Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's New(s)?

"Sheezus" season approaching

As lazily named as Lily Allen's new album Sheezus might be, the title-track and accompanying video are anything but. The track itself feeds on crisp drum claps and soft "ah ah ahs", while the clip is overstuffed with blacklights, squiggling white lines, and psychedelic swirls. At one point Allen appears to be freely floating in a star-cluster and she becomes a spot-on Avatar character while crooning "Periods. We all get periods." And if all of that weren't enough, she big ups other colossal female musicians like Beyonce, Lorde, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga who she refers to as a "martyr." 

Sheezus is out May 5 through Regal Recordings.

Joey Bada$$ pays tribute to the UFC with "Mr. Wonderful"


Given 19-year old Brooklyn native Joey Bada$$'s penchant for laid-back boom-bap, you wouldn't expect him to be the type to pay homage to a UFC fighter. But that's exactly what he's done with "Mr. Wonderful", which tips a cap to light-heavyweight brawler Phil Davis.
"Mr. Wonderful" doesn't just mention Davis in passing, it revolves entirely around the "number one contender" and how he'll "hit you with the flying kick." While it's fascinating enough to hear Bada$$ stick to one narrative for an entire song, it's much more interesting to hear Kirk Knight's beat which jabs in a way Bada$$ efforts generally don't.

Davis will fight Anthony Johnson at UFC 172 on April 26 and will be using "Mr. Wonderful" as his entrance music for the bout.

tUne-yArDs pays tribute to Pee-Wee's Playhouse in new video

Merrill Garbus' work as tUnE-yArDs has consistently towed the line between in control and chaotic for two albums now, so what better way to capture that near-chaos than to pay tribute to one of the masters of the art-form, Peewee Herman? In the video for the clattering "Water Fountain", the lead single off of third LP Nikki Nack, Garbus recreates the cult-classic TV series Pee-Wee's Playhouse

In Garbus' take multi-armed puppets, dog-man chefs, one-eyed monsters, robots, fanged couches, and mad scientists are freely roam around without much interference. Sadly there's no pterodactyls, genies, or mail-carriers to be found, but the video is just as joyous as any trip to the Playhouse would be. So pull yourself up a chair and enjoy.

Check back tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

"Do It Again"- Robyn and Röyksopp

As a "First Listen" on the PopOnAndOn site, Swedish dance-pop singer Robyn's collaborative work "Do It Again" with Norwegian electronic-duo Röyksopp is also filed in the "perfect pop" category. Which on first take feels like a lofty proclamation. By bandying about the phrase "perfect pop" you're setting yourself up for a massive uphill-battle from the word "go." In issuing that decree, you're saying that there isn't a visible stitch or seam. “Perfect pop” means that every piece of the puzzle snaps together with relative ease.

Without being hyperbolic, "Do It Again" skirts near "perfect pop." The title-track to the pairing's upcoming EP; "Do It Again" is a dancefloor burner that leaves no one unscathed. When the word "pulsating" comes up in discussing dance tracks, "Do It Again" is the sort of track that should be described. Every bass hit and mechanized ripple supplied by Röyksopp feels primed to leap out of a chest cavity. With the shifting electronic bed they provide, there's never time to rest up. When a ripple stills itself, a dense cloud of synthesizers comes out to soak you. By continuously transitioning, there's no time to find a wrinkle in the fabric (not that one exists).

And instead of running out of breath from trying to keep up, Robyn is remarkably comfortable in this environment. "As soon as it’s done, we'll just do it again," she coolly sings. For her, the challenge of keeping it up isn't something to fear, but a thing to relish. Like Romanthony on "One More Time" she's begging for another shot to lose control. She’s praying to forget the "moment before" and the moment after. The chance will come again, as long as you're willing to wait for the buildup.

(You can hear "Do It Again" here now, courtesy of PopOnAndOn, along with "Every Little Thing". The EP is out 5/26 on Dog Triumph through Wall Of Sound/Cooking Vinyl.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What's New(s)?

Damon Albarn drops video for Brian Eno feature "Heavy Seas of Love"

Earlier today Damon Albarn made his debut solo effort Everyday Robots available for streaming through iTunes Radio and to promote the move he's released the video for Brian Eno-feature "Heavy Seas of Love". While the Matt Cronin-edited clip doesn't include the ambient-pioneer, it does incorporate plenty of shots of wide-eyed traveling and not so subtle psychedelia. Like the ambling track itself it doesn't bowl you over, but it is relaxed enough to calm you down. 

Everyday Robots is out April 28 via Parlophone/Warner Bros.


Jamie xx releases new song "Girl" from upcoming single

Almost a month ago, The xx's beatmaker Jamie xx dropped the profoundly silent "Sleep Sound" as part of an upcoming double A-side 12" record. Then dubstep-crooner James Blake released the record's other half "Girl" during his BBC Radio show; albeit with talking piled on top of the track. Now the track has officially been released by Jamie xx and its an absolute monster. For all of the stark silence of "Sleep Sound", "Girl" is brimming with warped vocal samples, hair-raising electronic tics, and dying drum machine beats. Whatever sliver of comfort the already tense "Sleep Sound" had to offer is gone on "Girl".

"Girl"/"Sleep Sound" is out May 5 via Young Turks, and you can find the audio for "Girl" below along with the deeply affecting clip for "Sleep Sound".

Chromatics & Glass Candy's Johnny Jewel Scoring Ryan Gosling's directorial debut

As much as I love Cliff Martinez's alternately bright and foreboding soundtrack for the 2011 pulp-masterpiece Drive, I can't help but wonder how it would've sounded in the hands of Italians Do It Better-founder Johnny Jewel. Though Jewel's band Chromatics had a feature on the soundtrack, Jewel was originally slated to craft the entire score until interests diverged and Martinez stepped in. And while Jewel's fascinating Themes for An Imaginary Film strongly hints at what might've been, it's not entirely satiating. 
All of that will change next month when Drive-star Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River, premieres at the Cannes Film Festival. The film which the L.A. Times summarizes as "A single mother enters a dark lifestyle, while her son uncovers a road leading to an underwater utopia," was entirely scored by Jewel, who is also working on a new Glass Candy record.

No word yet on when the score/soundtrack will be releasing, but odds are it will be a worthwhile listen. While you wait, enjoy the video for Chromatics' mesmerizing "Cherry".

Check back tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

Track Attack- "I Wanna Be Adored" (The Stone Roses)

The immediate assumption upon hearing Stone Roses' vocalist Ian Brown exhale "I don't have to sell my soul, he's already in me" over Mani's steadily humming bassline and John Squire's fibrous guitar is that he's speaking of some Satanic act. That Brown has traveled out to a dusty crossroads in the middle of night and traded everything for something as contrived as "stardom." Tired of being relentlessly pursued by the green monster, he's given in to its clawed embrace. A road to riches may lead straight to the bowels of hell for Brown, but he's willing to roll the dice anyhow.

And that's precisely the interpretation that you'll find scattered across websites like Songmeanings. Many are convinced that the Manchester-quartet, who had yet to reach world-conquering status, was hypnotized by the spotlight before the show had even begun. So when Ian Brown's repeating his need to "be adored," his focus is squarely on prospective fans. The reading remains viable until you consider just how much the entire band seemed to hate many of the trappings of fame, particularly the press.

