Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Billy Bragg's New Tune "Never Buy The Sun"

Billy Bragg is in New York City spearheading “The Big Busk,” a musical collaboration at Lincoln Center with acoustic guitar wielding members of the public as well as a few dates at the City Winery. While in town he appeared on WFUV.org with dj Claudia Marshall, playing some tunes and pumping up the events before heading out on a family road trip which includes a stop at a favorite American city, Asheville, North Carolina. But it the showstopper was a song recently written in reaction to Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun scandal back home in England. It eloquently gives props to the people of Liverpool, who have been boycotting the newspaper ever since the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster killed almost one hundred people and injured hundreds at a football/soccer match. The skewed sensationalistic reporting of the incident horrified the port city. Bragg reasons in the song, “Never Buy The Sun,” that the Scousers (as the Liverpudlians are known after a local dish) are the only ones who can “can hang there with their heads high.” Bragg marveled at the simple YouTube video gaining an audience before a studio recording is even released, a new tool he welcomes to get his message out. Bragg wrote the song on a Friday and performed it on a Saturday at the Garforth Arts Festival. He also told Marshall that there’s a long history of topical songs that the next generation needs to carry on.

YouTube Video "Never Buy The Sun" here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Portugal. The Man. live session & album preview on KCRW

Recently, two songs from Portugal. The Man. caught my ear only to learn that the online radio airplay was only due to the availability of select advance copies. “So American” and “Got It All” are already favorites so it was great to experience the entire release, In the Mountain In the Cloud, as part of the Album Preview series on KCRW. The day it dropped on July 19th, the band showed up for a live session on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. It’s always interesting to witness a band playing live, and Portugal. The Man’s collective energy surges from the radio station’s studio. In the interview, singer John Gourley talks about his upbringing in Alaska and how he still writes best in his bedroom back there, surrounded by family and a way of life found nowhere else. A video for “Sleep Forever" was created in Gourley’s back yard with family dogs ready for their close up and scenes of untouched beauty. The band is based in Portland now, but this take on psych rock sounds completely homegrown for their sixth collection of songs.
YouTube Video "Sleep Forever"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Washed Out @ Bowery Ballroom July 11th

After a summer day with temps topping 90 degrees in New York City, the AC was cranked high at the Bowery Ballroom for the chillwave of Washed Out. Ernest Greene began this musical project two years ago in his bedroom down in Georgia, but now he’s touring as a five piece in support of the new full-length release, Within and Without. While the group displayed a lack of camaraderie,* it didn't hurt the enthusiasm of Greene or the crowd. The image of a musician holed up in a room is long gone as he was frontman ready for the sold out show – belting lead vocals into the mike while dancing at his keyboards and encouraging the audience to life. He took to pumping his arms up and clapping along, shouting “Come on, come on!”

The set wasn’t quite an hour long but it covered the bases. The undulating synths of “Hold Out” off the Life of Leisure EP opened the show, as footage of waves flashed on the screen behind the band. Next a new song, “Echoes” was introduced, with soaring melodies no longer buried and double tambourines to provide a bigger sound to the live mix. Greene asked for help with singing “New Theory,” as the crowd exploded with recognition of the hit. A sax player was brought on stage for a solo in “Soft” and stayed for a revised arrangement of “Feel It All Around.” Then the lead off track of the new release, “Eyes Be Closed,” served as the encore with the band exiting to the final chords of the song continuing from an empty stage.

*Just learned that the keyboard player is Greene's high school sweetheart now wife (ouch!) She did seem dragged into it all, even my camera guy said how she could have at least smiled now and then...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer 2011 New Music Playlist

With the 4th of July holiday over, summer is in full swing and here's a new tunes playlist ready to provide a soundtrack for everything on the list. From picnics and BBQs to hanging at the beach, the season is just meant to be lived outdoors. A bevy of new releases filled much of the space, rounded out by a few tracks saved from earlier in the year since they seemed more suited for summer. Link here, enjoy!

1. Make Some Noise/Beastie Boys
Doing their thing since 1979, the Beastie Boys return with a new release, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. (The part one was put aside as Adam "MCA" Yauch underwent treatment for cancer.) This lead track is unapologetically recognizable as a Beastie Boys creation, finding new influences from the current music scene.

2. Lost Weekend/Art Brut
UK's indie rock band Art Brut is also back with a new collection of songs, titled Brilliant! Tragic! This is the first single off the release, full of their signature wry lyrics and quirky mix of influences.

3. King Of the Beach/Wavves
Though this song came out last fall as part of a release with the same name, it seemed destined for a summer playlist. Nathan Williams is the mastermind behind the music, updating the surf music sound with indie's current love of lo-fi production from his hometown of San Diego.

4. All of Us/Painted Palms
The lush synth-pop of Painted Palms is the happy result of collaborating cousins Christopher Prudhomme and Reese Donohue. Their EP Canopy was put together via email and phone conversations with files passed over the internet, but they quickly put together a five-piece band to tour with Of Montreal.

