Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Song by The Go! Team "The Scene Between" (Album Due March 24)

Ian Parton (Photo via Memphis Industries)
U.K. band The Go! Team is back with a new video for the title track of the upcoming release, The Scene Between (due March 24 via Memphis Industries).  This is the latest album since 2011's Blackouts, with ensuing rumors that it could be the last effort by the band. So I was thrilled to hear this news and dive into the world of exuberance that is The Go! Team, as embodied in this psychedelic video. As directed by James Slater, it stars a choir of everyday people in neon robes amid majestic landscapes from around the world. The songs have always had way too much going on yet it somehow all makes sense, while elevating the listener into a borderless community of race and musical genres.

Brighton's Ian Parton had this vision to mix Sonic Youth-style guitars and double Dutch chants, plus elements of classic hip hop, electro and over the top Bollywood productions. The first album (2004's Thunder, Lightning, Strike) was created in his parent's kitchen, so he had to put together a band when asked to play festivals after this successful debut. The breakout song, "The Power Is On," found its way onto commercial and movie soundtracks, but I remember "We Just Won't Be Defeated" as my favorite. Its unapologetic simple piano introduction brings on a "Let's Rock" in vocals and attitude, along with an uplifting chorus of horns. This edge of cacophony is found in the new song as well, allowing a refreshing humanistic world view and inviting us along.  Listen to "The Scene Below" with the video below -- just don't be shy to add some jazz hands of your own.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Birthday Playlist of Random Songs Heard January 15, 2015

Birthday dinner with oyster shooters & our BYO OLD BAY
Like my post last year, I started a list of songs heard during my birthday that seemed chosen especially for me. So here's another playlist of music that appeared throughout the day as I tuned into fave radio stations KEXP, KCRW and WFUV's The Alternate Side online or otherwise in the kitchen, at my desk or in the car. I also enjoyed John In the Morning's pick of "Spiritual High Part III" by Moodswings, sampling the famous words of Martin Luther King with whom I share my birthday. (I'll post it below, always inspirational but especially appropriate as we head into the long MLK holiday weekend.) There was also a live session with Panda Bear on KCRW -- listen to it in the archives here -- that I enjoyed midday as if I was in the room.  And on my way home from a yoga class later I heard that Field Report song, "Home (Leave the Lights On)" that I wrote about during an emotional time last fall. During this listen however I turned the corner and saw my own cozy house lit up in welcome, simply because I had thought to turn on the lights before I left. It was a nod to being another year older and a nice reminder to take care of myself.

Take a listen on Spotify here or at the widget on the home screen.

1. "Dreams Never End" - New Order
2. "Follow" - Mr. Gnome
3. "All My Friends" - LCD Soundsystem
4. "Where It's At" - Beck
5. "First Song" - Band of Horses
6. "Jumping Jack Flash" - Rolling Stones
7. "Home (Leave a Light On)" - Field Report

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Here's to 2015 -- New Releases (Listen to "Daffodils" by Mark Ronson w/Kevin Parker of Tame Impala)

New Year's Eve Festivities in Easton, Maryland via The Star Democrat
Happy New Year to my fellow new music fiends! After celebrating the arrival of 2015 worldwide (even the Eastern Shore of Maryland where I spent much of 2014 was featured on CNN, although it was probably just chosen so Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin could make raunchy crab jokes) winter has settled in with a vengeance here in the Northeast. It seems a perfect time to focus on future releases that will warm my soul with new tunes in the coming months. After pouring over comprehensive lists of upcoming albums, I found plenty of favorite bands to get excited about (see list below).

Mark Ronson's song with Bruno Mars "Uptown Funk" might be everywhere, but his "Daffodils" is a catchy groove with floating psychedelic vocals by Kevin Parker of Tame Impala -- an instant favorite for my next playlist and I crank up the volume every time it gets a play on KEXP or KCRW.  Check it out below and also if you haven't heard the new song "Take My Side" by Will Butler head over to Soundcloud. The kid brother of Arcade Fire singer Win Butler is staking his claim to a solo career after various side projects. As he asks in song, "Are you gonna take my side?" I'm already there.

