Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's New(s)?

David Bowie debuts new video

James Murphy's near 10-minute remix of David Bowie's "Love is Lost" is a mammoth clattering track, and now the song has a fittingly epic video to accompany it. Shot on a low-budget befitting the Blair Witch Project ($13 according to Bowie), the video features the shape-shifting star playing with a series of disturbing puppets, before becoming a bloodied up one himself. In short, it provides the perfect ghastly experience for a Halloween celebration.

The 3-disc deluxe edition of David Bowie's The Next Day is out next Tuesday November 5 via Columbia.

Superchunk cover the Misfits

Keeping up with today's ghoulish theme, Merge-founders Superchunk have provided a cover of the mangled Misfits classic "Children in Heat". That's bassist Laura Ballance in the artwork, rocking the Misfits signature devilock look and turning in a raucous performance with cohorts Mac McCaughan, Jim Wilbur, and Jon Wurster. McCaughan can't quite reach Danzig's punker meets rockabilly vocal approach, but he performs an admirable snarl; his heart firmly in his throat. 

Superchunk's cover comes free to anyone who signs up for Or Thousands of Prizes, a 7-inch set celebrating Merge's 25th anniversary and featuring music by:The Mountain Goats, Destroyer, Lambchop, and more. You'll also receive a box to place your set in, so what more could you ask for?

Today's an abbreviated day in news because I still have fiendish plans to hatch before night falls on this Halloween. To enjoy the spooktacular in style, enjoy psychedelic-originator Roky Erickson's great "I Walked with a Zombie" here.

"Lost Boys and Girls Club"- Dum Dum Girls

Dee Dee Penny's Dum Dum Girls project began in earnest, staking a claim on lo-fi pop songs unable to keep up their breakneck pace for longer than three minutes. In the early stages, Penny's voice cut through the static like a dull knife; too soft to stake its own claim but far too sharp to embrace. As the song lengths reached for more ambitious heights, her voice settled into melancholic croon, channeling the spirit of the girl-pop past she often idealized. This settling in after such a momentous early pace made perfect sense. The growing pains that were the subject of so many songs were essentially avoided.

New single "Lost Boys and Girls Club" attempts to find harmony between these disparate strains. Every one of Penny's lines leisurely spills forth, frequently bleeding into one another until a beginning and end is impossible to pinpoint. Guitars don't chug along (as they used to), but slowly churn in a dark cauldron. The drum part never rights itself from a lumbering pace. Swipes of synthesizer (a newcomer to the band's insular world) color the track a hazy grey, making Penny's forlorn state a few shades darker in the process. All of this hints at a broodier Dum Dum Girls, lingering like never before. Almost as a callback to that bracing past, "Lost Boys and Girls Club" ends after a scant two minutes. Some things never change.

The band's third LP Too True is out January 29 through Sub-Pop.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Listen and Wait"- Grizzly Bear

A great trick of Grizzly Bear's output (particularly on the twin peaks of Veckatimest and last year's Shields) is their ability to cleverly recast their folksy-origins as arena-ready stompers. Drums frequently thunder and basses rumble, but underneath that raging exterior exists a carefully considered beauty. Where those brash instruments come and go as they please (like inconsiderate troubadours), ragged acoustic guitars remain long after the lights have been turned off. Pianos play for no one, ringing out of a haunted house.

"Listen and Wait" from the forthcoming Shields B-Sides album retains this great sleight-of-hand. A jaunty piano part and enjoined vocal figure enjoy their surroundings for 8 seconds before a cavernous drum slams the door on the proceedings. Admonishments to keep "careful" fight for space with a rippling synthesizer background. What registers as a bike-bell futilely attempts to escape the dark monsters cued by the rhythm section. Grizzly Bear's pastoral beauty and childlike-innocence is framed within the larger context of a decaying landscape. By the end, the artifice disappears and what once seemed a magnificent structure reveals itself to be a dilapidated building with a fresh coat of paint.

The Shields Expanded and Shields B-Sides editions are out 11/12 through Warp.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's New(s)?

James Blake remixes Drake


Anyone who worried the 2011 mash-up James Drake was just a lark, can now rest easy knowing that Blake (a recent performer at Drake's OVO Fest) has remixed the Toronto-rapper. The original "Come Thru" rode a steady clap and unobtrusive synth through memories of sleeping on basement floors. In the outro, Drake settled on the accusatory "where have you been tonight?" his tender crooning barely concealing a hint of contempt. 

Blake's remix gives the claps a greater crispiness and his fluttering electronic accoutrements provide a sense of paranoia found nowhere on the original. Here "girl you got that thing" goes from misplaced compliment to borderline predatory. If nothing else, the remix proves Drake's lingering "nice-guy" personae is as much a product of the music as anything. 

James Blake's been having an excellent year with rapper collaborations and you can see his still great teaming with Chicago spitballer Chance the Rapper here


Action Bronson announces Blue Chips 2

Action Bronson & Party Supplies anything goes Blue Chips mixtape was one of the best releases of 2012, and now that YouTube ripping, Ken Caminiti namechecking, everything but the kitchen sink approach continues in 2013. The heavily-anticipated Blue Chips 2 drops November 1 through Vice/Atlantic and like the first installment is 100% free. First-cut "Practice" borrows Allen Iverson's infamous "we talking about practice?" clip and lets the eternal braggart Bronson cross-over the competition with every rhyme. Check out the song and tracklist below, and head here for the insane promo trailer which features a mafioso Bronson in 1995 barking threats at Patrick Ewing.   

1. "Silverado"  
2. "Intro" ft. Big Body Bes
3. "Pepe Lopez"  
4. "The Don's Cheek"
5. "It Concerns Me"  

6. "Practice"  
7. "Jackson & Travolta" ft. Meyhem Lauren  
8. "Through The Eyes Of A G" ft. Ab-Soul  
9. "Contemporary Man"
10. "Twin Peugots" ft. Big Body Bes & Mac Miller
11. "Man & The Mirror"
12. "Midget Cough"
13. "It's Me"
14. "Flip Ya" ft. Retchy P
15. "9.24.13" ft. Big Body Bes
16. "Rolling Thunder" 

17. "Amadu Diablo"
18. "In The City" ft. Jeff Woods
19. "I Adore You"

Sufjan Stevens shares home recording

Lately when he's not offering Miley Cyrus free grammar lessons, Sufjan Stevens has been on a bit of a giving streak, proving his generosity extends past the holiday season. This latest freebie, entitled "Jamila" was recorded in 1998 (by Stevens recollection) on a four-track recorder for Stevens' sister, nearly two years before his debut A Sun Came dropped. Stevens motivation for releasing the homespun track so far removed from recording? To wish his sister a belated happy birthday of course.

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s).

In Revue- "Fade Away"

Early into barreling opener "This Lonely Morning", Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino half-sneers over rippled power-chords and a 1-2 drum beat "the haze is on my mind, I'm running from myself this time." In the midst of a song preoccupied by escaping "the waiting", the line is perfectly logical. No one wants "sameness" constantly following them, if there's anything to truly be afraid of its monotony. And it's those feelings of "sameness", of jogging in place, that Best Coast attempt to escape on new "mini-album" Fade Away.

Sophomore LP The Only Place dodged criticisms of being "slick" and inert, many believing Jon Brion's production work stymied Best Coast's whirlwind pace. While Brion increased Crazy for You’s fidelity, he knew when to steer clear. Frequently Brion opted for the subtle flourish of a twinkling xylophone or stereo-panning guitar over some grand makeover. Leading up to the release, Cosentino neatly summarized Fade Away, "kind of it you took Crazy for You and the Only Place and created a baby out of them." Fade Away is that offspring, embracing former’s ragged place while finding value in the latter's careful consideration.

The increased musicianship The Only Place hinted at is further developed here. An entreating tambourine on countdown "Fear of My Identity" widens Best Coast’s percussive palate. Closer "I Don't Know How" unfurls as a ballad, with the start-stop rhythm section adding to Cosentino's confusion. After a dour first minute, it collapses. Ticking down an agonizing few seconds, "I Don't Know How" reconstitutes as a punk vamp. Wisely "Fade Away"s propulsion is stunted, opting for a steady grower instead of a race to the finish line. A slower pace gives Cosentino's vocals time to stretch out, gliding atop chugging guitars and thudding drums "sometimes I see, the person that's inside of me, she's real, she's mean." The greatest measure of increased growth to be found is Cosentino's comfortability in moving from "brawlers" to "bawlers" with ease.

An evolving musical identity is only one half of the equation though. Lyrically Cosentino remains in her wheelhouse. An admission of "my life has come, and gone so fast, I don't remember much" during gentrified country tune "Baby I'm Crying" is eerily similar to "Last Year"s confession "I just don't know where time has gone". Other elements continue to carry the weight of the past. A title like Fade Away isn't a far cry from master of teen melodrama Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away". Most bizarrely, there's a brief interpolation of West Side Story in "I Wanna Know", ("it's alarming how charming you can be"). Cosentino promises a forgotten past in "Baby I'm Crying", but Fade Away shows she's held on to more than a few memories.

One of the great paradoxes of Best Coast's work is the doubt on permanent display, when the songcraft is so assured. Lodging allegations of "sameness" or accusing Cosentino and instrumentalist Bobb Bruno of playing it safe is reductive. They've found a working formula; sticky melodies that often mask a bitter pill of confusion. "I won't change, I'll the stay the same" Cosentino bellows on the title track. Fade Away doesn't escape the feelings of "sameness" because it doesn't have to. It's found shelter in the familiar, and for a release modestly billed as a "mini-album" that's enough of a success.

"Fear of My Identity"      

Monday, October 28, 2013

What's New(s)?

Disclosure debut "Apollo"

Disclosure's excellent debut LP Settle is only four months old, but the dance-oriented duo is already returning with new material. "Apollo" dials down the bright-light "four on the floor" approach of Settle, opting for a sepia tone marked by muted background vocals and warped synthesizer burbles. And while the mood has noticeably shifted, the unmistakable dance-leanings remain. "Apollo" insures you'll eventually be tapping your feet, even if your initial inclination is to stick to the sidelines.

The aforementioned Settle is one of 12 nominees for Britain's Mercury Prize, winner announced on Wednesday, competing against: James Blake, Savages, the Arctic Monkeys, and others.


Tom Waits performs first live set in five years
Five years is entirely too long to be robbed of a Tom Waits live performance, so thankfully Neil Young's annual Bridge School Benefit (held this past weekend) coaxed the demonic troubadour out onto the stage. Accompanied by Primus' Les Claypool on upright bass and frequent collaborator David Hidalgo on guitar, Wait's howled through a 10-song set heavily relying on 2011's Bad As Me.

Posting on his site, the always shaggy Waits outlined his last minute addition, claiming ""I had every good intention to stay home and work on my JD Salinger Halloween mask, but when Neil told me yesterday he was serving burnt cow’s eyes on a flat tire and it’s all gluten free, I invited myself!"

The seemingly omnipresent Arcade Fire also performed at the benefit, playing cuts from Reflektor, before Young joined them on-stage for the freshly penned "I Dreamed A Neil Song". Check it out here, beginning around the 6:07:00 mark.

Joey Bada$$ re-releasing Summer Knights


Joey Bada$$' breezy summer-mixtape Summer Knights will be receiving the EP treatment and alongside mixtape highlights like "95 Til' Infinity", the 18-year-old rapper is including a few new tracks. One of those is posse-cut "My Jeep" featuring fellow Brooklyn-natives/Beast Coast residents: Flatbush Zombies and the Underachievers. Bada$$ remains stuck in the 90s, re-appropriating R. Kelly's classic "You Remind of Me Something" for a boom-bap s***-talking session. It's near impossible not to head-nod, and the kind of rap to be playing as a sunny fall day fades into a long cold winter.

Joey Bada$$ alongside the Underachievers and Black Hippy member Ab-Soul are currently out on the road for the annual Smoker's Club Tour, and dates can be found below.

Smoker's Club 
10/29 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
10/30 Lawrence, KS - Granada
11/1 Denver, CO - Cervantes / Ogden 
11/2 Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot
11/6 Ventura, CA - Venture Theater 
11/9 Santa Ana, CA - Observatory (minus Underachievers)
11/11 San Diego, CA - Soma
11/12 Tempe, AZ - Club Red
11/13 Albuquerque, NM - Sunshine Theatre
11/15 Dallas, TX - Southside Music Hall
11/16 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live
11/17 Austin, TX - Emo's East (minus Underachievers)
11/20 Tallahassee FL - Coliseum Tallahassee
11/21 Orlando, FL - Beacham Theater
11/22 Miami, FL - Grand Central
11/23 St. Petersburg, FL - Jannis Live!
11/24 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade (Heaven) (minus Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era)
11/26 New Haven, CT - Toad's Place
11/30 Philadelphia, PA - TLA

Check back in tomorrow for more of the newest in new(s).

"Remurdered"- Mogwai

Scottish post-rock group Mogwai is returning this January with their eighth studio LP and to coincide with the announcement, they've released the quiet rager "Remurdered". Barry Burns’ synth fills kick-off the collapse into a bad dream, while the guitars steadily circle in a hypnotic pattern. Slowly, the interstitial guitar fuzz becomes more pronounced, teasing impending doom like so many horror-movie cues. Synths and keyboards weather right in front of you, recalling an animal on its last gasp; drowned out by the chugging rhythm section. Martin Bulloch's resounding drums remain the surviving heartbeat in a decaying corpse. The band's previous album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will serves as an appropriate appendage here. "Remurdered" (like so many horror movie villains) doesn't die, it continually lingers in the shadows; ensuring peril is just a lumbering step away. 

Mogwai returns with Rave Tapes January 21 through Sub Pop. The tracklist can be found below.


“Heard About You Last Night”
2. “Simon Ferocious”
3. “Remurdered”

4. “Hexon Bogon”
5. “Repelish”
6. “Master Card”

7. “Deesh”
8. “Blues Hour”
9.“No Medecine For Regret” 

11. “The Lord Is Out Of Control”

Sunday, October 27, 2013

R.I.P. Lou Reed


There are countless "classics" I'll never be able to remember where I was the first time I heard them. It's a true test of my mettle to remember my locale when "Like A Rolling Stone", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Born to Run", or "Rapper's Delight" first spilled forth into my consciousness. I'll never forgetting hearing the Velvet Underground's "Heroin" for the first time. I'd bought the first LP on a whim, assured by every mythos-building review I'd read it was a transformative record. As it ebbed and flowed from delicate pop to snotty protopunk I was already convinced of the power every review promised, but nothing could have prepared me for "Heroin". 

The opening shimmer of Reed's guitar in the song remains some of the purest playing I've heard on record, made more "ironic" by the impending maelstrom. Reed was never a great singer in any traditional sense, but the opening line of "I don't know just where I'm going" delivered in his beatnik croon possesses an unmistakable, if fractured beauty. It's a line imbued with the same uncertainty as Dylan's "how does it feel in?" howled in "Like A Rolling Stone", but masking a quiet rage courtesy of that shimmering guitar. Those iconic two chords continue on for the song's seven minutes, ratcheting up as Reed's vocals become more frenetic. When I first heard them hit that frantic crescendo, where any pretext of arrangement flies out the window, I can remember being genuinely terrified. Frightened that such a skilled band was so doggedly committed to throwing everything out the window to chase their muse into a repellent world of: howling viola, galloping caveman drums, and feedback burdened guitar. The "crazy sounds" Reed sneered about was a classic undersell. 

