Monday, September 26, 2011

You've Got a Nerve"

Since yesterday, I’ve had “The Rat” by New York indie rockers The Walkmen burrowed deep in my head. I get songs caught in my head all the time, but most flee from me in a short while. No matter how much I loved the song at the time, when I’ve had my fill it’s as if the song never existed. However, with this shuddering piece of modern garage rock, I am at lost for what to do. The more I hit repeat, the more I long for the song’s cold embrace, the more I begin see to the song for what it is. It’s a song worthy of the high-praise it has seen since its 2004 release, a song that’s one of the greatest tracks of the 2000s.

Even after all of these replays, I’m still hard-pressed to pinpoint just what this song is about. Sure I have an idea; it’s hard to hear that roaring start, those propulsive drums, and the scathing singing of Hamilton Leithauser and not form at least a rough-sketch. Within the song’s walls, Leithauser immediately identifies himself as a man who has been wronged, filled to the brim with bile, “you’ve got a nerve to be asking a favor,” but just what or who has he been wronged by? Is he a jilted lover who’s had it up to here with the beckoning of an old flame? Have all his friends left him high and dry? The line “when I used to go out, I’d know everyone I saw,” seems to lend credence to these theories, but Leithauser is just cryptic enough to avoid being caught. Musically, Leithauser’s weariness in the song’s bridge matched by the downturn in the raucous instrumentation is the lone respite we as listeners are given throughout this four-minute emotional hurricane.

It’s this emotion, more than any other ingredient that makes the song so successful. Few songs come to mind from the 2000s that are more candid. Many of the potential candidates come up short because they give up too much to us as listeners. Leithauser however is self-effacing and contemptuous of society as whole without ever coming across as heavy-handed. Were he to critique himself anymore, he would shoot from emotional to emo, a term that in music today is often a pejorative of great magnitude.  Leithauser avoids such trife by calling himself a ghost, “can’t you see me” while also knowing when to fold his hand and call it a day, “I go out alone if I go out at all." In the hands of less confident band, the track would’ve either wallowed in this presupposed pity or reveled in this “us against them” attitude that loiters at the song’s door. The Walkmen however do none of this, they are contented to spend their last few breaths screaming that piercing question so many of ask when we feel we’ve been drowned out, “can’t you hear me?” In the case of “The Rat,” yes we can hear and we won’t soon forget.  

"The Rat"- Bows + Arrows

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Drake Care

On Friday, Drake posted the cover art for his highly anticipated sophomore album: Take Care. Along with the artwork, Drake posted a message explaining his behind reasoning behind the decision. Throughout the summer, the Canadian-based rapper has released several well-received songs such as the low-key "Marvin's Room," and the massively successful "Headlines." No official tracklist has been posted yet, so stay tuned for more information.

"Marvin's Room"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's the End of R.E.M. As We Know It

Earlier today, it was announced via their website that alt-rock's elder statesmen R.E.M. are calling it quite after more than 30 years together. The announcement undoubtedly comes as shock to many fans considering R.E.M. put out an album earlier this year, Collapse Into Now that many felt was their strongest in over a decade.

Starting with 1983's Murmur, R.E.M. came to encapsulate the entire sound of college/alternative rock. After five well-received indie releases, the band made the jump to Warner Bros. where they exploded into the mainstream off the success of Automatic for the People, which spawned six singles including "Man on the Moon," and "Everybody Hurts." Original drummer Bill Berry left the group in 1997, reducing the group to a trio in a move that many saw as the "end of the band." However, the band soldiered on for an astounding 14 more years before making this announcement today. In an interview, Kurt Cobain himself once said, "I don’t know how that band does what they do. God, they’re the greatest. They’ve dealt with their success like saints, and they keep delivering great music." As for the band, lead-singer Michael Stipe had this to say, "A wise man once said--'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' "

"Everybody Hurts"- Automatic for the People

"It's The End of the World As We Know It"- Document

"Man on the Moon"- Automatic for the People

"Losing My Religion"- Out of Time

"Nightswimming" (live)- Automatic for the People

The Classic Lineup

This morning, announced that lo-fi rock gods Guided by Voices will be releasing their first album since disbanding in 2004. Not only that, but the album is set to feature the bands "classic lineup" of: Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos, Mitch Mitchell, and Kevin Fennell. This particular iteration of Guided by Voices last worked together on 1996's vastly underrated Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. The new album, entitled Let's Go Eat the Factory is due for a January 1, 2012 and will be greatly anticipated by anyone in the GBV camp.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cut It Short, Break It Down

"Weed-Rapper" Domo Genesis from the Odd Future crew dropped his mixtape entitled Under the Influence. Appropriately enough, the tape was made available at exactly 4:20 pm Pacific time today. The new release features a mix of older beats from other artists, with a few new peppered throughout., and features Casey Veggies in addition to OF mastermind Tyler, the Creator. There's the link below, as well as the tracklist.

I Dreamt of That Sound

Alternative-folk singer Iron & Wine took to the stage this past Saturday at the Austin City Limits festival. The set featured several cuts from his 2011 album Kiss Each Other Clean, including "Walking Far from Home," a video for which can be found below. Enjoy the clip, which is one of my favorite songs of the year so-far and almost destined to be in my annual "Top Tracks of the Year," list.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Up from the 36 Chambers

This past Friday, it was announced that deceased Wu-Tang Clan member Ol' Dirty Bastard's debut solo album would be given the deluxe set treatment. According to, the re-release will include the remastered Return to the 36 Chambers, as well as an additional disc and a bevy of collectibles. The release is pegged for November 22 and can be found on GetOnDown. In the mean time, enjoy this clip from the album's first single "Brooklyn Zoo."

New Frank Ocean Video

 Brand new video from Odd Future affiliate, Indie R&B sensation Frank Ocean. The video is for the song "Swim Good," off of Ocean's free mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. There's a clip from the video down below, as well as the link. No word yet on when the mixtape will see official release, let this tie you over until then.

Oh Jens

It's been four years since Swedish pop singer Jens Lekman put out an album, 2007's critically adored Night Falls Over Kortedala, but that all changes tomorrow. The indie artist's new EP An Argument with Myself will be released on the Secretly Canadian imprint, but is still available for streaming on the label's SoundCloud account. Below is a list of Lekman's US tour dates, as well as live clip of Lekman performing an acoustic take of "Waiting for Kirsten."

09/28/11 Hollywood, CA - Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
09/29/11 San Francisco, CA - California Academy of Sciences w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/01/11 Seattle, WA - Columbia City Theater w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/03/11 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/05/11 Washington, DC - 6th & I Historic Synagogue w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/06/11 Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia Ethical Society w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/07/11 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg - SOLD OUT w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/08/11 Boston, MA - Somerville Armory w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/09/11 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg - SOLD OUT w/ Geoffrey O'Connor
10/10/11 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg

How Soon?

As of last week, Rhino Records has begun to take orders for the massive Smiths boxset coming out in October. The set, simply titled Complete will feature all four studio albums by The Smiths, as well as a smattering of compilation cuts, b-sides, and live tracks. Still no word on anything even resembling a reunion, but Smiths fans can still hope right?

 The Smiths- "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" The Queen is Dead

New Domo Genesis

Odd Future's perpetual stoner Domo Genesis recorded this cut for his new mixtape Under the Influence, which drops tomorrow. The cut appeared on Shade 45 this past Thursday and features Genesis rapping over Mobb Deep's "Hell on Earth." There's the download link below.