Looks like the Mayans were wrong. And thank God (or Quetzalcoatl) for that. Of course, the Mayan doomsday prophecy was gratuitously misinterpreted by the Western world and looking back, it’s embarrassing how easily we got swept up in it all. With that said, 2012 was indeed an eventful year…
London stepped up for a solid Olympic Games, and Barack Obama stepped back into the White House for another four years; Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars, and then lost upwards of 50 billion dollars after going public; ‘Sandy’ became synonymous with tragedy (the hurricane, and the massacre at Sandy Hook school), and the world lost two great Armstrongs (the death of the spaceman, and the ‘end’ of the bike-man); a crude and offensive YouTube video led to violent riots throughout the Islamic world, while a crude and offensive movie franchise finally came to its conclusion… hallelujah, the Twilight Saga is over.
Now as 2012 comes to an end – and we all breathe a collective sigh of relief that we’re still here – it’s time to look back over the best music released this year…
… You’re expecting an ordered list, aren’t you? You’re ready to scroll down to number one, ready to disagree with my choice, ready to be outraged that I’ve ignored a certain artist. You are so ready, so excited, to tell me how wrong I am; how ‘pretentious’ or ‘pathetic’ or ‘clueless’ the list makes me look. Take a breath, calm down, cast judgments aside, relax. There will be no need for (mock) outrage since this year there is no ranked list.
“WHAT?!?” you scream, “I came here for an ordered, hierarchical list. How dare you!” I apologize for the inconvenience of having to form your own opinion. Seriously, I’m sorry. But I’ve compiled so many end-of-year retrospective lists and frankly I’m sick of ‘top ten’ ranking – and I know that secretly you are too!
Every year critics round up the ‘best’ (read: favorite) albums, and strive to identify common themes in the music. But does it really make sense to impose a narrative onto a list of albums? No, it does not. And forcing albums into a ranked order is almost as senseless (read: difficult). Ranking the top albums released in any given year is hard, really hard. Especially when no record clearly reigns supreme.
Yes, 2012 was an eventful year, but in this humble critic’s opinion, it was not a stellar year for music. Unlike previous years, 2012 is coming to a close without a stand-out, hands-down, unanimously-agreed, hell-yeah “best album.” There were some excellent records released this year, no question, but no album managed to clearly break away from the pack. No album captured the heart and spirit of the year; no album could be deemed ‘generation-defining.’
For confirmation of this fact, simply compare the year-end lists of any number of music publications and notice the inconsistencies; nothing screams “weak year for music” quite like Rolling Stone Magazine selecting Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball as their top album of 2012.
We must accept the fact that there was no Bon Iver this year; no Suburbs, no My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, no Merriweather Post Pavilion, no xx (Coexist was painfully mediocre and entirely lazy, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). The aforesaid albums were more than just great records, they were landmark musical events. They captured something special, something elusive, and offered a glimpse of the future of their respective genres. Simply put: they ‘defined’ rather than ‘dazzled.’
But there is nothing wrong with dazzling, and plenty of albums released this year dazzled the pants off me.
In 2012, the closest we have to a genre-pushing, ‘defining’ artist is the inimitable Frank Ocean. While channel ORANGE is perhaps the most ‘important’ album of the year, I don’t particularly love it. But that’s mainly because I loathe contemporary R&B. Ocean made an R&B album that I enjoy, and for that, he made my list.
My ‘favorite’ album of 2012 is Tame Impala‘s psychedelic triumph, Lonerism. It’s an endlessly fun record that flows like the finest of wines (and soars like the most excellent of LSD trips), but it’s not original. It’s a snapshot of the late ’60s music scene: the songs would be right at home on Revolver or Sgt. Pepper’s. That’s not to say Lonerism is a cheap Beatles rip-off. Tame Impala (read: Kevin Parker) breathes fresh life into an old sound, and creates a new soundscape of their own. But you’ll have to listen to the album in full to understand what I mean…
So maybe there wasn’t as high a peak in 2012 as other years, but there was certainly no shortage of quality records. Instead of a ranked list, I present to you a selection of albums that are among the year’s best; six albums that represent the musical landscape of 2012.
Have I missed some excellent records? Maybe. Will I regret not including some other albums? Probably. Will this new format save me from stressful decision-making? Most definitely.
What follows are six of the best albums released in 2012, in no particular order:
Beach House – Bloom
Bloom is a perfectly titled record. And while I would never write anything as cringe-worthy as ‘the Baltimore dream-pop duo have bloomed over the course of their eight year career,’ I may just be tempted to make a flower reference. For the album unfolds like a delicate orchid, spreading its petals, blooming into something beautiful.
Bloom is moonlight music: for midnight people and insomniacs, who need a burst of phosphorescent ecstasy even more than they need sleep. The album is lush, yet not overbearing; thick with swaths of haze, yet wholly accessible. Bloom is Beach House’s best album by leaps and bounds; it’s an album that is difficult to escape.
Standout tracks: Myth, Wild
Alt-J (∆) – An Awesome Wave
Winners of the coveted Mercury Prize for 2012 (best album from the UK), Alt-J has been making waves across the world with their eccentric fusion of pop, electronica and folk. While some may be turned off by Alt-J’s distinctive vocal harmonies and raspy delivery, this is exactly why I love their debut record, An Awesome Wave. Their sound is unlike anything I’ve heard recently, and in our era of predictable and formulaic songwriting, true uniqueness is damn near impossible to find.
