Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Compilation Album -- Red Hot + Arthur Russell (Due October 21)

The Red Hot Organization has released over fifteen compilation albums since 1989, as part of its dedication to fighting AIDS through pop culture. I was able to thank founder John Carlin firsthand during an interview for this ingenious method of supporting a worthy mission, one that continues to haunt those of us who watched friends with the disease given a death sentence during the 80s and 90s. The latest album will pay tribute to Arthur Russell, part of the music scene in NYC's East Village during that time until his untimely death at age 40 in 1992 from AIDS-related causes. He was a talented cellist, pianist, and singer, who easily shifted from classical to folk and disco when composing. 

Red Hot + Arthur Russell (due October 21 via Yep Roc) features 26 tracks by more than 20 artists. It includes many faves from my New Music Playlists: Hot Chip, Sufjan Stevens, Phosphorescent, Junip's José González, Devendra Banhart, Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry and Neon Indian's Alan Palomo (as VEGA INTL). Hot Chip is a perfect fit for one of Russell's dance tunes, as witnessed in a preview video showing some behind the scenes recording of "Go Bang."  Check it out along with the track list below, and add this album to your list for fall listening.

Master Mix: Red Hot + Arthur Russell Tracklist:
1.     Jose Gonzalez – “This Is How We Walk On The Moon”
2.     Lonnie Holley – “Soon-To-Be Innocent Fun (Interlude)”
3.     Robyn – “Tell You (Today)”
4.     Hot Chip – “Go Bang”
5.     Sufjan Stevens – “A Little Lost”
6.     Lonnie Holley – “In The Light Of The Miracle (Interlude)”
7.     Richard Reed Parry, Little Scream, Sam Amidon, Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld – “Keeping Up”
8.     Liam Finn, Ernie Brooks + Peter Zummo – “This Love Is Crying”
9.     Rubblebucket + Nitemoves – “Eli”
10.   The Revival Hour – “Hiding Your Present from You”
11.   Sam Amidon – “Lucky Cloud”
12.   Devendra Banhart – “Losing My Taste For The Night Life”
13.   Phosphorescent – “You Can Make Me Feel Bad”
14.   Blood Orange – “Is It All Over My Face & Tower Of Meaning”
15.   Scissor Sisters – “That’s Us/Wild Combination”
16.   VEGA INTL. – “Arm Around You”
17.   Oh Mercy – “Planted A Thought”
18.   Lonnie Holley – “Hop On Down (Interlude)”
19.   Cults – “Being It”
20.   Richard Reed Parry – “Just A Blip”
21.   Glen Hansard – “I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face”
22.   Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “Nobody Wants A Lonely Heart”
23.   The Autumn Defense – “Oh Fernanda Why”
24.   Alexis Taylor – “Our Last Night Together”
25.   Lonnie Holley – “The Deer In The Forest (Interlude)”
26.   Redding Hunter – “Close My Eyes”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Upcoming Releases - Listen to Caribou New Song "Can't Do Without You"

All of a sudden there's a bunch of upcoming releases; I'm counting the days until their drop dates (see list below). One of them is from Dan Snaith, the Canadian mastermind behind the electronica band Caribou (as well as Manitoba and Daphni). His gyrating, funky tune "Odessa" caught my ear with heavy airplay on KCRW back in 2010, and landed a spot in my Late Fall 2010 Playlist plus a Top 20+ Songs of 2010. Based on this one song I was thrilled to catch Snaith live at Moogfest 2010, where he huddled as a quartet behind a drum kit in a corner of the arena stage. (Snaith plays drums, guitar, bass and synths but chooses percussion when performing concerts.) With openers, there's plenty of equipment announcing the next band behind the group and taking up space, but I loved how Snaith felt a need to be even more scrunched together with the rest of the musicians.  It also made the performance much more intense, as they fed off of each other's energy while the sound resonated in the cavernous space before a huge crowd.
Dan Snaith (photo via Merge Records)
The lead single "Can't Do With You" is filled with disjointed samples leading into a fluid groove that finds that "Odessa" bliss once again.  It is off the sixth studio album, Our Love, to be released October 7 via Merge Records.  Caribou will be appearing during the four-day music festival celebrating the Merge 25th Anniversary on July 26 in Carborro, NC before a full tour this fall, stopping at Webster Hall in NYC November 11.  (Merge also recently partnered with Google Play for a label doc and exclusive songs in honor of 25 years.) Check out the song here and other releases -- I've marked my calendar already!