5. Work/The Bewitched Hands
This French indie pop band recently dropped "On the Top of Our Heads" from their name, but the new release, Birds and Drums, is filled of their fuzzed out compositions per usual. In "Work," the group expands the sound for a crowd sing along which makes room for a classic guitar solo.

6. Stone Rollin'/Raphael Saadiq
The R & B singer/producer Raphael Saadiq put together Stone Rollin after playing most of the instruments and adding his signature vocal style. It's a collection of retro cool that's perfect for hot nights of summer.

7. Two Against One/Daniel Luppi and Danger Mouse
This song is the result of a five-year project by composer and arranger Daniel Luppi with producer Danger Mouse. The release, Rome, serves as an homage to the soundtracks of classic Italian Spaghetti westerns with vocal contributions from Jack White and Nora Jones, but never gets stuck in past conventions.

8. Seer/Motopony
Motopony hails from the Seattle scene as fronted by Fashion Designer and songwriter Daniel Blue. His bluesy vocals fit perfectly over the funky grooves of the band, while instruments play off of one another in a burst of energy. "Seer" is off their self-titled, debut release.

9. Buffalo/The Deloreans
This band from Louisville, Kentucky, calls its music 'eccentric power pop' with confidence. "Buffalo" is off of their second release American Craze, with soaring wall of sound choruses about the thrill of being animals in pastures.

10. True Loves/Hooray For Earth
Hooray for Earth takes their name from a Nickelodeon cartoon and is now based in NYC, having moved from the Boston area. "True Loves" is also the name of their first full-length release, where this track finds a place smack in the middle with a power chord intro.

11. Neat Little Rows/Elbow
12. The Birds/Elbow
The UK alt band Elbow has played together since 1990 with five studio releases. The latest, Build a Rocket Boys, is full of complex songwriting presented by the warm baritone of frontman Guy Garvey.

13. Do It Again/Holy Ghost!
This electropop duo grew up together in NYC and are also known for remix work of fellow playlisters Friendly Fires and Moby. "Do It Again" is the single off their first full-length, self-titled release, confidently presenting their musical perspective with catchy synth phrases.

14. Blue Cassette/Friendly Fires
UK dance punk band Friendly Fires is back with its second release, Pala, with more 80s inspired tunes like "Blue Cassette." The group also went to school together and first formed a post-hardcore group before focusing on more dance friendly tunes.

15. Truth/Alexander
Alexander Ebert is best known for his alter ego, fronting Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. He also serves as the voice for the band Ima Robot but his first solo release as a singer-songwriter, Alexander, allows his earthy all-knowing vibe to take over the proceedings.

16. The Day/Moby
This is the only track where Moby is singing on his latest release, Destroyed, a collection of songs written in the middle of the night while on tour in cities around the world. The soaring chorus is classic Moby, with heartstrings attached and a synth pulse driving the melody.

17. Sacre Cool/Young Montana?
Young Montana? (UK fiddler Jon Prichard) creates beat heavy compositions with interesting deviations into samples. "Sacre Cool" is off the debut release Limerance.

18. Our Hearts of Ruin/Blue Sky Black Death
With a band name lifted from a sky diving phrase (abbreviated as BSDD), this production duo based in Seattle churns out hip hop and instrumental music. There's an indulgent mix of live instrumentation and sampling in their songs as evidenced in this lead track from their latest release, Noir.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Matt and Kim @ Terminal 5 June 29th

The youth of summer were out in force for the beloved indie couple Matt and Kim at Terminal 5 on June 29, or at least those who planned ahead since the night sold out three months ahead of the date. The cheers began as the little platform with Kim’s drums and Matt’s keyboards was wheeled on to center stage. When the performers appeared, they promptly got up on their stools with arms raised and wide smiles as the place exploded in applause. Matt even shook his head in disbelief, before hopping down to start the intro of “Block After Block” from their latest release, Sidewalks. Kim then added her overly energetic drumbeat and the dance party began. Matt’s blue cardigan was off by the third song, saying how “Mr. Rogers has come out early.” Kim then joked with Matt to take it off slowly, “for the ladies!”
With buildings of their Brooklyn neighborhood sketched on the backdrop (the cover art of Sidewalks), Matt and Kim hits such as “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare,” “Grand,” “Yea Yeah,” and “Cameras” were spread out between other tunes from their three releases. The simplistic song structure left lots of room for busting out dance moves, while playing instruments and thrown confetti along with a multi-color balloon drop added to the festival atmosphere. Matt punctuated his speech with “Oh my gosh,” saying how this tour was the best of their lives so this night might be the best night of their lives. He took to holding his heart and bowing his head in deference to the love of the hometown fans. Kim took the mike for expletive-ridden anecdotes, offering up their phone number so everyone could to call them after the show and a cocktail recipe, which involved one part red wine and the other part Red Bull. There was some crowd surfing of course, but Kim took the prize with a record-breaking surf (see video below). The set ended with “Daylight,” providing one more enthusiastic sing along before the encore, which was a megamix of songs. Matt and Kim bounced around the stage, singing and dancing just like everyone else before waving goodbye.
My PopMatters interview with Matt here.

NMMatterscorp YouTube Videos: