Monday, January 31, 2011

Helplessness Blues

Finally.  My bearded-mountain-artistan-flannel-clad crush band has made a second full-length album.  While only one song has been released thus far, "Helplessness Blues" possesses the same emotive qualities that so beautifully defined both their full-length self-titled record and EP Sun Giant.  Fleet Foxes makes heart-wrenching fall-in-love music.  The kind that should come with a surgeon general's warning:  Listening may cause heart palpitations, chest pain and rash emotional surrender to anyone within arm's length, particularly on a cold winter's night where pipes, plaid and/or many blankets are involved.   It's too bad that they aren't releasing the whole thing until May, what with Valentine's Day right around the corner and all.

In the meantime...

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues by subpop

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Solitude is Bliss

We've all been there. In the muck. Trudging day in and day out through a bit of a Murphy's Law induced rough patch. Despite your most valiant efforts to be optimistic and get up each day with a new lease on life, shit keeps happening. Your birthday is a rainy Monday so you dash over to the bus stop for some relief from the rain even though you're already soaking wet.  Suddenly, you get a phone call from someone who must be wanting to wish you happiness, but no. (F, why did I answer that?!) She nags and nags and just won't let up... even though you've tried to explain that it's a rainy Monday, you're late, soaking wet and waiting at the bus stop. In trying to be a human umbrella for your bags and politely get your boss of the phone, you drop your scarf straight into a dirty New York City sewage puddle. It doesn't stop there, no sir. You bend down to pick up the scarf and at the exact moment, the bus arrives, splashing that dirty New York City sewage water all over you.

And, cut.

When everyday feels like a rainy Monday, food tastes like sewage covered birthday cake, fun is a three letter word that you vaguely seem to remember from a book you read one time, and Murphy just won't stop kicking the crap out of you...
Solitude really is bliss.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ginger (Oh) Snap

M.I.A.'s new video for "Born Free" is already being censored for its gruesome violence.  Daughter of a Tamil revolutionary, M.I.A. typically takes her politically-charged lyrics, masks them with beats, and produces them until they become bizarrely accessible, questionably indie, and borderline poppy.  Her first album, Arular, sold a mere 130,000 copies, but soared on Indie charts and incited a kind of conversation that the music world had been missing for some time.  M.I.A.'s combination of slang-filled simple language and elusive politics perhaps only help to keep listeners coming back for more-  trying to solve the mystery behind the music might be more fun than the music itself.  Her second album, Kala, skyrocketed her to stardom with the hit "Paper Planes" and the help of a little movie called "Slumdog Millionaire." But, despite collaborating with Timbaland and other acclaimed artists, M.I.A. hasn't lost her unique vision and sense of style.  In fact, "Born Free" proves that she's willing to go further and harder than ever to send a message.  The track, which recently leaked on the internet is from her forthcoming album that will debut in June.  The video, directed by Romain Gavras, packs graphic violence- batons, guns, landmines- and male/female nudity into this powerfully genocidal punch.  It has been yanked from youtube, but you can watch all 9 minutes of the video on her website here.  Channeling Rage Against the Machine with its anger-infused percussion and screamy vocals, "Born Free" certainly won't be played at prom.  With this one, M.I.A. won't just grab your attention, she'll rip it out of you, tear it to shreds and set it on fire.  Best not to watch this one before bed, lest nightmares highjack your brain.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lollapalooza 2010

Headliners:  Soundgarden, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Phoenix
Also featuring:  Social Distortion, MGMT, Jimmy Cliff, Hot Chip, The Black Keys, The National, Spoon, The New Pornographers, Grizzly Bear, Wolfmother, Yeasayer, The xx, and many more...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Beat NPR to Local Natives (sort of)!

Discovered these guys not too long ago, but you'll note that I've had the link to "Airplanes" under New Stuff on the right for a few days, if not a week.  Since Local Natives are playing SXSW, NPR has certainly known of them for awhile, but they've only just posted "Airplanes" as their "Song of the Day" today.  Woo!  I do love how they've described this track as "lost love in a lighthearted romp"... pretty spot on.  This indie-pop-romp is exactly the kind of song that a girl would pine for from her college boyfriend.  The pleading chorus ("I want you back...") is sweet and sincere.  The percussion is catchy, snappy, and fun.  Can't help but love this love song. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Broken Bells

Who would have thought that Gnarls Barkley beats meet The Shins sweet indie sound would make for a seriously dynamite duet album?  Well... Brian Burton and James Mercer, that's who.  Danger Mouse and The Shins frontman have teamed up to become Broken Bells, combining their unique styles to create something fresh, innovative, and just plain cool.  The two artists met several years ago while playing a music festival, but couldn't find the time to collaborate until this past year.  Their self-titled debut album was just released on March 9th, and I've already got it playing on a loop.

Soulful piano and an organ driven groove reflect the Danger Mouse touch, while folky guitar strumming and emotive vocals shout Mr. Mercer.  Together as Broken Bells, these two have put together an album that is beautifully peaceful while capturing a certain sense of angst and attitude.

The album opens with their first single, “The High Road,”  which is bound to climb the charts.  It's so catchy and moody that you swear you've heard it before.  "Vaporize" starts off sounding like a typical Shins song with Mercer's strumming, pining, yearning... but, then the deep organ and percussion kick in and you know Brian Burton is behind this one.  "Your Head Is On Fire" is a swimmy, swirly kind of tune.  Imagine a slow motion film clip of someone stop, drop, and rolling with splices of a flower blooming.  "The Ghost Inside" is one of my favorite tracks on the album.  Mercer's falsetto makes him sound like a different vocalist entirely, and the space-funk-staccato is executed perfectly.  "Sailing to Nowhere" is a dynamic take on the tried and true call and response technique.  For some reason, I feel like Broken Bells is channeling Joe Cocker's A Little Help From My Friends on this one.  It's the burst of heady guitar and power organ. "Trap Doors" feels distant and tormented in an indie rock meets a space dream sequence kind of way.  "Citizen" is probably the slowest track on the album.  With a mournful, trudge-along kind of quality, this one is so mellow and melancholy that it almost loses you to your own thoughts.   "October" is similar to the first single off the album and is bound to be a hit with multi-tracked vocals and an infectious repeated piano melody.  "Mongrel Heart" transports you to a new-wave-driving-a-delorean-in-the-rain 1980s movie scene:  moody and menacing.  The last track "Mall and Misery" starts off with a twangy, peaceful strings sound and then slides into new-wave infused beats before trailing off into 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Listen to the album here.

Broken Bells will be playing NPR's South by Southwest Festival in Austin on the 17th, which you can stream live at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Whole Wide World

Remember that scene in Stranger Than Fiction when uber-liberal-tattooed-out-hippy-mama-pastry-chef Maggie Gyllenhaal jumps socially-awkward-uptight-tax-man Will Ferrell?  Yeah, me too.  This morning I woke up to Wreckless Eric on the radio, and naturally had to search for the music video.   Stumbled upon this little gem: 

Check out Will and Maggie here:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

You're So Vain: Mystery Solved?

After decades of speculation, Carly Simon has finally shed some serious light on her elusive 1972 hit. Fans and friends have suspected some of Simon's high profile exes such as Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson and Cat Stevens to be the target of "You're So Vain," but the singer kept her lips sealed. When asked in interviews about the mystery man, she often responded that the song really reflected a melange of people and relationships from throughout the course of her life.  However, in a recent interview with Uncut Magazine, Simon said that the answer can (finally!) be heard at the end of the song's acoustic version on her new album, "Never Been Gone." Britain's Sun has a clip where the whisper is played both forward and backward.  They suggest that she's saying the name David, but let's be honest, David kind of sounds like Beatty or Baby or any other number of other muffled names.  Word on the street is that she is referring to David Geffen, a music producer and head of Elektra records at the time.  Apparently Simon resented his favoritism towards then rival Joni Mitchell...?  Pretty anticlimactic if you ask me.  I prefer to imagine that an unraveling high-profile relationship in the 60s inspired this classic break-up song.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Acknowledging Valentine's Day: Love Songs, A Video Playlist

Ah, Valentine's Day. An over-commercialized Hallmark holiday that so many of us love to love or love to hate. Whether you've got significant other sexy-time, friend-sulking solidarity, cougar chasing or no plans at all, Valentine's Day is surely an occasion for some tug-at-your-heart-strings tunes. Here's my playlist... What will you be listening to?

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Knife Score Opera

Swedish dynamic brother-sister duo of The Knife, Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer recently found sound and vision in the Amazon for their latest, and perhaps most peculiar project.  Tomorrow, in a Year,  the Charles-Darwin-The Origin-of-Species-inspired opera debuted this Fall in Europe, but the studio album is set to release on-line on February 2nd (though you can actually listen to the entire album now on The Knife's website.)  Dreijer Andersson and Dreijer, known for their bizarre behavior and preferred anonymity, recorded an interview about the creative process for the score with voice modifiers.  Not to mention, Karin recently accepted a Grammis award for her side-project Fever Ray while spoofing Lady GaGa's red-lace-and-crown get-up and taking it to a whole new level of weird. Looking like a claymation villain, she moans into the mic... Check out the madness below.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alice Soundtrack Revealed

Disney and Tim Burton's remake of Alice in Wonderland is set to hit theaters on March 5th, but the soundtrack has already been revealed.  A video for the first single by Avril Lavinge is rumored to premier in February, while the entire album "Almost Alice" is said to be available on March 2nd.  The selected artists are undoubtedly a bit mainstream, but bands such as Franz Ferdinand, Wolfmother and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will almost certainly shine here.  Although, the album won't feature the eerie vocals of Grace Slick, at least Walt and Tim were clever enough to include "White Rabbit."  One question though:  Where is Danny Elfman?

Here's hoping for something delightfully dark!

1. "Alice (Underground)" performed by Avril Lavigne
2. "The Poison" performed by The All-American Rejects
3. "The Technicolor Phase" performed by Owl City
4. "Her Name Is Alice" performed by Shinedown
5. "Painting Flowers" performed by All Time Low
6. "Where's My Angel" performed by Metro Station
7. "Strange" performed by Tokio Hotel and Kerli
8. "Follow Me Down" performed by 3OH!3 featuring Neon Hitch
9. "Very Good Advice" performed by Robert Smith
10. "In Transit" performed by Mark Hoppus with Pete Wentz
11. "Welcome to Mystery" performed by Plain White T's
12. "Tea Party" performed by Kerli
13. "The Lobster Quadrille" performed by Franz Ferdinand
14. "Running Out of Time" performed by Motion City Soundtrack
15. "Fell Down a Hole" performed by Wolfmother
16. "White Rabbit" performed by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Friday, December 4, 2009

Vote for For Your Favorite Music of 2009

NPR's All Songs Considered is conducting their yearly poll.  I've started my own list on this blog, which gives you a pretty good indication of who I voted for, but don't be swayed.  Get in there and vote for what you like!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yeasayer Follow-up

The new video for "Ambling Alp" on Pitchfork TV...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Glitter and Doom Live

Tom Waits has dazzled audiences with his musical talents, tall tales, and eclectic eccentricities for decades.  With his 60th birthday quickly approaching, the singer/songwriter/composer/actor has decided to release an almost unexpected live album.  Out today, Glitter and Doom Live will showcase songs and yarns selected from various shows throughout the wildly successful (and just plain wild) tour.  For those of us who missed it (Tom's general reluctance to tour made Glitter one of 2008's most of highly coveted tickets and sometimes selling a kidney just isn't an option), the live album reconstructs a night with the bourbon-soaked-woodhouse-smoked-off-beat-blues vocalist.  You can download a free preview to the album here.

For starving students and Tom Waits tenderfoots, NPR's live concert series has a fantastic recording of the Glitter and Doom show in Atlanta.

One last thing:  If you haven't seen Tom's gem of a press conference, watch it now.  From beginning to end. You will thank me later.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2min and 40sec of Awesomeness

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck just earned themselves a spot on the Best Songs of 2009 list.  Their new duet "Heaven Can Wait" evokes a catchy kind of melancholy and a kitschy kind of awesomeness.  Their stream-of-consciousness-slow-motion video is filled with fruit baseball, old people knife fights, an astronaut with pancakes for a head, creepy animal-human hybrids, a slumber-party, one man bathing in cereal while another runs for his life from a flying axe, and of course, Charlotte and Beck... looking calm, collected, and as cool as ever.  Love it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are playing in NYC this week- their shows sold out almost instantaneously.  If you're bummed about not getting to see this happy-hippy-dippy 10 piece folk-rock group, check out their Tiny Desk concert at the NPR studio.  Rollingstone has named these guys one of 2009's groups to watch. If you're unfamiliar with ESMZ, think hand-holding-while-dancing-barefoot-in-a-field feel good music.  It's certainly not for everyone, but Edward Sharpe seems to be on the rise to cosmic, spacy stardom.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nick Cave and The Road

The film adaptation for Cormac McCarthy's 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning book "The Road" will be released  on November 25th.  The journey of a father and son through a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, "The Road" is heart-wrenchingly bleak.  If the film stacks up to the book, it will be painful but beautiful to watch.  This particular type of story-line calls for a uniquely sensitive score that will delicately enhance the emotions and aesthetics of the film.  Nick Cave has undertaken this task, and you can catch a snippet of the sounds here.  Get ready to be heart-broken.