Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's New(s)?

 Trailer for Elliott Smith Film Heaven Adores You Released 

In the past 10 years, the phrase "gone too soon" has rarely been used as appropriately as it was for indie-folk artist Elliott Smith. Just as Smith was cresting on the wave of moodily delicate major-label releases XO and Figure 8, as well as a prominent Oscar appearance, he fell headlong into a crippling heroin addiction. That torturous bout kept him from issuing an immediate follow-up and for nearly three years he struggled to complete 6th LP From a Basement on the Hill. Eventually that struggle became far more tragic as he died from an apparent suicide on October 21, 2003.

Next Monday, the San Francisco International Film Festival is debuting Heaven Adores You, a documentary focusing on Smith's all too short life. Directed by Nickolas Rossi, the Kickstarter-backed film will be the first Smith-centered documentary to feature his music. Along with previously unheard material, Heaven Adores You will include interviews with prominent friends of Elliott Smith including Fiona Apple-producer Jon Brion and Rob Schnapf who worked on four of Smith's albums.

Below you can see the trailer for Heaven Adores You along with footage from Elliott Smith's 1998 Oscar performance of "Miss Misery".

Lil B's "Katy Perry" Gets the Singer to Ask BasedGod to Prom


Lil B has a long history of celebrity-minded songs, but his latest simply entitled "Katy Perry" may be his most rewarding effort. In the menacing trap cut the BasedGod demands you "call me Katy Perry" in the chorus, while taking time to build an empire in the mumbled verses. In the video description for the song, B fawningly wrote "KATY BOO I LOVE YOU!!!!!! KEEP DOING YO THANG GIRL..." which apparently caught the eye of the mega-popstar. Responding to the praise Perry tweeted out "Before I lay my jet-lagged head down to sleep let me leave u w/a lovely lullaby I came across today ."

And if that kindliness weren't enough, Perry quickly asked B to "be my prom date." Taking it all in stride, the Lil B coolly replied: "i feel like its highschool again katy and i missed my prom so it wud mean alot, thank you love u have a good day - Lil B". Give him all the guff you'd like, he always manages to keep it #Based.

The-Dream deals with Racism in new track "Black"


While plenty of people in all corners of the media machine have had their say about bigoted L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, perhaps one of the most unlikely was R&B-artist The-Dream. Not that the singer/producer is unqualified to speak on the issue, but because his brand of feathery music has never felt particularly combative.

And by-and-large the reflective piano marcher doesn't get aggressive. Instead The-Dream croons about his ferocious pride for civil rights leaders past and present while throwing up images of: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, Marvin Gaye, Pussy Riot, and more in the accompanying video. ""Y'all got me feelin real black right now," he continually emphasizes in the song's chorus. More than a comment or a color, The-Dream makes it clear that black is a "feeling."

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What's New(s)?

Coldplay release new Avicii collabo single "A Sky Full of Stars"/Announce "scavenger hunt"

The two previous singles "Magic" and "Midnight" that Coldplay have shared from their upcoming 6th LP Ghost Stories have both been remarkably restrained. Instead of employing the traditional Coldplay swell, Chris Martin and company have stuck to hushed whispers and somber tones.

That changes with the quartet's third single "A Sky Full of Stars". Granted the swell found here is markedly different thanks to the feature from EDM-staple Avicii. Now Chris Martin's falsetto cries are emboldened by shrieking synthesizers and heart-thudding drums. But rather than stretch the "new direction" to thin, the band eases back into a light acoustic shuffle for the lovestruck verses. Even with heavyweight backing, Coldplay can't resist being tender.

In addition to the new track, Coldplay has announced an "international scavenger hunt" to promote the new LP. According to "The Guardian" the band has hidden the lyrics to all 9 Ghost Stories tracks in libraries around the world. The hunt began yesterday when their Twitter account pointed fans in Mexico City to an envelope Vasconcelos library. Each contains a lyric sheet penned by lead-singer Chris Martin and one specially selected envelope will have a "golden ticket" to the band's July 1 at Royal Albert Hall.

of Montreal releasing documentary The Past Is Grotesque Animal

Having had the fortune to see Elephant 6 members of Montreal at this year's installment of Middle of the Map Fest in Kansas City, I know how cinematic the band's psychedelic presence is. Now the upcoming documentary The Past Is A Grotesque Animal (named for the Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer? epic) will capture the Kevin Barnes group in all its blown-out, kaleidoscopic glory.