January 13 - Mark Ronson, Uptown Special (Sony Music Entertainment)
January 13 - Panda Bear, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (Domino Recording Company)
January 20 - The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (Capitol Records)
January 20 - Belle & Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador Records)
January 27 - The Dodos, Individ (Polyvinyl Records)
February 10 - Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear (Sub Pop Records)
February 17 - José González, Vestiges & Claws (Mute)
February 24 - Dan Deacon, Gliss Riffer (Domino Recording Company)
March 1 - Jon Hopkins, Late Night Tales (Night Time Stories Ltd)
March 3 - Modest Mouse, Strangers to Ourselves (Epic Records)
March 10 - Will Butler, Policy (Merge Records)
March 24 - The Cribs, For All My Sisters (Sonic Blew/Sony Red)
March 24 - The Go! Team, The Scene (Memphis Industries
March 31 - Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
April 7 - Toro Y Moi, What For? (Carpark Records)
April 27 - Mew, +/- (Play It Again Sam)
TBA - My Morning Jacket, Beach House, Band of Horses, Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, Django Django and Tame Impala!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top 20+ Songs of 2014 With YouTube Playlist

I put together this Top 20 plus songs of 2014 list while putting up holiday decorations -- thinking over the year and culling the songs that meant so much to me (while finding the best order of presentation of course!) If I had to pick a Song of the Year, I'd add my vote to others that chose Future Islands' "Seasons Waiting on You." Along with the breakout performance by frontman Samuel Herring on David Letterman that was so crazy passionate and borderline creepy, the tune encapsulated all three genres listed on their Wikipedia page with gusto:  synthpop, alternative rock and indie pop.  It's simply a great song that doesn't get old with repeated listens.

Yet the song that yielded the most meaning for me this year would have to be Field Report's "Home (Leave the Lights On)."  As I wrote about in a post back in October, hearing this song in a different context gave this sublime tune a personal resonance that cut to my core. It's going to be one of those many songs that will take me back to that time and place in the fall of 2014.

Listen via the YouTube playlist below or at the link here. Here's to another fine year of new music!

1. "Inspector Norse"  Todd Terje 
2. "Can't Do With Without You" − Caribou 
3. "Dangerous" − Big Data 
4. "Red Eyes" − The War On Drugs 
5. "Seasons Waiting On You" − Future Islands 
6. "Come a Little Closer" − Cage the Elephant 
7. "Digital Witness" − St. Vincent 
8. "Fall In Love" − Phantogram 
9. "Do You" − Spoon 
10. "Home (Leave the Lights On)" − Field Report 
11. "Step Out" − José  González 
12. "Past Life" − Lost In the Trees 
13. "The Tower" − Wye Oak 
14. "Alexandra"  − Hamilton Leithauser 
15. "Handreds of Ways" − Conor Oberst 
16.  "Blue Moon" − Beck 
17.  "Summer Noon" − Tweedy 
18. "Woke Up To the Light" − Strand of Oaks 
19. "Lonely Press Play" − Damon Albarn 
20. "New York Morning" − Elbow 
21. "Moving To the Left" − Woods 
22. "Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)" − Ages And Ages

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top Ten Releases of 2014 With Video Highlights

Here is my slightly ranked list of Top Ten Releases for 2014 -- with Spoon definitely taking the top spot.  The best thing about compiling such a list is revisiting these songs that became the soundtrack to my life this year, and remembering how these albums are all worth many more plays from start to finish.  I was also lucky to see three of the bands/artists over the course of the year so I've pulled videos from the  NMMatterscorp YouTube channel from those shows: Spoon, Beck, and Elbow.  For the others, I looked for live performances in order to imagine hearing the music being played live: from official gigs at CBS, an AMEX event, and Pitchfork festivals, along with studio sessions from my favorite online radio stations KCRW and KEXP. Check out anything you haven't yet, and enjoy!

