morning phase


V.23 No.4 | 1/23/2014

Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, has announced that he's coming out with a solo LP, titled Everyday Robots. The album comes out on April 29, which is still a little down the road, so that gives you time to save some pennies. But Albarn has made the title track and video available, so you can check that out below.

Amnesty International is putting together a Human Rights Concert (well, putting it back on, so to speak), and they've gotten some good names to provide the tunes, like Flaming Lips, Lauryn Hill, Cold War Kids, etc. But most importantly, they're gonna have Pussy Riot at the festivities … or at least the two members who were formerly imprisoned, but released about a month ago. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will make an appearance on Feb. 5 at the Bringing Human Rights Home concert at Brooklyn's Barclay's Center. So pack those bags and get to steppin'!

I've probably said this before, but I don't mind saying it again. I hate Kanye West. No. Hate is a strong word. I severely dislike Kanye West. Is the man talented? Yes. Does he need to shut his mouth if he's not spitting fierce rhymes over intricate beats? Yes. But he doesn't. That's the problem. Regardless, when Kanye isn't on a soap-box, he's actually an extremely talented individual. So I guess it's fitting that Interview Magazine paired him with innovative filmmaker Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave) for a print interview. You can read that here.

When you see a music project simply called Miserable, you have to take a listen. So it was a leap that I took when Stereogum highlighted a new track by Miserable, or Kristina Esfandiari (formerly of Whirr). Granted, I've never listened to her former band; this dark, brooding track immediately drew me in. The wall of sound existing within the short expanse of time it takes to get through it is immediately apparent, the thundering drums that quietly linger in the background before becoming a full force all their own. It's a nice treat. The track (titled “Bell Jar”) comes off her Halloween Dreams 7-inch, which hits the streets on Feb. 18. But you can hear the track below.

According to NME, in 1992 Columbia Records threw a special 30th anniversary concert for Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden, which featured performances by numerous legends, from Johnny Cash to George Harrison, from Tracy Chapman to Lou Reed. And now that special concert is going to be released on CD and DVD on March 4. You can click here to get a full tracklisting of the CD and see a trailer for the DVD release.

I'm a huge Beck fan, just in case that's not already been made painfully obvious. Whether I'm listening to the gutter-soaked ramblings of a “loser” on Mellow Gold, or the electronic intonations of a veteran on The Information, the man just doesn't stop. And now Beck has released the audio of a track (“Blue Moon”) off his upcoming record Morning Phase. The album comes out on Feb. 25, which is right around the corner, so just bear with me while I try to contain my excitement. You can hear the track below.

Nicki Minaj and Drake have proven to be ubiquitous entities in the music-sphere. Good for them. It's a hard business, ain't it? So then it must be time to celebrate. I guess that's why their label is releasing Young Money: Rise of an Empire, which features tracks from Lil Wayne, the aforementioned Drake and Minaj, Birdman, Tyga and others. You can hear the Lil Wayne's track (“We Alright”) with Birdman and Euro, and read more about the compilation here.

Doesn't retiring from the music business mean not releasing any more albums? Or does it just mean releasing music but not making a public statement over it? In Tina Turner's case, it's the latter. The 74-year-old rock and soul icon has announced an album of love songs, titled Love Songs, to be released on Feb. 4. According to Billboard, the album will have some Turner classics like “What's Love Got to Do With It?” and “Private Dancer,” and some unreleased tracks. So get ready for that one.

I've only sporadically heard songs from Gary Clark Jr., but the amount of praise that's been thrown his way has been hefty. I remember reading a glowing story about the blues musician in Texas Monthly, and that made me curious about him. Of course, I forgot his name and never looked back. That won't happen twice. Now Gary Clark Jr. is coming out with Blak and Blu: The Mixtape, which features unreleased tracks and remixes featuring such names as Big K.R.I.T., Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and more. You can hear the Big K.R.I.T. Remix of “Blak and Blu” over at Consequence of Sound. Apparently the mixtape doesn't have a release date yet. So keep your eyes and ears open.

