Monday, May 23, 2016

Moby's "Porcelain: A Memoir" - Book Tour & Playlist w/Audiobook Samples

Signing w/his alter ego alien like he drew when working at Johnny's in Darien
Franklin Street Works Contemporary Art Space & Cafe in Stamford, CT provided the locale for Moby's homecoming on his current book tour for "Porcelain: A Memoir." He was born in NYC, then spent a childhood in my town of Darien before spending formative years squatting in one of this city's neglected factories and making a name as a DJ. I must have crossed paths with him during the 80s in Port Chester's club known as The Beat, but more recently we have connected in L.A. at the New Music Seminar (where I interviewed him for PopMatters) along with local talks, live concerts and Asheville's Moogfest festival.

From the passages shared at the event, the book rambles in Moby's stream of conscious style found on his website and multitudinous social media posts, peppered with a vocabulary formed during his affluent upbringing. Though living on the edge of society, Moby respects his mother's decision to return to Darien where her parents still lived and her son could reap the benefits of an excellent public school system.  And one of my favorite things about Moby, besides his musical gifts that I consider My Essential Music - Fave Band Playlists, is that he never throws Darien under the bus. I grew up a bit down the gold coast of CT and one of the best lessons I learned surrounded by wealth is money can't buy you love, or happiness for that matter. As similarly Moby explained in his Q & A after the reading, he defines happiness as being able to do simple things like "playing with a dog" or "eating an orange," having realized that wealth sometimes inhibits joy rather than bringing it.

Husband Paul, Me & Moby
The book covers the decade 1989 through 1999, and when it was our turn in line I asked if it was just volume one, since there was so much more to tell about being an music industry icon. He suggested it might be and I told him that was a very good thing. There's also a "Porcelain" playlist on Spotify with audiobook samples and a release planned for June 10 that pairs re-mastered Moby songs with inspirations at that time (see track list below).

Moby – Music From Porcelain
Disc One
1. "Mobility" – Moby
2. "Go! (Woodtick Mix)" – Moby
Paul w/Moby pals Stacy & Paul Johnson
3. "Ah Ah" – Moby
4. "Next Is the E" – Moby
5. "Rock the House" – Moby
6. "Thousand" – Moby
7. "Feeling So Real" – Moby
8. "God Moving over the Face of the Waters" – Moby
9. "Come on Baby" – Moby
10. "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" – Moby
11. "Honey" – Moby
12. "Natural Blues" – Moby
13. "Bodyrock"  – Moby
14. "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad" – Moby

Disc Two
1. "Break for Love" – Raze
2. "Pacific State" – 808 State
3. "Scenario" – A Tribe Called Quest
4. "Definition of a Track" – Precious
5. "I'll House You" – Jungle Bros
6. "Top Billin" – Audio Two
7. "Follow Me (Club Mix)" – Aly Us
8. "Raw" – Big Daddy Kane
9. "Pause" – Run DMC
10. "Energy Flash" – Joey Beltram
11. "Anasthesia (Out of History Mix)" – T99
12. "Feel So Real" – Dream Factory
13. "Plastic Dreams" – Jay Dee
14. "Set It Off" – Stafe

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Song by Local Natives, "Past Lives"

Local Natives (via Twitter)
L.A. based indie rock band Local Natives is back with a new song, "Past Lives," its first since 2013's sophomore album Hummingbird. This tune startles the listener into submission with a spare hymn-like intro of Taylor Rice's soulful singing "Save me." Then the music builds, adding pulsating rhythms and pleading guitar lines to create a familiar, complex instrumentation by the group until it all ends just as abruptly.

Rice elaborates, "The world is not static, it's made new over and over again. But we tend to live the same patterns in a loop, loving the same way, wrestling the same demons, the same dynamics playing out around us again and again. Untangling every moment and decision that led us to where we are now can make fate feel concrete, inescapable. But our world is not fixed, it's constantly reemerging, and we can change it into whatever we want." Take a listen via YouTube and be on the lookout for a new album soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Late Spring New Music Playlist

Here is another listening session of new music released this spring, full of heavy-weight veterans such as Radiohead, Travis, The Dandy Warhols and Peter Bjorn and John plus new bands such as LNZDRF, Bayonne and Sofi Tukker. There’s also some country twang found in White Denim, Frightened Rabbit and Band of Horses along with some fuzzed-out indie songs from Autolux, Caveman and Cullen Omori. Listen on Spotify or as a YouTube Playlist.