August 5 - Spoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
August 26 - The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers (Matador Records)
September 9 - Delta Spirit, Into The Wild (Dualtone Records)
September 9 - Avi Buffalo, At Best Cuckold (Sub Pop Records)
September 9 - Interpol, El Pinto (Matador)
September 16 - Generationals, Alix (Polyvinyl)
September 23 - Sondre Lerche, Please (Mona Records)
September 23 - Tweedy, Sukierae (dBpm Records)
September 30 - Christopher Owens, A New Testament (Turnstile Music)
October 7 - Caribou, Our Love (Merge Records)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Beck @ Hammerstein Ballroom NYC June 30

Fans filled the gracious space of NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom June 30th for Beck's first Manhattan show since 2008, where they were treated to the artist cranking out new songs and old hits with the same musical intensity.  Just a year ago, Beck appeared content presenting an acoustic folky vibe and I thought I might never see some of my favorite songs ever in a concert setting. For decades he has composed whatever interested him at the time, without any preconceived notions not to mix and match genres. But there he was on stage, leading his band through a deep catalogue of alt music hits. Beck chose to begin with the sweet tune "Golden Age" from  Sea Change (2002). This, along with "Lost Cause" from the same collection, mixed in well with the songs off the new release, Morning Phase, as Beck has described these are companion albums in concept.

He explained that since it had been so long since a "proper concert" in Manhattan, they needed take extra time to "catch up." Beck disclosed how things would start off a bit slow before getting rowdy, and he was right.  After the shimmering acoustics of "Wave," "Waking Light" and "Blue Moon" the stage lit up with the churning intro for "Devil's Haircut" (the video for this song off 1996's Odelay shows Beck walking around NYC carrying a boombox).  Standing on the side in front of a speaker, I could feel the sound waves pulse in time. Beck has always had a knack for pulling off crazy movement while performing in an endearing and slightly geeky way -- he obviously enjoys pulling off these complicated songs with a fresh intensity. The dance party continued as more classic Beck tunes followed: "Black Tambourine,""New Pollution" and "Think I'm in Love" (where he broke into Donna Summer's "I'm in Love" just like Franz Ferdinand did at last fall's ACL Music Festival!)  He brilliantly broke out "Loser" mid set, saving "Where It's At" for an epic closer.  Sean Lennon even joined in on tambourine after serving as a solid warm up presence with his psych rock band, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. Check out the full set list below, along with some videos from the night.

Early birds line w/Empire State building in view
My collection - remember CDs?

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Fab Faux @ The Capitol Theatre, NY June 28

Fab Faux founder Will Lee
The Fab Faux is more than just a Beatles tribute band. For over seventeen years, this group of overly accomplished musicians have dedicated themselves to performing songs by The Beatles live in concert and of course many of the songs never existed this way. The entire White Album was revisited June 28 at The Capitol Theatre, a lovingly refurbished venue in Port Chester, NY. This double album, released in 1968 without a name or iconography beyond the original fab four's moniker, is more a collage of creative minds as the band was falling apart. Yet the songs still remain incredibly strong -- especially when presented live.

Bassist Will Lee of the Late Show with David Letterman founded The Fab Faux and makes a fine frontman, strutting the stage in white pants with a peace sign as a belt buckle (changing from a black ruffled shirt to a white one at the break between discs). He even found a way across the balcony and back again, bringing this group of musical all stars into synch.  Lee graciously introduced harpist Erin Hill, the Hogshead Horns and the Creme Tangerine Strings, all on hand to flesh out the sound, and chatted in glowing terms about how The Beatles oevre is truly "our classical music." He gamely tossed out souvenir guitar picks throughout the show, admitting that yes he really did hit someone in the eye once. I managed to snag one during the night, a nice companion piece for one from a Letterman visit long ago...