Directed by Jason Miller, the music doc  will focus both on the band and Kevin Barnes himself out on tour, with appearances by frequent collaborators like Janelle Monáe. The project, initially funded through a Kickstarter campaign, will be released through Oscilloscope Laboratories and also made available on iTunes. View the official trailer below, which features the aforementioned Monáe.

Hear unreleased Arcade Fire Reflektor cut "Get Right"

Arcade Fire found the connector on 2013's towering Reflektor and now fans have found an unreleased effort from the LP. Entitled "Get Right", the song initially appeared on a short advertisement before disappearing into the ether.  Now Exclaim is reporting fans of the Montreal-group have fished out a lo-fi, live recording of the Reflektor outtake. 

There's no word on where the faux 50s rave-up emanates from, but you can find the track here and view the group's recently released behind-the-scenes tour short below.

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

"MT. Olympus"- Big K.R.I.T.

A "diss" is how Consequence of Sound describes Big K.R.I.T.'s "MT. Olympus". They're not alone in the description either. A cursory glance at "MT. Olympus" mentions on Twitter reveals plenty of people who've had the wool pulled over their eyes. Somehow because K.R.I.T. calls the famed "Control" beat a beat that "an ugly b**** that everybody done f***ed raw," everyone assumes he's going for Kendrick Lamar's head. The hip-hop community is lousy with this mentality. A mere mention of another rapper, that isn't 100% glowing, will be seen as an insult by those listening. People become subliminal attack experts and are able to make proverbial mountains out of molehills.

There's nothing "subliminal" about K.R.I.T.'s booming new self-produced effort. Over near-Gothic incantations and echoing piano, Krizzle immediately establishes who he's at odds with. The battle lines aren't draw between K.R.I.T. and other rappers, but K.R.I.T. and an indecisive audience. One moment they want something real, the next they're clamoring for "radio." Hearing the Meridian, MS-native tell it in the chorus, you can hear the frustration in his voice. Not simply because he snarls "f*** them n*****," but because it sounds like it’s done through clinched teeth. 

The same crowd is incredulous that K.R.I.T. could've "made the beat" and "mixed the track." Any direction he heads in is the wrong way. Even if he ascends to Rap-God status, he won't be put in the same pantheon as rappers from the East-Coast and West-Coast. "You tellin' me I can be King of Hip-Hop, and they wouldn't give it to Andre 3000?" he demands as the heavy drum hits back out entirely. A kingdom's hard to claim, especially when no one's willing to recognize your sovereignty.

Cadillactica is out some time this fall through Def Jam.

Angel Olsen Live at the Riot Room

Angel Olsen's set at Kansas City's Riot Room in Westport was one of blissful contradictions. Before the show even began, Olsen asked for "a little more vocals," as if her spring-loaded cannon of a voice needs extra amplification. In between tales of lost time and vacant lovers, she warmly asked for a beer with an "appreciate ya" attached to the end. Fuzzed-out brawlers and barely strummed wailers managed to coexist in the same intimate space. Similar to her terrific second LP Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Olsen's set was both bristly and tender.

It was the tenderness that captivated the crowd first. Soft splashes of tambourine accompanied opener "Free", which found Olsen keep her fingers tightly crossed for "pure love." While "Hi-Five"'s rural trod picked up a few paces, Olsen continued to ruminate on making a lasting connection. "All I ever need is someone out there to believe," she lonesomely sang as the tightly packed crowd nodded along. Whatever dark alley she wandered down, the audience was eager to follow. And few roads were as pitch-black or rocky early on as "Drunk And With Dreams." Olsen nearly shred her voice to promise "I'll be the one, I'll be the one," each facial shiver making the promise seem more real.

For someone so frequently guarded in song, Olsen's on-stage presence was remarkably candid. She gave tips on fiscal beer drinking: the higher the alcohol content the less you have to drink and offered Duchess Sour is "how I feel about myself some time." As the night continued, that openness spilled over into the band's songs. Rather than whisper what song should come next, Olsen half-yelled "you wanna do "Forgiven/Forgotten"?" to her guitarist. Even with the cat out of the bag, the Burn Your Fire For No Witness-highlight still bulldozed the enthusiastic crowd and wracked Olsen's voice as she screamed "I don't know anything, but I love you." 

Such transparency is what allows for a song like "Miranda" to exist. Whether or not it's an autobiographical tale is irrelevant, constructing a song around a partner's knowledge their other half is with another is devastating enough. Throughout the course of the entire night, the 2012 track came closest to pure country. When Olsen asks "what lover is waiting up for you tonight," the question keeps up the embattled tradition of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Further clawing, she slowly realizes every nice thing that was said may have been a white lie.

