cat Power is ... well ... Cat Power. And Coldplay used to be good. Regardless, it's an interesting combination any way you squeeze it, and the song they've concocted together (written by Coldplay's Chris Martin, sung by Chan Marshall) is a contemplative little number. The track “Wish I Was Here” was written and recorded for Zach Braff's upcoming film of the same name. How that'll go is an entirely different thing. But check out the song below.
Coldplay & Cat Power - “Wish I Was Here”
There's always dissension when a legendary rock group announces they've recorded new material. Some say it's going to be awful. Some say it's a new era, a new sound. Whatever your views, that still doesn't stop it from happening. Take Pink Floyd for instance. The group is coming out with a new record (The Endless River) in October, and according to the band's website, it's “an album of mainly ambient and instrumental music based on the 1993/4 Division Bell sessions which feature David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.” So keep an eye out for that one … or don't … I mean I might not even remember … I probably will though.
I mentioned a few weeks back that Christopher Owens (former frontman from Girls) was coming out with his second solo album. Well, that's still happening. The record (A New Testament) hits the music-sphere on Sept. 30. And Owens shared a snippet in the form of “Nothing More Than Everything to Me,” which you can view below.
Christopher Owens - “Nothing More Than Everything to Me”
It's happening. Beck is going to release a new album titled Song Reader. I know, I know, he already came out with a record called Song Reader (though it was a release of sheet music, made to be interpreted by skilled musicians). But Beck is going to release actual recordings of those songs, and each track is going to be done by a different artist. Among them are Laura Marling, Jack Black, Jarvis Cocker, Jack White and much more. Head to Pitchfork to get more deets on that. Oh, and it drops on July 29, which is hella soon!
Like most, I became familiar with The Vines at the turn of the millennium when they graced us with “Get Free.” Anyone else remember the Hives vs. Vines battle during MTV's Music Awards? Them's were the days. The band has been steadily releasing albums over the past decade, though none have found their way on my radar. Now, they're coming out with a new double LP (Wicked Nature). They're self-releasing it via PledgeMusic where fans donate funds and get free downloads of some of the album's tracks. So there ya go. Not sure when the record is coming out, but you can watch the video for their new song “Metal Zone” below.
The Vines - “Metal Zone”
Out the left hangar
Taylor Swift is a writer? Well, duh, I know she writes her own songs, but an editorial? And for the Wall Street Journal? The country-pop sensation wrote a piece on the future of the music industry, speculating on where music will be in 30 or 40 years. Swift describes herself at the beginning of the piece as an “enthusiastic optimist.” (Go figure.) She does say some insightful things here and there, and whether you agree with her assertions, it's not as if she's the be-all-end-all authority on music entirely. But if you want her perspective, it's not a terrible read. See what she has to say here.
Fans of Death Proof are no strangers to Mary Elizabeth Winstead (you know, the one who was dressed like a cheerleader in the second half). 'Member the scene where she sits in the car and sings a lovely cover of Smith's “Baby It's You”? Good times. Well Winstead and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura have a music project together (Got A Girl), and they're getting ready to release a record on July 22. To give people a preview, they've made the track “There's a Revolution” available. Listen to the retro pop ditty below.
There are still moments when I get tears in my eyes at the thought that I will never see The White Stripes live in person. I think back to moments when I could have seen them had I driven 3 1/2 hours, changed highways, snacked on goodies, all while playing all six of their fantastic albums in chronological order. That is slightly remedied with the release of a live White Stripes album (Live Under the Lights of the Rising Sun). No release date on it yet, but the record will have 31 tracks, and it's taken from their first tour in Japan in 2000. So it'll probably have some good early stuff. Head to NME to read more 'bout it.
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.
The Magnetic Fields - “Two Characters in Search of a Country Song”
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.
Daft Punk feat. Jay Z - “Computerized”
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!
Johnny Cash - “She Used to Love Me a Lot”
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.
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.
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 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.