1. Spoon, They Want My Soul
After taking some time off since 2010's Transference, Austin-bred band Spoon reconvened last year to put together what may be its best album yet.  With the strength of the singles "Rent I Pay," "Do You," and "Inside Out," I've heard more Spoon airplay than ever, never a band thing. Spoon opened up for Arcade Fire when we caught the final night of the tour in Montreal, where many in the crowd had not yet heard of them (thus the chatter in the video, but listen to the squeals of delight as uber frontman Britt Daniel approaches each side of the stage!) The guy next to us vowed to purchase the new album immediately and tell all his friends about Spoon when he returned home.

2. Beck, Morning Phase
When we first listened to this album (studio collection number twelve for this prolific musician), husband/music guru Paul exclaimed "Who broke Beck's heart?" It's that melancholy side of the guy heard back in 2002 with Sea Change, all slower meters and dreamy textures.  But at least it wasn't the folky Beck seen at festivals the last go around (still say he could loose the goofy black hat).  At least I could finally check him off my concert bucket list after a night at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC -- a night split in half between the new and yes, all the old hits!

3. Elbow, The Take Off and Landing of Everything
The sound of Guy Garvey's voice brings warmth and depth of meaning to any lyric, so why not elongate the title of the group's sixth album too? Everything reads like a stream of consciousness travel journal after time Garvey spent in NYC where "folks are nice to Yoko."  I caught the U.K. band in May at Webster Hall NYC, where a couple took this romantic music to another level with a marriage proposal. 

4. Wye Oak, Shriek
Some Wye Oak fans didn't know what to make of the duo's fourth album, after singer Jenn Wasner learned the bass and layers of electronics were added without the signature guitar sound.  I gladly heralded this move into complexity and Shriek was on heavy rotation all summer.  

5. Conor Oberst, Upside Down Mountain 
Conor Oberst released his sixth album as a solo artist, connecting to his story telling vibe and touring with the band Dawes as backing musicians.  The sound is at once full yet immediate, baring his Nebraskan soul in songs about adult responsibilities and looking for meaning in the every day. 

6. Caribou, One Love
Canadian Dan Snaith released his sixth studio album as Caribou, expanding the electronica with genres such as hip hop and  R&B, plus contributions by Jessy Lanza and Owen Pallett.  When he plays live, Snaith takes over the percussion and performs with a live band clustered together in musical solidarity while the party in the audience carries on...

7. TV on the Radio, Seeds (live from KCRW)
TV on the Radio released its fifth album in November, so I'm still uncovering the many attributes to each song. The band is now split between Brooklyn and L.A. but as a group remains as solid as ever. (This is the first album without their bass player Gerard Smith, who died of cancer in 2011.)

8. Hamilton Leithauser, Black Hours
When I fretted about The Walkmen taking a hiatus, it was really the idea of not hearing Hamilton Leithauser's ardent vocals without a solid band base that had me worried.  His solo album seemed a bit solitary in spirit, but not in musicianship. The entire collection appears ready made for a full listen seamlessly from song to song.  

9.  The War on Drugs, Lost In a Dream 
The mastery and wash of guitar reverb permeates this third album by Philadelphia's The War on Drugs. Singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel had trouble adjusting after the successful tour behind 2011's Slave Ambient, resulting in these profoundly emotional songs.

10. St. Vincent, St. Vincent 
St. Vincent's Annie Clark not only garnered attention for this self-titled fourth album, but for her choreographed stage shows performed with her usual epic shredding on guitar.  Her songs cut to the quick musically and lyrically, while remaining deeply ambiguous and intriguing at every listen. 