Songs such as foot-stamper "High And Wild" and "Sweet Dreams" helped to temporarily ease these sobering realizations. The latter stole into a world of reverie, a world where warped, flanging guitar was more mushroom-fed than whiskey gulping. In "Tiniest Seed", brushed drums painted Olsen's tortured references to time in a warmer light. 

But some things can only be avoided for so long and by the time her band left her alone on the dark stage, it was becoming clear which half of the contradiction had won out. Save for one lone wolf, everyone in the audience looked dead ahead as Olsen delivered an astounding version of "Unf***theworld". When she warbles "I wanted nothing but for this to be the end," it’s one of the most arresting musical moments of the year. An old manner insists "begging is undignified," though Olsen imbues the indignity with tremendous courage. In that instance, the breathless crowd wasn't intently focused on Olsen because she was the last one standing. Like Olsen, they were praying for peace of mind.

1. "Free"
2. "Hi-Five"
3. "Lights Out" 
4. "Tiniest Seed"
5. "Stars"
6. "Forgiven/Forgotten"
7. "Miranda"
8. "Sweet Dreams"
9. "High and Wild"

10. "Iota"
11. "Some Things Cosmic"
12. "Unf***theworld"
13. "May As Well" 

Monday, April 28, 2014

What's New(s)?

Arcade Fire cover "Roll Over Beethoven"

Continuing the cover trend that's become a fixture of their Reflektor Tour, Arcade Fire dove into a rock classic on Sunday night in St. Louis when the sextet took on Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven". Berry was born in St. Louis and continues to perform at the city's Blueberry Hill each month, so the move doesn't come as an Earth-shaking revelation. In fact the previous night in Kansas City, Arcade Fire performed a rendition of Kansas' "Dust in the Wind". That rendition though was "rudely" interrupted by lead-singer Win Butler, who reminded the group: "that’s a Kansas song and we’re in f***in’ Missouri. You f***ed up," he said. "That’s gonna kill when we play Lawrence, though."

While the covers may come as no surprise, the band's escalation of their "deadmau5 beef" raises a few eyebrows. The "feud" began during Arcade Fire's set when Win Butler flippantly praised "All the bands still playing actual instruments," which led to deadmau5 proclaiming "Arcade Fire needs to settle down." As though that weren't enough, deadmau5 barbarously declared "If I wanna watch real artists perform, I'd pick the opera before wasting a f***ing minute of my life with Arcade Fire." In St. Louis, Arcade Fire struck back by flashing deadmau5's trademark mask on-screen during "Normal Person". And if that weren't enough former Missouri Congressman Todd Akin made an appearance, a person you generally won't want to be associated with circa 2014. 

Rather than dive into any "beef" further, just enjoy the clip of Arcade Fire's playing some good "rock and roll music."


The Roots release new track "Tomorrow"

An idea that's been floating around about The Roots' upcoming 11th LP And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is that it's a violent record. Not necessarily that it commits violent acts, but the world it inhabits is one of extreme violence. "When the People Cheer", the first sampling of the album, proved this with an unflinching portrayal of rapper Black Thought permanently stuck in the trap and knowing there's nowhere to go.
New single "Tomorrow" heads in an entirely different direction. Bolstered by a ringing piano, the Raheem DeVaughan feature is "thankful to be alive." In a soft-croon, DeVaughan stops to "smell the flowers" and appreciate the small things. "9-5 jobs" no longer sound like hellish nightmares, but welcome escapes. "It's free to be yourself," DeVaughan testifies. However "violent" And Then You Shoot Your Cousin ultimately is, "Tomorrow" will offer a brief moment of tranquility. 
And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is out May 13 through Def Jam and you can hear "Tomorrow" now on 1200 Squad.
Stream tUnE-yArDs' Nikki Nack now

tUnE-yArDs' third studio-album, Nikki Nack, doesn't drop until May 6 in the U.S. but that doesn't mean you can't hear Merrill Garbus' latest effort now. Courtesy of The Guardian, Nikki Nack is currently streaming ahead of its release date and my initial impression of the LP is that its every bit as strong and infectious as Garbus' previous two albums.

tUnE-yArDs are currently touring the U.S. with the aforementioned Arcade Fire, but will also be logging stage-time with the National and Sylvan Esso before the summer is over. You can find the dates below along with the Pee-wee's Playhouse inspired video for the clamorous first-single "Water Fountain".
Tour Dates:
4/29 Columbus, OH - Schottenstein Center (w. Arcade Fire)
5/1 Nashville, TN - Bridgestone Arena (w. Arcade Fire)
5/2 Atlanta, GA - Aarons Amphitheatre at Lakewood (w. Arcade Fire)
5/5 Los Angeles, CA - Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
5/7 Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
5/12 London, England - Village Underground (w. Sylvan Esso)
5/14 Berlin, Germany - Berghain (w. Sylvan Esso)
5/15 Hamburg, Germany - Nochtspeicher (w. Sylvan Esso)
5/16 Brussels, Belgium - Les Nuits-Cirque Royal
5/18 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Bitterzoet (w. Sylvan Esso)
5/19 Paris, France - Cafe de La Danse (w. Sylvan Esso)
5/23 Bend, OR - Les Schwab Ampitheater (w. The National)
5/25 George, WA - Sasquatch Festival
5/26 Boise, ID - Knitting Factory Concert House (w. Sylvan Esso)
5/27 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge (w. Sylvan Esso)
5/30 Dallas, TX - Granada Theater (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/1 Houston, TX - Free Press Summerfest
6/3 Phoenix, AZ - The Crescent Ballroom (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/5 Los Angeles, CA - The Fonda Theatre (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/6 San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/13 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/15 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/16 Boston, MA - Royale Boston (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/18 Montreal, Quebec - La Tulipe (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/19 Toronto, Ontario - NXNE, Massey Hall (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/21 Dover, DE - Firefly Festival
6/22 New York, NY - Webster Hall (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/23 New York, NY - Webster Hall (w. Sylvan Esso)
6/26 Brighton, England - Concorde 2
6/30 Manchester, England - Gorilla
7/1 Leeds, England - Cockpit
7/2 Bristol, England - Trinity
7/17 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
7/19 Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Music Festival
7/20 Louisville, KY - Forecastle Festival
9/3 London, England - Brixton Electric 

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

"Walk Away"- LANY

Listening through enigmatic LA-artist LANY's initial single it becomes easy to use the word "simplistic" as a descriptor. Musically "Walk Away"'s DNA is extremely mappable: late-80s R&B that could wind up on a Ready for the World album. A lone synthesizer continuously ripples like a wave in Japan's Ocean Dome Pool. Artificial finger snaps are metronomic in their precision. LANY's voice never soars or plummets as he confesses "I'm too good at leaving love," one of the song's few delivered lines. Even the way LANY ends the effort with a cut-off "I don't wanna be" harkens back to an 80s delivery method.

But filing "Walk Away" as 80s R&B-revivalism would dangerously reductionist. The electronic murmurs floating to the song's surface would be far too eccentric for standard 80s R&B fair. Each bleep recalls a spaceship scanning the surface of the Moon looking for signs of life. Reflecting on every alien communique, LANY's pregnant pauses in-between lines become almost skin-crawling. However, they don't have the feel of dramatism. Those abrupt stops seem to be done out of necessity rather than showmanship. And when you consider what LANY's saying, that his hidden talent is hastily letting love go, the pauses become necessary for the listener as well. And in those moments of vocal silence, you realize what LANY's constructed stands outside of time and place.

You can find LANY's debut track "Walk Away" and "Hot Lights" now through Soundcloud and download them on iTunes. Credit to Disco Naïveté for posting an early review of this track.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Found the Connector: Arcade Fire Live at Starlight Theatre

(Culture Shock)

One word that springs up whenever Arcade Fire is discussed is the word "communal". A word hinging on the idea that their heartfelt, headstrong music provides a place for those on a similar wavelength to get together and feel safe. Each rallying chorus or pointed line doesn't simply sound good; they throw a life-preserver out to those drowning. Even in Arcade Fire’s darkest hours, a strange hopefulness pervades. You can find inspiration in the mere fact that through such horror they're still able to stand on two feet. More than indie rock or chamber pop, what the Montreal-group trades in is: survival music. And that survivalist-mentality was on full display at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre last night.

With the stage bathed in purple lights, a brash clip of "Who's the F***ing DJ?" blared over the speakers; assuring the crowd the party they'd been promised was soon to follow. Scrawling electric guitars slowly contorted into opener "Here Comes the Night Time", which had been revamped with squiggly synthesizer movements. The track began the search for community; taking the party to the streets once heaven is found to be at max-capacity. Whatever dancing the opener offered, became a lurch for the paranoiac "Flashbulb Eyes". Before the song lead-singer Win Butler enjoined the crowd of nearly 8000 to "dance in the aisles," though few could dance to such a skin-crawling number.

Frantically strummed, Funeral's "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" sought a flicker of light in the crisp night air. Though with the bright glockenspiel of the album-cut obliterated, the task became impossible. Three songs in and any chance at community-building had shattered like glass. Thankfully penultimate Funeral track "Rebellion (Lies)" swiftly followed to provide catharsis for weary onlookers. As Régine Chassagne giddily bashed away on piano, the crowd willingly obliged every chant of "lies lies." Any condemnation of citizen-malaise fell away, leaving behind a muscular pop song for the masses.

From that point forward, no matter the subject matter Arcade Fire connected with the crowd. Spoon-fed by a mourning piano, "The Suburbs" left both Butler and the audience yearning to turn back to a time when things came easier. "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"' lithe disco-step and glowing neon lights had Régine Chassagne imagining a bright utopia buried under urban chaos. By the time the crystalline electronics came out for a final time, it was clear Chassagne found her paradise; a place where ribbon-dancing isn't met with even the slightest guffaw. 

While "Sprawl II"'s disco bubbled beneath the surface, "We Exist"  came strutting onto land. Spiked with guitars, "We Exist"'s relatability comes in its anxiety. Few things are as miserable as being forgotten, something the song struggles to prevent. While you can take attention-seeking too far, another person’s simple assurance is our lifeblood. It relaxes us. It bonds us when we feel like we're separate from everyone else.

Sometimes those connections can become strained. Leaping out of the gate like Usain Bolt, "Ready to Start" openly considered upsides to "being alone." Anchored by Jeremy Gara's in-the-pocket drum part, Win Butler summoned the strength to ask "can we still be friends?" a question most never pose when they hit a wall. Riding a magnificent glam-rock bassline, "Joan of Arc" heads toward disaster by promising "I'll follow you," but stops just short of stalking. "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)" picked up the fraying thread and stretches it to its thinnest point. The line "I will sing your name until you're sick of me" delivered by Butler (Orpheus) to Chassagne (Eurydice), who was out in the concrete aisles, is at once knowing and foreboding. Imbued with a knowledge the end is nigh, Orpheus continues to insist "it's never over" as if repetition of the phrase can stave off the inevitable. In that way, he's no different than anyone who's struggled to find the words to change course.

The heartrending "Afterlife" acted as the epilogue to this great tragedy. All of the love once shared vanished and left Butler wondering "when love is gone, where does it go?" It's a question that's impossible not to ponder. There's no real magic in the world so every disappearing act can be explained. Love begins in the heart and mind, but where does it end? Butler posits the afterlife as an answer though he seems unsatisfied. Our idealized afterlife is too perfect of a place to let love die. However perfection can be a burden. Love is so blissful in this physical realm because it’s imperfect. It can wither away. Relationships can dissolve into screaming and shouting. Sure we agonize over it, but that agony can be overcome and turn into joy.

For the encore, which came after the confetti cannons of "Reflektor", the band finally conquered these universal trials. Arriving "all the way from the Internet", Arcade Fire’s "The Reflektors" persona came to play a seemingly off-the-cuff version of Kansas' "Dust in the Wind", a trick they've been pulling quite often on tour. Soon enough, a high-spirited Butler interrupted the mask-wearing imposters to inform them "that's a Kansas song and we're in f***ing Missouri," an admonishment that elicited an enthusiastic roar from the revitalized Starlight crowd. And after "Normal Person"'s faux rockabilly and Win Butler's affable "how to do you do's" to those in the first few rows, that enthusiasm crested on the wave of Funeral's tour-de-force "Wake Up". Other songs in their oeuvre have had greater chart success, but "Wake Up" has cemented itself as a de facto fan-favorite. Between Tim Kingsbury's Telecaster strum at the start and the sanguine violin near the end, there was room for the sold-out crowd to chant the mesmerizingly simplistic chorus. If the entire night could be seen in the frame of a party, "Wake Up" was the next morning. Instead of waking up with a headache, you wake up with hope. You want to venture back out into the world because it has so much to offer. Cutting back through the grass parking lot after the show, that's all I could think. Whatever happened from there didn't matter because I'd found my connection; I wasn’t alone.

1. "Here Comes the Night Time"
2. "Flashbulb Eyes"
3. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"
4. "Rebellion (Lies)"
5. "Joan of Arc"
6. "Keep the Car Running
7. "Ocean of Noise"
8. "The Suburbs
9. "The Suburbs (Continued)"
10. "Ready to Start"
11. "No Cars Go"
12. "Haiti"
13. "We Exist"
14. "My Body Is A Cage"
15. "Afterlife"
16. "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)" 
17. "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

18. "Dust in the Wind"
19. "Normal Person" 
20. "Wake Up"