1. “What You Talking About?” – Peter Bjorn and John
Swedish indie pop band Peter Bjorn and John is ready with a seventh album since 1999, Breakin Point, full of hook happy tunes like the lead single, “What You Talking About?”  With a blast of feel-good synths that sound like a cheery whistle, the song bounces along even while bemoaning issues of communication.

2. “Cinnamon” – Cullen Omori
Chicago’s Cullen Omori (formerly of Smith Westerns) continues on a similar course solo with psych pop leanings for his solo debut, New Misery. The melodic song “Cinnamon” cleverly skims the surface as he sings about the euphoria of finding love.

3. “Get Out” – Frightened Rabbit
Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit recently released a fifth album, Painting of a Panic Attack, produced by Aaron Dessner of The National.  The band formed in 2003 and took a break after a long tour in support of the last album, 2013’s Pedestrian Verse, but returns to continue the journey with gritty, soulful indie rock.

4. “Casual Party” – Band of Horses
Southern indie rockers Band of Horses will soon release its fifth studio album since 2004, Why Are You OK. The single “Casual Party” is a full on musical love fest as the quintet takes the theme of meaningless social interactions.  

5. “Thank You” – White Denim
Austin rockers White Denim had to reinvent itself after two band members left, so singer James Petralli likens the new album Stiff to a debut release although it counts as number seven since 2006. The song “Thank You” finds the group’s roots rock intact, while the new kicky sound brings a new energy to the music.

6. “Burn the Witch” – Radiohead
English indie supergroup Radiohead lives up to the hype for its first song in five years, “Burn the Witch,” an epic swirl of strings, pulsating rock rhythms and singer Thom Yorke’s plaintive vocals. It serves as the single and title track for the group’s ninth album since 1985, the first in five years after 2011’s King of Limbs.

7. “Styggo” – The Dandy Warhols
The Dandy Warhols, Portland’s alt rock juggernauts, has released its ninth album called Distortland. The tune “Styggo” chugs along with the signature swagger of singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s vocals and confidence galore amid this quartet.

8. “Never Going Back” – Caveman
Brooklyn’s indie rock quintet Caveman will soon release its third album since 2010, Otero War. The teaser single “Never Going Back” presents a pop melody over a grand scale of band mechanics to bring the sound to another level.

9. “Lates” ­– Bayonne
Bayonne is the music project of multi-instrumentalist Roger Sellers, who likes to call it electronic/minimalist material. “Lates” is a dreamy track off the debut full length album, Spectrolite.

10. “Magnificent Time” – Travis
Scottish indie stalwarts Travis is ready with its eighth studio album since 1990, Everything At Once.   This carefree single, “Magnificent Time,” is fueled by a enthusiasm that other bands might find hard to fathom otherwise.

11. “Ocean” – Rogue Wave
California’s indie rock quartet Rogue Wave has released its sixth studio album since 2007, Delusions of Grand Fur. The zippy tune “Ocean” features the laid back vocals of frontman Zach Schwartz (a.k.a. Zach Rogue).

12. “Selectallcopy” – Autolux
L.A. alt rock trio Autolux returns after six years with a third album called Pussy’s Dead. Eclectic songs like “Selectallcopy” draw from influences such as post-punk, Krautrock and experimental electronic music.

13. “Hey Lion” – Sofi Tukker
New York-based duo Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern has made an impact on the strength of singles such as “Hey Lion,” a funky dance tune with a sparse instrumentation and sexy vocals. A self-titled EP is planned for later this year.

14. “Solitude”­ – M83
M83 is a French-American electronic music band led by Anthony Gonzalez, now based in L.A. The cinematic tune “Solitude” is the second single off Junk, a seventh studio album for the group since 2001.

15. “Beneath the Black Sea” – LNZNDRF
LNZNDRF, a new band touting post-punk and Krautrock influences, was formed by Ben Lanz (member of Beruit and collaborator with The National) and brothers Bryan and Scott Devendorf (both of The National).  “Beneath the Black Sea” is one of eight songs on the self-titled debut improvised and edited down from the recording session’s 30 plus minute jams.