Members Jimmy Vivino (Conan), Rich Pagano, Jack Petruzzelli and Frank Agnello were joined by Jim Boggia to offer this complex mix of amazing Beatles tunes back to back.  And as if thirty songs from the White Album wasn't enough, including the eight minute performance piece "Revolution 9" that Lee called a "guilty pleasure," the band returned with two singles as an encore. They cranked out the electric version "Revolution" to rock out the crowd before they ended the night happily singing along to "Hey Jude." But the song that took me right back to the day was the vampy, "Why Don't We Do It in the Road," which I would sing at the top of my lungs after climbing my favorite tree in the yard of my childhood home. (I can only image what the neighbors thought!) Relive that concert moment in the video on YouTube here or below, along with a few photos taken at the Cap's bar called Garcias.

Meeting Will Lee after the show 
Jim Boggia and my perma-date Paul

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

YouTube Playlist of Summer 2014 New Music Playlist Songs

This YouTube playlist has a few videos that make a direct connection between a passion for music and the freedom of movement in the form of dance (Todd Terje and The Horrors) or other movement, even bouncing on a bed (Waters). Many are just official audio placed online with album cover artwork, but some boast full production with a backstory separate from the song (Lykke Li and Hamilton Leithauser).  I'm still a fan of being able to see a band at work, playing instruments whether in earnest or not plus I can't resist at least one live video (Jimi Goodwin and Conor Oberst in a gig on a previous post).  And I had to replace the De Lux song with another, "It All Works All the Time" as there wasn't anything to be had for "Moments." 

Link to listen and watch the montage here or click video below. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer 2014 New Music Playlist

Summer is finally here!  Fire up the barbie and get out those picnic blankets, along with this playlist of new tunes from recent releasesto provide the perfect soundtrack.  This compilation of seventeen songs is culled from a bounty of new music out of the West Coast, especially San Francisco (Waters, Papercuts and Fresh & Onlys), plus an international mix from across the pond, especially the U.K. (Eno*Hyde, The Horrors, Damon Albarn and Jimi Goodwin).  Listen up here and see what catches your ear, enjoy! 

1. “Inspector Norse” – Todd Terje
Danish producer Terje Olse (a.k.a. Todd Terje) recently released a debut album called It’s Album Time. This closing track, “Inspector Norse” exudes fun, over-the-top electronic nu disco.

2. “Got to My Head” – Waters
This new five-piece band from San Francisco is gaining notice with the strength of the punchy power pop found in this single, “Got to My Head.”

3. “Daddy’s Car” – Eno*Hyde  
Legendary producer/composer Brian Eno channels yet another musical vision, this time with U.K. group Underworld’s singer Karl Hyde for an album called Someday World.  The layers of synths, vocals and Hyde’s guitar present a full band approach for a song about paternal protection.

4. “Keys” – Hooray For Earth
This lush electronic rock track is a teaser single for the upcoming second studio album from NYC based quartet Hooray For Earth.  Singer and multi-instrumentalist Noel Heroux creates a sonic world bordering on noise-pop with an anthem-like approach.

5. “Coming Down (featuring Matt Berninger)” ­– Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Philadelphia based indie rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (CYHSY) is back with a new lineup, which includes singer Alec Ounsworth and bassist/producer Matt Wong plus an added emphasis on electronics. “Coming Down” is a highlight of the fourth album, Only Run, enlisting the distinctive vocals of Matt Berninger from The National punctuating the tune.

6. “So Now You Know” – The Horrors
Veteran English indie rock band The Horrors returns with a fourth studio album aptly called Luminous.  The five-piece embraces a shimmering, lush sound with full-on production under the guidance of frontman/lead vocalist Faris Badwan.

7. “I’m Not Ready” – Chappo
Brooklyn based quartet Chappo released an infectious single, “I’m Not Ready,” ahead of its sophomore album, Future Former Self.  With Baton Rouge native Alex Chappo as lead singer/songwriter and guitarist, this psych rock band gamely incorporates a danceable beat with synth pop flourishes.