Hearing of the passing of Lou Reed and re-listening to "Heroin" I can't help but sit in amazement. One of my friend's simply responded with the message "Lou Reed shouldn't be allowed to die". In the pantheon of performers like Iggy Pop or Keith Richards, Reed's swagger seemed larger than life. More than anything his passing at 71, reminds me of his mortality, and then I marvel that any mortal would be capable of such Herculean efforts.  Second only to Hendrix, Reed advanced the guitar further than anyone could've ever imagined. Where Hendrix teased the promise of feedback, Reed and the Velvet Underground fully delivered. For the Andy Warhol endorsed band, feedback wasn't a side-attraction, it was the main event. Reed would push the limits of guitar to it's extreme on 1975's solo effort Metal Machine Music, like a sadistic child playing with a Stretch Armstrong figurine. However, he hit the perfect dosage on "Heroin". And while such a self-assured debut only yielded some 30,000 copies sold, music luminary Brian Eno mythically summarized the album's impact "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band." So whether you know it or not, "Heroin" is likely in your blood, and you have Lou Reed to thank.


The sweep of Reed's career certainly extends far beyond this song's expansive seven minutes, and I'd encourage you to listen to any of his VU or solo work to fully appreciate the man. Listed below are a few choice cuts to get you started.

1. "Femme Fatale"- The Velvet Underground & Nico

2. "Venus in Furs"- The Velvet Underground & Nico
3. "European Son"- The Velvet Underground & Nico
4. "White Light/White Heat"- White Light/White Heat
5. "Here She Comes Now"- White Light/White Heat
6. "Sister Ray"- White Light/White Heat
7. "Candy Says"- The Velvet Underground
8. "What Goes On"- The Velvet Underground
9. "Pale Blue Eyes"- The Velvet Underground
10. "After Hours"- The Velvet Underground
11. "Sweet Jane"- Loaded
12. "Rock & Roll"- Loaded
13. "I Found A Reason"- Loaded

Solo work
14. "Perfect Day"- Transformer
15. "Walk on the Wild Side"- Transformer
16. "Satellite of Love"- Transformer
17. "The Kids"- Berlin
18. "The Bed"- Berlin
19. "Crazy Feeling"- Coney Island Baby
21. "Coney Island Baby"- Coney Island Baby
22. "Street Hassle"- Street Hassle
23. "Waves of Fear"- The Blue Mask
24. "Average Guy"- The Blue Mask
24. "Turn to Me"- New Sensations
25. "Dirty Blvd."- New York

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Dub Sac"- Ab-Soul

Between Kendrick Lamar's ascendant verse on "Control" and the Black Hippy crew's verbal onslaught at the BET Cypher, there hasn't been a better time to be in TDE than now. Ab-Soul's unannounced track "Dub Sac" seems self-possessed with that knowledge, and the chronic overthinker is allowed time to put his feet up. Here there's no concern for the next target or take-down, the mantra shifts to the simple "f*** it". Soul's logging hours as Marshall Law from Tekken (I'd hoped he was a Kuma guy) and blowing digits, ambling through a vaporous beat provided by Tae Beast and Dave Free. The underlying drum hits and bass knocks keep him from kicking back completely; delivering a few diffuse shots "you still weak, you last weak" and reminding everyone through a gigantic grin "we gave y'all plenty of time to dig our stuff." In the midst of the murky chorus, the Black Hippy member jabs "n***** will never take it where I took it, I ain't even take it there yet". The whole crew continues to climb, and they haven't seen the summit.

According to TDE president Terrence "Punch" Henderson Schoolboy Q's Oxymoron is the next offering to drop (there's still no official date), and we may see a new release from Ab-Soul before the year is out.