16. “Neighboring in Telescopes”  – Eluvium
Eluvium is the moniker of ambient recording artist Matthew Cooper, who is based in Portland after being raised in Louisville. The floating soundscape of “Neighboring in Telescopes” is found on his eighth studio album of unreleased material from 2009 – 2015 called Curious Things.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New Song by Band of Horses, "Casual Party" (New Album Out in June)

Tyler Ramsey, Bill Reynolds, Ben Bridell, Creighton Barrett & Tyler Ramsey of BoH
Indie rock band with a Southern twang Band of Horses (BoH) is ready with its fifth studio album, Why Are You OK, to be released in June via Interscope Records and American Recordings. The new collection was announced in a scripted love note in video form on the BoH website, declaring "It's awesome and so are you."  This is the follow up to 2012's Mirage Rock, with producer powerhouse Rick Rubin in charge. I caught the group live at The Capitol Theatre during the summer of 2014 and the concert easily made it on my list of Top 25 Concerts of all time.

BoH songs have been a constant presence on my new music playlists here - hearing the single "Casual Party" was easy to i.d. with the grand scale of layered good vibes in the music. It's almost cathartic really, despite singer Ben Bridell's lament about the "awful conversation at the casual party." He recently told EW.com about writing the songs at home with his family of four daughters, "I work all night and take them to school in the morning. I'm the fucking scariest dad in the school, I'm sure." The twelve songs were then recorded in Stinson Beach, California and Woodstock, New York, with the usual collaboration between this tight group of guys. Check out the tune in this Korean karoke-style video and look for the hashtag ready album #YRUOK, sure to be worth a listen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New Song by Travis, "Magnificent Time" (New Album Out April 29)

Neil Primrose, Fran Healy, Andy Dunlop & Dougie Payne of Travis
Scottish indie band Travis is ready with its eighth album due later this month via Caroline Distribution called Everything At Once, the first since 2013's Where You Stand. I caught the band in NYC back then supporting that album, rolling out new songs among their vast back catalogue. Hits such as "Sing" and "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" turned into massive sing alongs with the crowd, as arms waved in communal bliss.

The new teaser single "Magnificent Time" rolled out last month is classic Travis, a joyful celebration of life in song with a chorus that comes across more like a rallying chant at a soccer – sorry, football – match.  In the video, singer Fran Healy drives a cardboard box car around in a colorful cartoon world with band members embedded in the walls and a cute group dance right when you think things couldn't get any sillier. The song alone will make you smile, take a listen and see for yourself!

Friday, April 8, 2016

New Song by LNZNDRF, "Beneath The Black Sea" (Debut Album Out)

Scott & Bryan Devendorf w/Ben Lanz (Photo via 4AD)
Now and then music will just appear out of nowhere by a band I've never heard of - such is the case with "Beneath The Black Sea" by LNZNDRF (pronounced "Lanzendorf"). It's a fuzzed-out jam of a song that had me hooked immediately and left me wanting to learn more about the band. Turns out the group is made up of members of The National and Beirut, two of my favorite bands - no wonder I was an instant fan!

Formed in 2011, the trio includes The National's Devendorf brothers (bass player Scott and drummer Bryan) along with Beirut member plus collaborator with The National and Sufjan Stevens, multi-instrumentalist Ben Lanz. (Lanz also has a musical project called Hoferlanz.) They bonded over early influences of Krautrock and post-punk, and decided to celebrate that spirit again. LNZDRF's self-titled debut album came out in February with eight tracks crafted from 30+ minute improvisations, recorded over two and a half days in a Cincinnati church (hometown of the Devendorfs). Listen to the "Beneath The Black Sea" in a live video here, and check out the rest of the album as well. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

New Song by Autolux, "Selectallcopy" (New Album Out & NYC Tour Date April 5)

Eugene Goreschter, Carla Azur & Greg Edwards of Autolux
L.A. noise pop trio Autolux has released its third album today, Pussy's Dead (30th Century Records). It is the first since 2010's Transit Transit, which landed the song "Audience No. 2" on my Winter 2011 New Music Playlist. The single for the new album, "Soft Scene" was shared last fall, but the lead track "Selectallcopy" caught my ear recently via KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.

The introduction alone is worth a listen, with all its sonic complexity. Autolux is not your typical mope rock band, all fuzz and desperation (although you gotta love the chorus bemoaning how "it's so so sad, to be happy all the time.") "Selectallcopy" is here, but the entire album is worth a listen.  The group is also heading out on tour -- dates include a stop at the Bowery Ballroom April 5, along with festivals like Coachella and Seattle's Sasquatch!