Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Song by Ra Ra Riot "Water" (New Album Out February 19)

Ra Ra Riot (Photo credit: Shervin Lainez)
There is something so immediate about Wes Miles' voice, pure and sweetly sincere. I could identify it instantly this week as a new song "Water" was released ahead of his band Ra Ra Riot's fourth full length, Need Your Light (due February 19 from Barsuk Records.) This track is a collaboration with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, a musical compatriot in the band Discovery from 2005 to 2009 (with one self-titleld EP). The story goes that Miles was staying with Rostam last January and they simply started writing again. Rostam has stated that he felt that the live quality of Miles' singing hadn't quite been captured on record, so he took on producer duties as well. 

Take a listen to "Water" via the lyric video, and see how nicely the vocals are isolated in order to spotlight Miles' endearing qualities in song, all while rhythmic beats and swirling synths surround him.  Rostam also serves as producer of record for another tune in the new collection, "I Need Your Light." After the last album, 2013's Beta Love, Miles had planned to take more of a break but after a few months he says "the inspiration came very quickly." I'm still aglow from catching the band on tour in support of Beta Love after interviewing Miles for PopMatters, witnessing the group's infectious energy and impressive musicianship from the front row. Thrilled to know there's more to come from one of my favorite bands of all time, and looking forward to hearing the whole thing in February!

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Song by Dr. Dog "Badvertise" (NYC Tour Date March 18)

Dr. Dog with Pig Iron Theatre Co. (Photo via
Dr. Dog calls itself an indie psych-pop outfit, but really the most important thing is how the music resonates as pure raucous fun, whether played in the recording studio or at a community festival (when I caught the band during Greenwich Town Party in 2014). This group hails proudly from West Grove, PA outside of Philly and makes the most of its rock roots. However, the latest song "Badvertise" pulls out crazy energy in a synth-heavy blast (the song is available here and watch the video below or over on YouTube). It's a result of a collaboration back in September between Dr. Dog and the Pig Iron Theatre Co. called SWAMP IS ON. As directed by Ilan Bachracht and Jost Higgason, the visuals in the video bleed into one trippy infomercial of wacky commercialism.

The band will heading out on tour with a date at Terminal 5 on March 18, make plans now!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fall 2015 New Music Playlist

Here's another playlist to catch up on new releases by fave bands such as Deerhunter, YACHT, Beach House, Yo La Tengo and more. There are also songs by new configurations of musicians (EL VY) Click to listen on Spotify via this link or as a YouTube playlist.
plus solo work by Martin Courtney and Chris Walla. As always, there are a few newbies to welcome to the music scene fold: Maury and Legs.

1. “Return to the Moon” – EL VY
The National’s Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf (Ramona Falls, Menomena) have been talking about collaborating for years, and now a debut album by their musical project EL VY is ready for a listen. This is the title track for the collection, a bouncy, fun tune with rambling lyrics and sing along chorus.

2. “Breaker” – Deerhunter
Atlanta’s indie rock quartet Deerhunter has released its seventh studio album since 2001, Fading Frontier, written by songwriter Bradford Cox after he was hit by a car and the accident became a musical turning point. The song “Breaker” finds Cox sharing lead vocals with guitarist Lockett Pundt for a lighter pop sound.

3. “I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler” – YACHT
L.A. band YACHT was formed in Portland in 2002 by musician/producer Jona Bechtolt and singer Claire L. Evans. They craft fun dance punk songs with a lyrical depth as exhibited in this title track for the band’s sixth album.

4. “61 Cygni Ave” – Neon Indian
Neon Indian is the stage name of Alan Paloma, a Mexican born musician from Denton, Texas. He recently released the third album since 2008, VEGA INTL. Night School, full of funk influences and swirling dance beats as found in “61 Cygni Ave.”

5. “Pretty Pimpin” – Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile is a former member of Philly band The War on Drugs who just released his sixth album since 2008, believe I’m going down… As a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Vile’s goal was to present songs that have a lo-fi sound, as if they're written and played on his couch.