8. “Still Knocking at the Door” – Papercuts
Papercuts is the musical project of San Francisco singer/songwriter Jason Quever since 2000, with a sixth album called Life Among the Savages.  The signature baroque pop is fleshed out with studio musicians and a touring band as some of the new songs require a team approach.

9.  “Moments” – De Lux
DFA label duo De Lux is clearly inspired by the New Wave music scene of the late 70s and early 80s in this song off the debut album Voyage. Sean Guerin and Isaac Franco embrace it so eagerly that it’d be a shame not to join in this post-disco dance-punk party.

10. “No Rest for the Wicked” – Lykke Li
Swedish singer/songwriter Lykke Li has released a third studio album, I Never Learn. Her powerhouse vocals soar over a synth foundation in this solid single for the collection, “No Rest for the Wicked.”

11. “Moving to the Left” – Woods
Brooklyn based folk rock band Woods finds a psychedelic twist for the laid back vibe in “Moving to the Left.” This latest jam via singer/songwriter Jeremy Earl is off of the sixth album, With Light and With Love.

12. “Oh! Whiskey” – Jimi Goodwin
U.K. band Doves is on hiatus, so frontman/singer Jimi Goodwin has released a debut solo album called Odludek.  With his sage vocal renderings resurfacing in “Oh! Whiskey,” this song veers through similar style transitions with guest musicians filling in as a backing band.

13. “Alexandra” – Hamilton Leithauser
Hamilton Leithauser is another frontman/singer finding new solo musical waters in a debut album, Black Hours, as NYC based indie stalwart The Walkmen has dispersed.  There’s an emotional urgency in “Alexandra,” with a stomping beat and Leithauser’s pleading vocals.

14. “Hundreds of Ways” – Conor Oberst
Inexhaustible singer/songwriter Conor Oberst recently released a sixth solo album (not to mention others since 1994 with Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk and Desparecidos), Upside Down Mountain. “Hundreds of Ways” is an upbeat tune in this new collection full of adult themes as Oberst makes his way into new territory, which now includes married life. 

15. “Animal of One” – The Fresh & Onlys
San Francisco garage rock band The Fresh & Onlys is back with a fourth album, House of Spirits.  The quartet mixes psych rock with a Californian aesthetic in this song, “Animal of One.”

16. “Supernova” – Ray LaMontagne
“Supernova” is the lead single and title track of a fifth album from singer/songwriter and New Hampshire native Ray LaMontagne. His earthy vocals and acoustic attitude infuse this lighthearted tune, along with other new offerings.

17. “Lonely Press Play” – Damon Albarn
Best known for his musical past with Blur and The Gorrillaz, British singer/songwriter Damon Albarn is released his first solo album, Everyday Robots. “Lonely Press Play” is a single for this definitive release, with his signature vocals contemplating a life on the road over a slow jam.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Song by Conor Oberst "You Are Your Mother's Child" (New Album & NYC Tour Date July 29)

Conor Oberst (Photo via Nonesuch Records)
Conor Oberst is back with a new solo album, Upside Down Mountain, which finds the prolific songwriter delving into adult responsibilities as found in the new song, "You Are Your Mother's Child."  It's a sentimental slideshow of a boy's life as told in lyrical milestones by the father, intimately pared down to acoustic guitar and Oberst's signature sincere voice, at once world-weary and yet still youthful.  Preview the song during a recent televised performance on CBS below, along with a video for "A Hundred Ways," which has already been picked for my next new music playlist.

The collection is the first since 2011's The People's Key, an album with his band Bright Eyes. (The closing song from that album, "One for You, One for Me," was chosen for my 2012 Romantic Songs Playlist in honor of Valentine's Day that year and is definitely one of the most heartfelt songs ever.) This time around Oberst worked with Swedish folk-rock vocal duo First Aid Kit, along with multi-instrumentalist Blake Mills and bassist Macey Taylor.  For touring, the band Dawes has been enlisted as a suitable back up, and in some cases serving as opener as well.  They will be appearing in NYC at the Central Park SummerStage on July 29.