But more than an outward disdain for journalists, its Ian Brown's inner-desperation that signals his true motivation. While fame can loom large in a person's life, it's hard to imagine the obsession being so overwhelming that you'd call out to the dark-lord for help. Not to mention such bids are rarely done in quietude. Throughout much of "I Wanna Be Adored" Brown's voice struggles to rise above a whisper. Hearing Brown make those opening confessions of "I wanna be adored" are agonizing, but also illuminating. The desire is far more "simplistic" than stardom. In reality, all Brown longs for is to belong. The "adoration" doesn't need to be excessive fawning or incessant praise, an "I love you" or a "good night" will suffice. Those brief statements speak volumes because they show that you are not alone. They're unimpeachable proof that life has a point; to connect. Without connections, everyone would be toiling away in isolation until the end of time. Yes, on a base level connections bring us together, but they also give us a sense of purpose. The type of purpose Brown insatiably craves. 

Over the course of The Stone Roses LP, Ian Brown is able to find that purpose. In the infectious "She Bangs the Drums" he locates a love who can "describe the way I feel." John Squire's punctuated guitar blasts in "(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister" provide Brown with room to lie down next to a "candy floss girl." A girl he can wake up to the sun with. Even "I Am the Resurrection", anchored by Reni's rallying drum part, is based on the premise Brown's character was once in love. Sure he now struggles to "hate you as I'd like," but those frayed lines still lead somewhere. "I Wanna Be Adored" is a lone outlier on the album, the one without any kind of connection.

The narrative of "I Wanna Be Adored" isn't all that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the album. John Squire's guitar tone on the track is closer to a cobweb than it is a jangle. As self-assured as it grows during the climactic solo, Squire's guitar still draws circles in the dirt floor of an abandoned basement. It reinforces what is going on instead of freeing you from it. The same can be said of Mani's bass playing which locks into a subtle chug and never strays far from the groove. Reni's content to ride hi-hat tics and snare hits off into an uncertain sunset. Where much of The Stone Roses firmly places the band in the danceable Madchester-scene they helped put on the map, "I Wanna Be Adored" heads for broody ground.  A land where few dare to change course for fear of reprisal.  Remarkably, Brown's the one who turns most drastically in "I Wanna Be Adored". By the end his hushed request has grown into a near roar of "I wanna, I gotta be adored." Some things can't wait forever and Brown's universal request belongs in that class.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What's New(s)?

Broken Bells announce tour

Much of After the Disco, The Shins' James Mercer and Danger Mouse's second LP as Broken Bells, was a dancefloor affair for the melancholic set and now that disco-ball melancholia will be hitting the road. Partnering with the B612 Foundation, the duo will be giving one dollar from every ticket sold on the summer tour to the Sentinel Mission, a program that aims to "protect Earth while preparing for future exploration." An overview on B612's site expands on the program's aim, "Sentinel is a space-based infrared (IR) survey mission to discover and catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the solar system." All of which fits perfectly with the album's space-centric videos. Dates for the tour can be found below.

Tour Dates:
6/7 Randall’s Island, NY - Governor’s Ball Music Festival
6/12-15 Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo
6/16 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
6/18 Detroit, MI - Majestic Theatre
6/19 Columbus, OH - The LC Indoor Pavillion
6/20 Louisville, KY - Iroquois Amphitheater
6/21-22 Dover, DE - Firefly Festival
8/1 Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza
8/3 Minneapolis, MN - State Theater
8/4 Winnipeg, Manitoba - Burton Cummings Theatre
8/6 Calgary, Alberta - Jack Singer Concert Hall
8/7 Edmonton, Alberta - Winspear Centre
8/8-9 Squamish, British Columbia - Squamish Festival
8/10 Seattle, WA - Moore Theatre
8/11 Portland, OR - Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall


American Football reuniting for first shows in 15 years

The term "emo-revival" has considerably high cache right now, so there's seemingly no better time for original 90s emos bands to reunite. Which is precisely what Champaign-Urbana's American Football is doing this fall. On May 20 the trio of Mike Kinshella, Steve Lamos, and Steve Holmes is reissuing a deluxe edition of American Football, their sole LP via Polyvinyl

To promote the record the band will be performing in their hometown as part of the Pygmalion Music Festival, before heading to New York in mid-October. In discussing the trio's intent for reuniting, guitarist Steve Holmes said, "Obviously, we knew the time was ripe for three middle aged dudes to play some old songs about teenage feelings, and stand around tuning guitars for a long time."