Bet you never thought Patti Smith would cover a Rihanna track. Well, she did. A video recently surfaced of a concert performance from December that features Smith singing the somber ballad “Stay.” You can view that below.

Drag City, a record label hosting such contemporaries as Joanna Newsom (one of my all-time favorites), Bill Callahan and Ty Segall, has teamed up with Fred Armisen to release a series of 7” records of … wait for it … “Saturday Night Live” songs from Armisen's time on the show. You can head over to Stereogum to read more about that.

Uh-oh, someone's trying to bring the roof down in a big way. English electro duo Disclosure released their debut LP (Settle) last year. Now they've redone their track “F For You,” but they've added Mary J. Blige to the mix. This version of the bombastic club jam will definitely hit some turntables in the coming months (if it hasn't already). You can see the video for the track below.

V.22 No.45 | 11/7/2013

Since last week's Rooster Roundabout, we lost one of rock 'n' roll's truest gods … Mr. Lou Reed. I can't speak for others, but he had a profound effect on how I listen to music, and he showed the immense beauty that exists when poetry and rock meld together seamlessly. It's a practice few can master. And no one did it like Reed. You can read the obituary his wife, Laurie Anderson, wrote here. This one's for you, Lou.

According to the folks over at Pitchfork, Beck has signed with Capitol Records and will be releasing a new album (Morning Phase) in February 2014. This has been sort of a long time coming, as his last full-length release was back in 2008, and it wasn't one of his best. They also stated that a good amount of personnel on this new record worked with Beck on 2002's Sea Change, so this should be interesting.

Okay, I'm obviously playing favorites at this point, but I can't help it. Savages is still very much on my radar with their stellar release Silence Yourself. And now they've come out with a new video for album closer “Marshal Dear,” one of the best tracks on the album. Then again, all of the tracks on the album are fantastic. Okay, okay … I'll stop gushing. Just watch the animated, conceptually war-torn video.

Oh those relentless psych-garage rockers! First Ty Segall and now Thee Oh Sees. The latter band is coming out with a third Singles Collection that's scheduled to drop on Nov. 26. They've also made the track “What You Need” available, so get those boomboxes (assuming you still got one) prepared for this probably-pretty-good compilation.

James Blake has one of those magnetic voices that just needs to be heard. It operates on a wavelength that mixes beautiful tones with a soulful prowess rarely seen in male vocalists. Maybe that's why Blake won the 2013 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for his album Overgrown. For those who don't know, the Mercury Prize is given once a year for the best British or Irish album. Past winners include Primal Scream, PJ Harvey and Antony & The Johnsons.

Dancing at numerous parties in Austin, Texas, it was natural to stumble upon Calle 13, a Puerto Rican outfit who've been steadily releasing albums for years to much acclaim. They've also garnered 19 Latin Grammies. Not bad, eh. Now the group has announced a new single that'll hit the streets on Nov. 13, and a new album that will come out in March, though they've stated that they plan on releasing it independently. So we'll see how that goes. You can hear their awesome track “Atrevete te te” below.

Lady Gaga has unleashed another derivative disco pop-infused club track, titled “Venus,” to the masses. Can we not have a little time to digest the last one, Gaga? Sheesh. Either way … the track is now available for listening via the world wide web. Gaga's ARTPOP is slated for a Nov. 11 release, so keep that pocket change jingling.

Devendra Banhart came out with a substantial release this past year (Mala). It was a release that showed him recycling his worldly sentiments and regurgitating them in a sonically forward-moving motion. Now Banhart has released a music video for the track “Für Hildegard Von Bingen.” You can view that below.

A week ahead of the release of The Marshall Mathers LP2, Eminem has shared his collaborative track with Rihanna, titled “The Monster.” If the song isn't a groundbreaking attempt to boast marketable partnerships, it's at least an okay iteration of Eminem's prowess as a rapper. And at this point, can we hope for anything more? [Editors Note: By the time this was scheduled to go up, Eminem also made his collaboration with Kendrick Lamar available, so you can hear that as well.]