6. “Friends” – Raury
 Raury is a young musician from Atlanta who fearlessly mixes soul, hip hop and folk. Last year he put together a mixtape and soon signed with Columbia Records. This friendly, open composition, “Friends,” is off his second album All We Need.

7. “Rickety” – Yo La Tengo
Hoboken’s Yo La Tengo has released a mix of covers along with a few originals like “Rickety” for its fourteenth full length album, Stuff Like That There. This memorizing tune showcases the band’s strength in acoustic arrangements and sweetly sung vocals.

8. “Mountain at My Gates” – Foals
Foals is an indie rock quintet from Oxford, England.  “Mountain at My Gates” is a single from the band’s fourth studio album, What Went Down, with lead guitarist and vocalist Yannis Philippaki leading the band’s driven sound.

9. “Falling” – Here We Go Magic
NYC-based band Here We Go Magic is known for its buoyant songwriting and energetic arrangements as witnessed in “Falling.” This tune is off the fourth album since 2008, Be Small.

10. “Northern Highway – Martin Courtney
Martin Courtney is a vocalist and guitarist for the New Jersey band Real Estate, now based in Brooklyn.  His solo debut Many Moons strives for a more personal level of songwriting that tilts towards pop, as achieved in the endearing tune “Northern Highway.”

11. “Jabberwocky” – Panda Bear
Noah Benjamin Lennox is the musical mastermind behind Panda Bear, releasing five solo albums since 1999 while Lennox collaborated in Animal Collective. This Baltimore native is now living in Lisbon, indulging in experimental psych pop with this lush composition, “Jabberwocky,” off the EP Crosswords.

12. “Top of the World” – Legs
Brooklyn indie quartet Legs has a tag line that it “makes music for the body” as this song fuses soul and Nu-disco for an instant dance party. “Top of the World” is off the band’s self-released debut album Altitud.

13. “Let It Grow” – Maximum Balloon, Karen O, Tunde Adebimpe
Maximum Balloon is Dave Sitek’s side project when he finds time away from being a producer/guitarist with TV on the Radio. This infectious single -- with a strummed rhythm supplementing the drums -- for an upcoming sophomore album, “Let It Grow,” enlists a charming collaboration with vocals by Karen O and TV on the Radio’s Tende Adebimpe.

14. “One Thing” – Beach House
Baltimore duo Beach House, French-born singer Victoria Legrand on keyboards and guitarist Alex Scally, released a second album this year called Thank Your Lucky Stars (the sixth full length since 2004).  The drifting tune “One Thing” is emblematic of their dream pop music, imparting an elegant wash of sound.

15. “Doll’s House” – Youth Lagoon
Youth Lagoon is the moniker of Boise, Idaho musician Trevor Powers, who has released a third album since 2010, Savage Hills Ballroom. His songs are always densely presented and deeply personal, even in this instrumental song “Doll’s House.”

16. “Kanta’s Theme” – Chris Walla
“Kanta’s Theme” is the enigmatic opening track for Field Manual, the first solo release since Chris Walla left Death Cab for Cutie. This change, along with a move with his family to Norway, found him reflective and seeking musical renewal as he started plugging in tape machines to create loops.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Song by Here We Go Magic "Falling" (New Album Out & NYC Tour Date October 24)

Michael Bloch & Luke Temple (Photo via Secretly Canadian)
New York based indie band Here We Go Magic released a new album last week, Be Small (Secretly Canadian) and the infectious kicker of a tune "Falling" is a welcome new earworm. It opens with a wobbly synth intro and a buildup of percussive lines, until an explosion of layered vocals brings an energetic burst into song about the high-powered pull of love that affects everyone -- depicted in the video as directed by Sam Kuhn.

For the band's fourth studio LP, chief songwriter Luke Temple took a back-to-basics home studio approach with longtime collaborator Michael Bloch, adding Austin Vaughan on drums. The trademark buoyancy and optimism of the group belies the vast amount of groundwork and musical expertise invested in their catalogue. I witnessed their sweat inducing set on stage a few years ago during Crossing Brooklyn Ferry at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (after choosing songs from the last album, A Different Ship, for my Summer 2012 New Music Playlist).  Catch Here We Go Live in concert this Saturday, October 24 at the Bowery Ballroom and see for yourself!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Song by Martin Courtney "Northern Highway" (Debut album due October 30 & NYC Tour Dates October 16 & 17, November 20)

Martin Courtney IV (Photo via Domino Records) 
The sonic breezes of "Northern Highway" caught my ear recently, so I decided to research into the lilting tune. The easy nostalgia behind this familiar sound is Real Estate's vocalist/guitarist Martin Courtney, who will release a debut album October 30 called Many Moons (Domino Records). Courtney started crafting songs for himself as he waited to head back on the road last year after the band's third album, Atlas. He was looking for less abstraction, more a "straightforward pop thing," with themes revolving around his family life as a new father. When a few songs became ten, he enlisted Jarvis Taveniere of Woods as Producer and contributor, along with Real Estate keyboardist Matt Kallman and longtime friend Julian Lynch among others.  

Courtney is in town for CMJ this week and will be performing October 16 at Converse Rubber Tracks and October 17 at Baby's All Right as well as Space Ninety 8. He also has a date at National Sawdust planned for November 20, more info for tour dates here. Listen to "Northern Highway" with the accompanying video on YouTube or below as directed by Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu. Looking forward to giving the entire album a full listen -- for now a track listing will just have to do.

Many Moons Track List:
1. Awake
2. Foto
3. Vestiges
4. Before We Begin
5. Northern Highway
6. Many Moons
7. Asleep
8. Little Blue
9. Focus
10. Airport Bar

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Other Lives @ BAM This Weekend October 9 & 10 - Reconfiguration

Other Lives (Photo credit: Emily Ulmer)
Portland based indie rock band Other Lives is appearing October 9 and 10 as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival.  Reconfiguration: An Evening with Other Lives is being touted as an "rarefied intersensorary domain" created by director Terry Kinney, co-founder of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. I wrote a piece about the program and this fave band for the BAM blog recently, so I look forward to taking it all in this weekend. But I also wonder about this trendy onslaught of interdisciplinary performance arts, with equal weight given to both the music and visual design (last month's Tree of Codes at the Park Avenue Armory even added modern dance to the mix).

Other Lives has a new album out via tbd records, Rituals, which is definitely worth a listen as the inherent grandeur of the song "Reconfiguration" appeared on my Spring 2015 New Music Playlist. Tickets can be purchased here and check out a captivating performance of "Reconfiguration" at the Music Apartment video below.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New Song by Deerhunter "Breaker" (New Album Out October 16 & NYC Tour Dates December 8/9)

Deerhunter pals Cox and Pundt 
Indie rock band Deerhunter is ready with its seventh album, Fading Frontier, due October 16 via 4AD. The first single, "Snakeskin," struts along with funky swagger yet the latest song "Breaker" finds a sweet spot of brightly nuanced harmonies and brightly lit production values. It features a first ever duet between frontman/singer Brandon Cox and best bud guitarist Lockett Pundt, a vocal mind meld endearingly depicted in the video. Check out the video below as directed by Cox with additional photography by Pundt.

The new collection was created by the band's founding members in their hometown of Atlanta -- Cox, Pundt and drummer Moses Archuleta -- with bassist Josh McKay. Production duties were shared with Ben H. Allen III, who has provided an assist since 2010's Halcyon Digest. Deerhunter will soon embark on a world tour in support of the new release, with stops at Irving Plaza in NYC on December 8 and Warsaw in Brooklyn on December 9. Cox's solo project Atlas Sound will open many of the dates, a creative outlet for his intensely introspective music that I witnessed at the Ace Hotel during CMJ and Moogfest in 2011, as well as at Crossing Brooklyn Ferry at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2012.  Looking forward to more music ahead through both trajectories!