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Pygmalion Music Festival and will also feature performances from: Chvrches, Panda Bear, Real Estate, Sun Kil Moon, Deafheaven, Speedy Ortiz, and more. While you wait for that, check out the band's dates along with their aching 1998 single "Five Silent Miles".

Reunion Dates:
9/28 Urbana-Champaign, IL - Pygmalion Music Festival
10/11 New York, NY - Webster Hall

Check back tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s) and follow AllFreshSounds on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

"Tree of Life"- Ab-Soul

"Breathe easy," Black Hippy member Ab-Soul stutters over the whooshing airplane intro of his latest release "Tree of Life". As a musical commandment, it's nearly impossible to keep. Even more than fellow Hippies Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul is absolutely suffocating. By the time the assonance-heavy "It's my turn, Mr. LongTerm of turmoil
I'm holdin' up the terminal takin' flicks," fully uncoils you're left breathless on the floor clawing skyward for any sort of relief. Similar to efforts from the Wu's headiest member GZA, an Ab-Soul track is a subtle barrage. The jibing "I got most of you mothaf****s stumped, rap like I go to church with work in the trunk," feels like a wild flail until later in the day when you spot a redwood-sized welt on your chest.

In truth, much of the foliage-centered "Tree of Life" has a writhing-quality to it. Frequent collaborator Curtiss King's hollowed out boom-bap provides Soul with ample room to flex and he explores every corner of the shadowy production. He shuffles from the Travelodge to the W "just to shower," a terrific humblebrag elucidating the long distance he's traveled in a short amount of time and what the trip now affords him. Venturing down another one of Soul's backroads, we see him mixing enough lean to "give Sprite's stock a boost." And in that subdued state, Ab-Soul's caught thumbing through "Benjamins" while pondering "photosynthesis." He's so hyper-focused that Joey Bada$$'s "world domination" interlude drifts by as a relative afterthought. "I hope you get the analogy," Ab-Soul wishes near the end. If anyone does, it won't be easy.

"Tree of Life" may appear on Ab-Soul's upcoming Longterm 3 mixtape.

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Descent"- Fear of Men

Dream-pop trio Fear of Men make relationships sound absolutely torturous. When they're gliding along on the sunny fizzles and fuzzes of "Luna", Janet Weiss hits the E-brake to whisper "I've tried my best to destroy you." Whatever goals the couple once had have deteriorated into a competition fueled by stubborn pride and a profound unwillingness to see the writing on the wall. In writhing slow-number "Outrun Me", unwillingness is transcribed into a refusal to leave behind something wholly familiar. Experiencing love for the first time is a magnificent thing, but having to move on can be agonizing. It's devastating, and only in that wreckage do you realize the cliché "you never forget your first" exists for a reason.

The devastation on display in the Brighton-group's latest effort "Descent", is far more subtle but no less monumental. When Weiss softly exhales "cause I have you" in the sparkling chorus, you think you're hearing of an unshakable friendship that James Taylor and Carole King would approve of. The type of friendship that puts you closest to your actual-self, where there's very little you have to hide. A friend who will pull you out of "nothingness" as Weiss puts it in the jangly intro. It sounds so blissful, something anyone would sign up for in an instant. But few would sign on the dotted line after hearing Weiss recount "spending half my life next to you." All of the time spent is taxing, to the point Weiss can't even finish her thought; she can only offer a disconsolate "oooh." Then you realize a life-long relationship isn't always liberating, it can also be a prison sentence you never come back from. You'll watch the days go by, marking them off in chalk, and pray for anything to take you away.

Fear of Men's debut LP Loom is out April 21 in the UK and April 22 in the U.S. through Kanine Records.