Future Islands, Singles
Vacationer, Relief

Friday, December 5, 2014

Yo La Tengo @ Town Hall NYC December 5th

James McNew w/married couple Georgia Hubley & Ira Kaplan
Devoted Yo La Tengo (YLT) fans streamed into the Town Hall in Manhattan without the storied venue Maxwell's on the band's home turf of Hoboken, New Jersey across the Hudson River. This relocated annual holiday show also celebrated the group's thirtieth anniversary and the reissue of 1993's Painful LP as Extra Painful, loaded with bonus tracks.  I was one of the few newer devotees  in the crowd, after being smitten with their thirteenth album Fade which I picked for my list of  Top Ten Releases of 2013.  As they took the stage with waves, the strains of my very favorite song "Ohm" broke the game plan. I figured I'd be waiting for this song to be rolled out much later, maybe even during an encore. This seemed to make sense, since it's the most popular tune with the cute videos from their last album -- full of simple truths such as in the chorus: "But nothing ever stays the same, nothing's explained." The lilting melody chugs along a slightly messy foundation like life itself, and I couldn't help but hold my heart to express the inner emotional pull.

After hearing the song you most want to hear first, then what?  Busting conventions is what this group is all about, made clear from the very start of the concert. So I sat back and enjoyed the ride, as the band plucked from its vast catalogue with only one other pick from Fade.  (It was another easy going tune with three-art harmonies, "It's Not Enough," rounding out that genre along with "Upside-Down" from 1992's May I Sing With Me and the super sweet song about first love, "Our Way To Fall" from 2000's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.)  In softer moments, drummer Georgia Hubley takes the lead vocals and quiets her instruments to hush the sound for sublime songs like "Little Eyes" from 2003's Summer Sun and "Tears are In Your Eyes" also from And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.  YLT also loves to indulge in psychedelic jams, usually as a way to crank up a song to conclusion, however the instrumental "I Heard You Looking Pain," from that reissue Painful, seemed to drag on with the volume way too loud. 

Yo La Tengo's Hoboken cohorts The Feelies warmed up the reflective glow from the adoring audience in stripes and plaids, and returned to fill in as needed. For example, Dave Stamm joined YLT for two early songs he originally recorded with the band, adding to the rockabilly with jangly guitar lines. The night ended with both groups on stage gamely covering The Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty In Pink," almost thirty years to the day the song ended a set at Maxwells -- now that's longevity. Videos and set lists below...

The Feelies Set List
Lo Ya Tengo Set List

Moby Octopad
Tears Are In Your Eyes
Mr. Tough
Is That Enough
Little Eyes
The Cone of Silence
The River of Water
Yellow Sarong
Sudden Organ
Barnaby, Suddenly Working
From a Motel 6 
I Heard You Looking 
Our Way to Fall

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

YouTube Playlist of Fall 2014 New Music Playlist

This time around the videos for my latest playlist yielded no straight up band in action footage, which I have mentioned before is my favorite kind. Getting a glimpse of a group doing their thing is always a treat, whether in a montage of gigs or any livestream opportunity. The exception here is the Operators' song "Start Again," as I chose a live session from my fave morning listening station KEXP since there was no other official video. Not to complain however, as I was able to see this new band's set up and witness the vibes between the new personnel and rock veteran Dan Boekner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and Divine Fits) -- interesting indeed.

I also enjoyed the dancing found in the videos for Foxygen and Sondre Lerche. Californian duo Foxygen brings out colorful characters in a bleak office setting for this psychedelic groove and I especially loved the back up dancers. (Sign me up!) Meanwhile Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche shows off his solo moves in a stylish white fitted shirt, although I had a hard time believing he could not attract any partners.

The TV on the Radio, Ariel Pink and Field Report videos were already featured on the blog, but I relished seeing them again in context of the Fall New Music Playlist. Plus kudos for Populous for producing an arty animated video to capture the listener's attention, and Tom Vek's colorful old school Hollywood glamour infuses an effective use of strobe lighting to mimic musical blasts. The September Girls and Cold War Kids opted for black and white footage to tell their song's stories while Bear In Heaven filmed a series of bleak NYC scenes. Sorry to include only an album teaser for my favorite Purling Hiss song, "Learning Slowly,"and Flying Lotus's entire album is up on YouTube but not the track "Turkey Dog Coma." Rounding things out is Zero 7's cover artwork for visuals along with lyric videos for Motopony and The Drums (did I really need to know how to sing EEH EEH OOH OOH?) Check it out below or on the NMMatterscorp YouTube page.