Standout tracks: Tessellate, Fitzpleasure
Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
Killer Mike has been in the rap game longer than most, but has yet to achieve the mainstream attention he deserves; his sixth studio album R.A.P. Music should change that. The record bursts with hard-hitting, hook-heavy hip hop, and is produced to perfection by forward-thinking New York rapper, El-P.
Killer Mike’s rapping has never sounded better – his Southern growl is terrifying and electric – but it’s his politically-charged and socially-relevant rhymes that make R.A.P. Music one of the best hip hop records in recent history. Mike’s astute and clever lyrical style is a breath of fresh air among the materialistic swagger and braggadocio of the contemporary rap scene; as he says, “I don’t make dance music, this is R.A.P. / Opposite of the sucker shit they play on TV.”
Standout tracks: Big Beast, Reagan
Grimes – Visions
If I were to describe Grimes’ fourth LP, Visions, I would use phrases like: post-Internet, nihilistic self-indulgence, synth-tastic triumph, digital impressionism, jubilant escapism. But then I would sound like some pompous jackass with a thesaurus. Besides, Grimes’ music cannot be defined by mere adverbs and adjectives.
One would need to splatter oil on a canvas, or dance to the sound of whales mating in order to describe Visions. It is bizarre art that can only be described by other bizarre art; art that revels in its eccentricity and refuses to submit to contemporary taxonomy. “Not knowing how to play music is my greatest asset,” Boucher once said, and her disregard for conventional instrumentation makes Visions almost anti-music. Grimes’ hyper-reality is unlike anything you’ve ever heard, but I dare you to ignore it.
Standout tracks: Genesis, Oblivion
Tame Impala – Lonerism
“Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream” – These instructions from the Beatles’ ode to transcendentalism “Tomorrow Never Knows” is perhaps the best way to approach Tame Impala’s sophomore recording, the brilliant and kaleidoscopic Lonerism. The album is a hallucinogenic journey into the heartbreak and paranoia of songwriter Kevin Parker. Yet don’t for a second think that Lonerism is a depressing listen. Far from it. Parker’s melancholia is awash in impressionistic tones of joyous abandon and Technicolor escapism…
… Confused? Fair enough, for Lonerism transcends basic description and takes on a life of its own; it creates its own sentiments and leaves the listener in a sleepwalking daze. Drenched in reverb, tangerine trees and marmalade skies, Lonerism is the year’s best trip. Don’t fight it, relax and float away.
Standout tracks: Mind Mischief, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
Frank Ocean’s major label debut, channel ORANGE, is a game-changing record. For one, the album was released just weeks after Ocean’s public confession of bisexuality – in the face of hip hop and R&B’s rampant homophobia, this was a daring and potentially paradigm-shifting revelation.
But channel ORANGE is game-changing in so many other ways, largely for it’s fusion of traditional and modern musical stylings. Ocean effortlessly switches from Motown crooning, to standout rapping (his verse in Odd Future’s “Oldie” is among the year’s best), and he’s created an album that is thematic, yet full of stand-alone singles.
While 2012 will surely be looked back on as the year of the Mayan doomsday prophecy, it would be better remembered as the year Frank Ocean changed the face of contemporary R&B.
Standout tracks: Pyramids, Bad Religion
Bob Dylan – Tempest
Poliça – Give You the Ghost
Twin Shadow – Confess
Nicolas Jaar – Don’t Break My Love
Cat Power – Sun
I’m sure you disagree with my choice of albums to represent the music of 2012. I’m sure you hated at least one of the six records I chose, but I sincerely hope that you loved a few of them.
We survived the end of the world, my friends. Here’s to 2013…
The above article was posted on December 28th, 2012
We received a note from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke yesterday and thought we’d share it with you. It’s regarding his newest musical project called Atoms For Peace, and a brand new album titled Amok. This is all new music which was written specifically for this project. We’re looking forward to hearing the record. The musical lineup is stellar as you will see below.
Here is Thom’s note:
So finally I can tell you the Atoms for Peace record is coming out on the 25th February, it’s called Amok.
The front will look like theez..
The tracks are:
1. Before Your Very Eyes 2. Default 3. Ingenue 4. Dropped 5. Unless 6. Stuck Together Pieces 7. Judge Jury and Executioner 8. Reverse Running 9. Amok
It’s a while to wait i know so i’m sure some other things will occur before then.
Atoms for Peace… members of staff
Me – Vocals, Keyboards, Programming and Guitars Nigel Godrich – Production & Programming Joey Waronker – Drums Mauro Refosco – Percussion Flea – Bass
We formed to learn to play The Eraser record, if you don’t know that, and discovered a really good energy doing that… and it fell into this record.
I’m still reeling from being on tour for much of the year but we are planning to get together and play etc next year ! We’re figuring all that out right now.
Atoms is an ongoing and open ended project, where it leads i know not for certain… which is what is nice about it.”
Amok will be released in the U.S. on February 26 by XL Recordings digitally, on CD, Deluxe CD, LP and Deluxe LP, and will feature artwork from longtime collaborator Stanley Donwood. You can pre-order direct from atomsforpeace.info.
The above article was posted on December 5th, 2012
Starting today, November 29th, 2012 at 7:00 AM PST, George Harrison’s YouTube page began streaming Concert For George. This amazing tribute concert was shot at The Royal Albert Hall in London on November 29th, 2002, ten years ago today and one year after George’s death in 2001. The show features Eric Clapton, who also served as musical director, along with Jeff Lynne (ELO), Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Ravi Shankar, Tom Petty, the Monty Python players and an incredible group of rock music’s dignitaries and visionaries, including of course George’s son Dhani Harrison on guitar.
Concert For George was directed by David Leland and produced by Ray Cooper, Olivia Harrison and Jon Kamen in aid of The Material World Charitable Foundation, which George founded and set up in 1973 with royalties received from the release of his album Living In The Material World and single “Give Me Love”.
This film is and hour and forty minutes of pure bliss for any music fan. For me, watching this film was akin to attending Mass in the Sistine Chapel. Not only is the musicianship and song selection superb, but the level of emotion emanating from the stage is incredible and undeniable. Many times during the performance it’s clear that the musicians are barely holding on to their smiles, with a deep sense of grief and loss still visible just below the surface.
The ending of Concert For George is particularly poignant and touching. It’s a song called “I’ll See You In My Dreams”, sung and played spectacularly on the ukulele by Joe Brown. Joe’s story in itself is amazing. He first met the Beatles back when all were kids and they were the opening act for his band, Joe Brown & The Bruvvers. Although Joe never achieved the international notoriety of his famous pals, he always remained close to them. You can see the look of wonder in Paul McCartney’s eyes as he sits behind the piano watching Joe sing and play “I’ll See You In My Dreams”.
I usually don’t get emotional when I watched films, but this one caught me right square on the chinny chin chin. By the end I found a tear or two rolling down my cheek. I was awash with melancholy, bittersweet feelings that left me ultimately feeling grateful, happy and content. I suppose maybe that was the message. The stream is offered for free for the next 24 hours only. So settle in tonight and watch this little gem of a film that was put together so meticulously by a group of friends and family sharing the same vision of tribute for such a wonderful songwriter, musician and human being known to us all as George Harrison.
The above article was posted on November 29th, 2012
Building off the success of their first major label debut I and Love and You, the Avett Brothers are back with their special mix of gut-wrenching vocals and banjo-filled “grasspunk” in a new album entitled The Carpenter. Yes, the banjo is back! The longevity and consistency should not be overlooked, as it doesn’t matter how many albums they’ve released, this band from North Carolina manages to exude the same level of free-spiritedness, forceful balladry, and a sense of optimism that infuses their rich and varied sound.
The Carpenter is the band’s second Rick Rubin-produced album and their passionate fan base will be pleased that the vocals of Seth and Scott Avett remain unencumbered by any one genre and they sing to their heart’s content by switching with ease from rollicking numbers to somber soliloquies. The Avett Brothers have to be one of the best bands when it comes to seamlessly transitioning from hard and soft, or fast and slow—not only between different songs but within one song as well.
Mortality and death are pervasive themes on this album and have become understandably more apparent in the music of the Avett Brothers, as bassist Bob Crawford has been dealing with the tragic news that his two-year-old daughter has brain cancer. For instance, on the song “The Once And Future Carpenter” they sing “And when the black cloak drags upon the ground/ I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember/ Well we’re all in this together/ If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Scott Avett commented the following: “As we get older, a lot of the things we said in the past that we thought we believed about understanding life or death, I don’t know that we understood them as well as we do now and I don’t know that we understand them now, but we’re closer to an understanding. The hard times with Bob and his daughter’s illness was something that we woke up to and changed our lives entirely.”
The Avett Brothers are masters at allowing the universality of the human condition – both good and bad – to shine through their music and The Carpenter is no different. We may be powerless in the face of so much of what life throws at us, but music can certainly made the ride a little easier.
The above article was posted on October 23rd, 2012
Tom Petty is auctioning off his personal 1996 Jaguar XJS Convertible starting today, October 11th, at 2:00 PM PST through e-bay. Click here for the auction. This flashy but classy automobile is something of a modern classic. Production of the XJS model Jaguar ended in 1996 after 21 years. Proceeds from the auction will go to Doctors Without Borders.
Tom recalls what the car means to him personally, saying “I have so many great memories associated with this car. When I began dating Dana (my wife) I asked her what her favorite car was. So, I phoned the office and said I wanted a Champagne convertible Jaguar XJS. The next day they delivered it to my house and showed me how everything worked and I took it for a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. I was in heaven, as was Dana. This car has such comfort, response and incredible design. My favorite car I ever owned. We sure are going to miss it.”
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. Today, Doctors Without Borders provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. MSF also reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols. In 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize.
The above article was posted on October 11th, 2012
Today Jack White hit us all hard enough to leave us black ‘n’ blue with double vision as he unleashed the brand new Dori Oskowitz-directed video for “I’m Shakin‘”. Jack’s cover of Little Willie John‘s classic ”I’m Shakin’” is the fourth single from his universally acclaimed debut album Blunderbuss (Third Man/Columbia).
Meanwhile, the Jack White live experience–described by The New York Times as “a down-home blues-rock honky-tonk heavy metal rave-up, with a joyful edge of hysteria”–continues to circle the globe, with North American headline dates running through most of the month and kicking off a series of overseas dates on Halloween in Dublin, Ireland. See below for more information.
And now, here is the video premiere of Jack White’s version of Little Willie John’s “I’m Shakin’”:
Jack White Tour Dates
10/09/12 – Atlanta, GA – Fox Theatre
10/10/12 – Jackson, TN – Carl Perkins Civic Center
10/12/12 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
10/13/12 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival
10/20/12 - Mountain View, CA – Bridge School Benefit Concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre
10/21/12 - Mountain View, CA – Bridge School Benefit Concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre
10/28/12 – New Orleans, LA – Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
10/31/12 – Dublin, Ireland – Dublin Arena
11/02/12 – London, UK – Alexandra Palace
11/03/12 – London, UK – Alexandra Palace
11/04/12 – Bridlington, UK – Bridlington Spa Theatre and Royal Hall
11/06/12 – Blackpool, UK – Blackpool Empress Ballroom Arena
11/07/12 – Birmingham, UK – Birmingham O2 Academy
11/08/12 – Edinburgh, UK – Usher Hall
The above article was posted on October 10th, 2012
With banjos blazing and foot-stomping galore, the English quartet Mumford & Sons are back with their highly anticipated second album Babel. Their gritty and triumphant take on folk rock has seen unparalleled success around the world in the past few years, which has consequently built high expectations for their follow up to the commercial success of Sigh No More. After all, it’s pretty hard to top a musical journey that has included playing at the Grammys with Bob Dylan and performing for President Barack Obama at the White House.
Blood, heartbreak, sin and redemption are prominent themes on Babel and a recurring feature in their songs is an exploration of striving to remain un-jaded and free of the cynicism that closes one off to the possibilities that life can offer in a very imperfect world. “Don’t let your heart grow cold” – sung on “Hopeless Wanderer” – is a refrain that pervades much of this band’s music, whether it is overt or not. Religious undertones are far more apparent in this album, but not to the point of distraction. An apt way to describe much of the material is that they are biblically-framed songs.
Babel is dark, emotionally gripping, and touches on vulnerability; it is also grounded in lauding humility and the simplicity of what matters most in life: love, in its many forms. In “Below My Feet” lead singer Marcus Mumford sings, “Keep the earth below my feet … let me learn from where I have been.”
“I will wait” is the first single off the album and it adheres to a similar formula that found the band so much success in the first place, with a dash of horns as well, much like “Winter Winds.” Many of the album’s songs rely on dramatic builds, which has become a staple of this band’s sound but in certain respects can be a little formulaic or clearly intended to rock out an arena. Then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The standout tracks on Mumford’s first album were the barnstormers and the high-octane tracks that particularly came alive when performed on stage. Notably, some of Babel’s most promising material lies in the quieter and more reflective tracks. For example, “Ghosts that we knew” and “Reminder” are simply beautiful. Overall, the album as a whole sounds a little less rootsy and ventures into hard rock territory more so than Sigh No More.
Many critics have been quick to dismiss the authenticity of this band or the so-called revivalism of folk under the guise of rock and bluegrass. However, this entirely misses the point of Mumford & Sons. This is a band that is clearly devoted to making good music, bringing people together through a shared love of tunes that have something to say, and simply put, having a good time with little in the way of serious pretensions. The point is don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Music needs this band in the mainstream to break up the monotony of pointless and trivial pop that swarms the airwaves.
I have seen this band perform live twice and have always been impressed by their stage craftsmanship, gratitude to their fans, good natured humor, and the camaraderie of four friends who don’t seem much changed by their huge success. Babel is sure to please new and old fans alike and build on the skyrocketing popularity that seems to have no bounds.
Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Project Rhythm Seed’s Free Music Friday. Today we are excited to offer you a full EP of remixes from Mayer Hawthorne. On a prior FMF last year we brought you his Impressions EP, a fabulous collection of cover tunes. That was a huge crowd favorite and is still available here.
This time around Mayer is giving away six remixes of tracks from his debut album How Do You Do. It’s a great collection of tracks that rival the catchiness and hit-ability of the original recordings. And if you already have the How Do You Do album, these six remixes are an excellent compliment to the collection. So download and enjoy them, and have a great weekend. We’ll see you next week for more music news for music fans.
The “retro soul” tag is added to almost any contemporary work that sounds like it was originally recorded before 1980, and Mayer Hawthorne is aware of how trends come and go. But, he says, he’s not interested in taking it back to the “good old days,” as much as he is in creating the “new good days.
On How Do You Do, his first major label effort for Universal Republic Records, Hawthorne proves that he is not part of a trend. The classic Motown sound that provided the blueprint for his self-produced independent debut, A Strange Arrangement, remains, but is joined on How Do You Do by music reminiscent of late 1960s California pop and the best work from the likes of Steely Dan and Chicago.
Hawthorne grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, and vividly remembers, as a child, driving with his father and tuning the car radio in to the rich soul and jazz history the region provided. “Most of the best music ever made came out of Detroit,” claims the singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, who counts Smokey Robinson and famed songwriting trio Holland, Dozier, Holland among his influences, but also draws inspiration from Michael McDonald, Juan Atkins and J Dilla.
“A lot of my other influences are coming out on this record,” Hawthorne says. “There are a lot of other genres that are blending in now. “It’s just turning into me.” We like that and we hope you do too. Here is Mayer Hawthorne’s How Do You Do Remixes EP:
In May 2011, Foxygen‘s Sam France and Jonathan Rado nervously handed off a CD-R of their homemade mini-opusTake the Kids Off Broadway to producer/multi-instrumentalist Richard Swift after his performance in a Lower East Side club. The duo, who had just mixed and burned the disc that very night, had been devotees of Swift’s outsider-pop oeuvre since high school, when they first began recording their own pubescent forays into oddball rock n’ roll (at least a dozen records were finished before they graduated high school).
Foxygen left the venue that night unsure whether Swift would truly listen or sling the disc into a dumpster on his way out. You’re reading this right now because he did listen. In fact, Swift flipped for Foxygen’s bugged out, esoteric majesty and called upon them immediately to say as much.
Eight months later, Foxygen holed up for a week-long recording session at Swift’s National Freedom studio, creating We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, a precocious and cocksure joyride across California psychedelia with a burning, bursting punk rock engine. Foxygen believes each song was a message of peace delivered from cosmic beings who used France and Rado as their messenger vessels.You can decide for yourself.
Barsuk Records has just released Menomena‘s video for “Plumage,” off their new album Moms. The video was directed by Trevor McMahan, who described the clip as “the ultimate illustration of the beautiful conflict in the band’s music – that aural struggle between instruments and ideas that is complex, satisfying, and always unmistakably Menomena.”
On the production of the video, he continues, “our crew weathered some serious acts of god during this production - including, but not limited to: a shooting, bomb squad evacuation, a news helicopter crash, thunderstorms, near electrocution by lightning (which can actually be seen in the last shot of the video), gale force winds, destroyed equipment, and flash flooding two shoot days in a row – and the video nearly missed seeing the light of day. It was almost as if Jesus did not want us to make this Menomena video. But apparently, we had more chest hair.”
Moms is the Portland-based band’s fifth album, and their first as a duo. The band is currently in the midst of their fall headlining tour, which features support from PVT. The tour will be followed by a European tour with support from Stacks, as well as an appearance at the revered All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in the UK.
The 2nd Law, the sixth album from UK-based trio Muse, hits stores today via Warner Bros. Records. The album’s single “Madness” is currently the Number One song at Alternative Radio, the band’s third song to reach the top position on the chart. This Saturday, October 6th 2012, the band will return to Saturday Night Live to perform two songs from The 2nd Law.
Muse is Matt Bellamy, Dominic Howard and Chris Wolstenholme. Since forming in 1994, they have released five studio albums selling upwards of 15 million albums worldwide. The group’s last album The Resistance reached Number 1 in 19 countries around the world, and won numerous awards including a Best Rock Album Grammy Awardhttp://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/ and an American Music Award for The Resistance. In July 2012 Muse’s song “Survival” was adopted as the official song of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Stay tuned for live dates to be announced in the coming weeks.
Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Project Rhythm Seed’s Free Music Friday. Today is a special edition for you, thanks to the good people at Paper Bag Records in Toronto, Canada. To celebrate their 10th anniversary concert series they asked many of their label artists and bands to pick a song from David Bowie’s quintessential album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and record it their way.
The end result is a compilation of all 11 original tracks on Ziggy Stardust. Artists include CFCF, Austra, Born Ruffians, P.S. I Love You, The Rural Alberta Advantage and more. Some of the tracks adhere closely to the original versions while some are completely different. The Luyas version of “Lady Stadust” bears absolutely no resemblance to the original version. What is created here is something totally new. But they all work when put together as a whole, and serve as a modern indie snapshot of a timeless 40 year old album.
As a bonus track they added a seldom heard Bowie tune called “John, I’m Only Dancing”, which was released in 1972 as a single in the UK. The song finally found its way on to ChangesOneBowie in 1976. On PBR’s version of Ziggy Stardust, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan lay down a reverb soaked version of “John, I’m Only Dancing” that has a great walking bass line and serves as an exclamation point to a very well done tribute album that even Bowie would enjoy.
You can listen to all of the tracks below. If you like them as much as we do you can download the whole album for the cost of an email address. Not a bad deal. Click hereto download direct from Paper Bag Records.
Ben Folds Five‘s new record, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind, has debuted at #10 in the Billboard Top 200 chart, making it the highest debut of the band’s career. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind is the groundbreaking pop trio’s fourth record and first in 13 years.
Ben Folds Five (Ben Folds – piano, Darren Jessee – drums, Robert Sledge – bass) were among the most distinctive and inventive bands of the alternative era, beloved for their kinetic live shows and piano-powered popcraft. Now, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind makes it plain that the years apart have only served to amplify the band’s already estimable gifts. Songs like the ebullient first single, “Do It Anyway,” or drummer Darren Jessee’s elegiac “Sky High” illustrate an increased subtlety as well as a soulfulness born of a truly inimitable group dynamic.
Folds, Jessee, and Sledge first united in 1994, drawing immediate notice for their sardonic smarts, high-energy harmonies and unstoppable melodies. In 1995, the band’s self-titled debut was rightfully hailed as a guitar-free pop oasis amidst the grungy industrial wasteland that was mid-90s rock. 1997′s Whatever And Ever Amen proved the trio’s popular breakthrough, with the landmark single, “Brick,” fueling worldwide sales in excess of 2 million. Where many bands would’ve happily stuck to the formula, in 1999 BFF returned with The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, an audacious and inventive collection that yielded still another milestone with the timeless “Army.”
Ben Folds Five amicably parted ways shortly after the 20th Century’s end, eager to explore fresh terrain after seven years of intense concentration on the band. In 2008, MySpace reached out to Folds, wondering whether the Five might consider reuniting for their Front To Back concert series.
“Nobody had ever asked us if we’d do anything, because they’d made the assumption that we wouldn’t,” Folds says. “I called Robert and Darren and they said, ‘Yeah, why not?’ It went really well and it opened our minds to the possibility of recording.”
The hometown performance – which saw the band playing Reinhold Messner in its entirety – reopened lines of communication and it wasn’t long before they reassembled to record a trio of tracks for Ben’s 2011 career-spanning anthology, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.
A full-on new album was approached with no little caution – “just to make sure this was something we all wanted to do,” says Folds – but the creative lure proved irresistible. In January 2012, Ben Folds Five assembled at Folds’ own Ben’s Studio (built in 1964 by Chet Atkins as the historic RCA Victor Nashville Sound Studios). They adopted a simple and classic method of recording, with piano, bass, and drums all within 10 feet of each other in the legendary studio’s big room. To allow for complete focus on the music, the band enlisted co-producer Joe Pisapia (Guster, k.d. Lang), who teamed with Folds’ longtime studio collaborator, engineer/mixer Joe Costa, behind the board.
Certainly among the most accomplished and enthusiastic records of their brilliant career, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind makes it crystal clear: the return of Ben Folds Five is most assuredly not an exercise in Nineties nostalgia. Rather, this dazzling collection stands as testament to a classic band’s revived – and enduring – creative partnership.
On September 17th, Ben Folds Five released the music video for single “Do It Anyway,” a collaboration with The Fraggles and Chris Hardwick‘s Nerdist Industries. After only 10 days, the video is already approaching a million views. Watch it below:
The above article was posted on September 27th, 2012
UK ska and pop band Madness have today announced details of their 10th studio album Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da, which will be released on October 30th, 2012. The band is also delighted to announce that the artwork for the album has been designed by the legendary British artist Sir Peter Blake. The first single, “My Girl 2” will be serviced to radio shortly.
Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da sees the band team up with a number of new producers, the first time in their illustrious career they have decided to do so, to create an album of incredible pop songs. Fans have already been given a taste of what is to come from the album with track “Death Of A Rude Boy” which was made available as a free download from their official site in August.
It has been an incredibly busy summer for the band; playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace, a number of high profile festivals and to millions of people at the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony. It has also been confirmed that they will appear at the iTunes Festival on September 27th. Madness are performing dates in the UK throughout Winter 2012 and are expected to tour the U.S. in early 2013.
Madness is Chris Foreman (Guitar), Mike Barson (Keyboards, pianos, vibraphone, and backing vocals), Lee Thompson, (Saxophone, percussion, and backing vocals), Chas Smash (Trumpet, backing vocals, dancing, acoustic guitar, bass guitar), Graham “Suggs” McPherson (Lead vocals), Daniel Woodgate (Drums, percussion), Graham Bush (Bass).
Track Listing For Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da
My Girl 2
Never Knew Your Name
How Can I Tell You
Death of A Rude Boy
Black and Blue
My Girl 2
The above article was posted on September 25th, 2012
November 13th will see the release of Live Kisses, a 13-song film directed by JonasÅkerlund, that captures the magic of an evening in February of this year. In the intimate surroundings of Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, where Paul McCartney recorded much of his Kisses On The Bottom album, he was reunited with the all-star musicians who joined him on the record to bring the songs to life for a once in a lifetime performance.
This was a concert unlike any Paul had given before. Without his Höfner bass in hand, Paul took his place behind the same microphone that has captured some of the most iconic voices in history to focus on his vocal delivery as he led the assembled A-list group of musicians through a collection of the standards he grew up listening to in his childhood, as well as his own original composition “My Valentine”.
Streamed live to the world online, Live Kisses marked the launch of Paul’s Kisses On The Bottom album. The film tells the story of how, with the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma, Diana Krall and her band, Paul created a critically acclaimed album, which featured guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder. The record represents a deeply personal journey through classic American compositions that a young Paul first heard his father perform on piano at home. Upon its release Kisses On The Bottom topped the US Billboard Jazz album chart at number 1, as well as charting top 5 all around the world.
On the night the all-star line up were reunited to include musical director Diana Krall (piano), John Clayton (bass), Karriem Riggins (drums), John Pizzarelli (guitar), Anthony Wilson (guitar), Mike Mainieri (vibraphone) and conductor Alan Broadbent. Tommy LiPuma and Al Schmitt resumed their roles in the studio and special guest musicians on the evening included Abe Laboriel Jr (from Paul’s touring band) on backing vocals and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. Walsh performed the “My Valentine” guitar solo originally recorded by Eric Clapton on the studio album.
The concert was performed just hours after Paul brought Vine Street in L.A. to a standstill as he was presented with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Capitol Records Building. The night of the concert (February 9th) was also the 48th anniversary of The Beatles’ U.S. TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The above article was posted on September 24th, 2012
Exitmusic have kindly shared a new video for their new single “The Modern Age“. The beautiful pastoral and haunting images from director Daniel Ryan fit smoothly with front woman Aleksa Palladino‘s emotionally drenched vocal.
Of the inspiration for the shoot, Palladino says, ”Devon and I spent a few years volunteering at wild life rescue centers and, despite all the best efforts of very knowledgeable and compassionate staff members, sometimes an animal would just die from the shock of being captured. Their bodies would shut down because they knew they were not free. It has always stayed with us. That’s where we got the idea for the video.”
Exitmusic will headline at dates across North America this fall, starting September 29 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ and ending with MoogFest in Asheville, NC on October 26. Following this run of North American dates the band will kickoff their overseas tour of Europe with a stop at Iceland’s Airwaves Festival before continuing on to the UK and EU. The full set of dates are listed below.
Exitmusic Tour Dates:
09/26/12 Hoboken, NJ – Maxwell’s
09/30/12 Montreal, QC – Casa del Popolo
10/01/12 Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
10/02/12 Cleveland , OH – Beachland Tavern
10/03/12 Chicago, IL – Subterranean
10/08/12 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
10/11/12 Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
10/12/12 Vancouver, BC – Media Club
10/13/12 Seattle, WA – Barboza w/ IO Echo
10/16/12 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
10/17/12 Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite
10/18/12 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
10/19/12 Phoenix, AZ – Trunk Space
10/21/12 Fort Worth, TX – Lola’s
10/22/12 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
10/23/12 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
10/24/12 New Orleans, LA – Circle Bar
10/25/12 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
10/26/12 Asheville, NC – Moog Fest
11/02/12 Reykjavik, IS – Iceland Airwaves
11/03/12 Amserdam, NL – London Calling
11/04/12 Paris, FR – L’Espace B
11/06/12 London, UK – The Lexington
11/07/12 Sheffield, UK – The Plug
11/08/12 Leeds, UK – Wharfe Chambers
11/09/12 Glasgow, UK – King Tuts
11/10/12 Dublin, IE – Whelans
11/12/12 Manchester, UK – The Castle
11/13/12 Brighton, UK – Green Door Store
11/14/12 Gent, BE – Vooruit
11/15/12 Opwijk, BE – Nijdrop
11/16/12 Cologne, DE – Studio 672
11/17/12 Munich, DE – Orangehouse
11/18/12 Berlin, DE – Magnet Club
11/19/12 Frankfurt, DE – Zoom
11/20/12 Hamburg, DE – Prinzenbar
The above article was posted on September 20th, 2012
Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) is preparing to release a documentary film called Sound City. It’s about a recording studio, but more specifically it’s about a mixing console that used to reside there. That’s right, but it’s not just any old console. This particular one was used to record some of the most significant albums in modern music. Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Guns and Roses, Nirvana, Metallica and many more swear that this is the holy grail of modern music. And they very well might be right.
It’s a Neve 8028 analog mixing console. It was built and installed in Sound City’s Studio A in 1972. Incorporated in 1969, Sound City recording studios were housed in a Van Nuys, California, facility that had previously been a showroom and recording studio of the British amplifier and guitar company, Vox. Since 1969, Sound City has contributed its signature analog sound to the recording or mixing of more than 100 certified gold and platinum albums.
Privately held since 1970, the studio closed as a commercial studio in May 2011 and is now reserved for the exclusive use of its tenants. Dave Grohl purchased the custom Neve 8028 in order to install the board at his private recording studio.
The late 1960s and early 1970s were a magical time for recording in Los Angeles. And Sound City was the musical hub. Even cult leader Charles Manson made some recordings in Studio B, just a few months before the Manson family crime spree in the summer of 1969.
Grohl’s own film company, Roswell Film, will release Sound City. No dates have been set yet for that release, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, here is a trailer for the film:
The above article was posted on September 19th, 2012
Currently streaming on NPR is a stunning live recording from the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. of French producer Anthony Gonzalez, aka M83. The band is currently on tour throughout the US (see below for dates).Their show is edgy and well crafted. The production is first rate and the musicianship displayed by the band is nothing short of phenomenal.
I caught a performance of M83 a few weeks ago at Bumbershoot in Seattle. The euphoria felt throughout the venue created havoc with security as hundreds of people tried to rush the stage. As soon as “Midnight City” began, there was no holding them back. It was one of the best shows I have seen in some time.
Catch this band live when you can. It’s certainly worth the price of admission. You can buy their album here.
M83 Tour Dates:
September 26th – The Filmore at Jackie Gleason – Miami Beach, FL
September 27th – House of Blues Orlando – Lake Buena Vista, FL
September 29th – The National – Richmond, VA
Septmber 30th – NorVA – Norfolk, VA
October 2nd – Hammerstein Ballroom – New York, NY
October 3rd – Hammerstein Ballroom – New York, NY
October 4th-Wellmont Theatre-Montclair, NJ
October 6th-Virgin Mobile FreeFest-Columbia, MD
October 7th – The Fillmore – Charlotte, NC
October 9th – House of Blues – New Orleans, LA
October 11th – Palladium Ballroom- Dallas, TX
October 12th – Austin City Limits Festival – Austin,TX
October 14th- Treasure Island Music Festival – San Francisco, CA
The above article was posted on September 18th, 2012
The Killers will be releasing their 4th studio album, Battle Born, tomorrow September 18th, 2012 on Island Records. Fans can stream it now via iTunes. Click here for more.
The Killers will also be hitting the road this winter with a full U.S. tour supporting Battle Born beginning after Thanksgiving. The dates see the band playing their fourth show at New York City’s prestigious Madison Square Garden, among other venues. Tegan and Sara will support on all dates, which are listed below.
Battle Born, named after the words emblazoned on the Nevada state flag, in addition to sharing its name with the band’s recording studio, is everything Killers fans have waited for since the band announced they would be taking a short hiatus at the start of 2010. BattleBorn,already being heralded as one of the most anticipated albums of 2012, is simply The Killers doing what they do best and then some: the choruses are grander, the guitars are heavier, the drums more powerful, the vocals more commanding – all sounding quintessentially Killers while sounding bigger and better than ever before. It is an album that, like its namesake and the band that created it, does not back down from its own strengths.
The Killers 2012 tour dates: 11/29/12 – Broomfield, CO @ 1st Bank Center
11/30/12 – Orem, UT @ UCCU Center
12/3/12 – Vancouver, BC @ Pacific Coliseum
12/13/12 – Camden, NJ @ Susquehanna Bank Center
12/14/12 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
12/15/12 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
12/17/12 – Boston, MA @ Agganis Arena
12/18/12 – Fairfax, VA @ Patriot Center at George Mason University
12/20/12 – Ypsilanti, MI @ EMU Convocation Center
12/21/12 – Chicago, IL @ UIC Pavilion
12/28/-29/12 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Watch the video for “Runaways”, the first single from Battle Born:
The above article was posted on September 17th, 2012
Welcome to another edition of Project Rhythm Seed’s Free Music Friday. Today we have two great new tracks for you. The first is from B. Fleischmann, an Austrian multi-instrumentalist, and it’s called “I’m Not Ready For The Grave Yet” off of his upcoming Morr Music release of the same name. The second track is from a drummer turned singer/guitarist called Bryan John Appleby. The track is “The Rider, The Horse, The Land” and it’s from his debut album titled Fire On The Vine.
We hope you enjoy this week’s free tracks and we look forward to bringing you more music news for music fans next week.
B.Fleischmann aka Bernhard Fleischmann has debuted the first single from his new album, I’m Not Ready For The Grave Yet, out November 6 with Morr Music. In his forthcoming release, the Austrian multi-instrumentalist has put an emphasis on vocals, and after previously collaborating with other voices, here for the first time only his vocals are heard. B.Fleischmann will make a special one-off appearance in NYC tomorrow Saturday, September 15, previewing the new tracks at the Austrian Cultural Forum’s Moving Sounds Festival. The event features pioneering artists who specialize in electronically generated music.
Following his 2011 release M/Mikro_Kosmos, I’m Not Ready For The Grave Yet is an honest survey by a man who looks into the future, a man who’s trying to translate suicidal longing for freedom into rather wild and yet more comprehensible instrumental terms. The album deals with difficult topics such as mortality, ticking clocks, and the elusiveness of all existence, all while B.Fleischmann is breaking new sonic ground. Focusing more on beats, rhythms, percussive elements and pushing things onward, the tracks range from rough around the edges to soft and mellow. The opposing elements make for just the right balance between sonic experiment and developed song structures. Here is “I’m Not Ready For The Grave Yet”:
Bryan John Appleby
Bryan John Appleby wasn’t always interested in writing his own music. In reality, he was a drummer by trade, relocating to Seattle from sunny Santa Cruz, California in order to take music more seriously with his band at the time. After the disintegration of the group, Bryan was left to make a decision. Was he to continue his pursuit of drumming or was it time for him to carve out his own piece of the Seattle music scene? With an acoustic guitar in hand, Bryan started writing and performing his own style of novel inspired folk music around the city. After releasing his first EP Shoes for Men and Beasts, Bryan gained some local attention when he released his first live take away performance for the single “Cliffs Along The Sea” which you can watch here.
Soon after, Bryan released his full length album Fire on the Vine in 2011. A handful of sold out shows later, Bryan has shared the stage with the likes of Damien Jurado, Deep Sea Diver, Pickwick, Lemolo and The Head & The Heart. Bryan continues to play his unique style of story driven folk ballads, winning over new audiences at every show. Here is Bryan’s song “The Rider, The Horse, The Land”: