Monday, April 30, 2012

BAM's Music Fest Crossing Brooklyn Ferry This Weekend

In anticipation of this weekend's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry new music festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) compiled a video playlist highlighting some of the 30+ artists in the line up. Curated by The National's Bryce and Aaron Dessner, the three-day event will take over BAM's main building at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  While bands are playing on the Opera House stage and in the BAMcafe, there will also be films with original scores in the cinemas. Featured acts include The Walkmen/Sharon Van Etten (May 3), St Vincent/The Antlers (May 4) and Beirut/Atlas Sound (May 5, which is sold out). Tickets are available for the first two nights at $45 each along with the full schedule at

Photo @ouraugust

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spring 2012 New Music Playlist

The spring blooms have been showing their stuff for weeks now, while new releases have hit the airwaves to please many a music fan.  Plus with SXSW and Coachella’s two weekends come and gone, there are plenty of buzz worthy bands to choose from for the next new music playlist. Link to listen here, enjoy!

1. “Go Right Ahead”  – The Hives
Swedish party band The Hives are back after five long years with their fifth release, Lex Hives.  The band is led by brothers Per (a.k.a. Howlin Pelle, frontman and vocals) and Nicklas (a.k.a. Nicholaus Arson, guitar and keyboard) Almqvist, returning to their high-energy approach for this catchy single.

2. “Sad Vacation” – The Dandy Warhols
Portland’s own alternative rock icons, The Dandy Warhols, return to the scene with their ninth album, This Machine.  Their gravelly, no excuses vibe chugs along in this opening track for the collection.

3. “Ho Hey” – The Lumineers
The Lumineers are a folk rock trio from Denver, specializing in an acoustic-based Americana sound.  This infectious single is off their self-titled full length debut, complete with callbacks and an invitation to join their jam.

4. “Heavy Metal” – White Rabbits
White Rabbits are a sextet based in Brooklyn with an unusual rock band set up (two drummers and a piano player) to expand their sound.  The band’s two frontmen, Greg Roberts and Stephen Patterson, met in college in Columbia, Missouri, while working at the local record store together.  This song is off their third release, Milk Famous.

5. “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” – Father John Misty
This song was recently offered as KEXP’s “Song of the Day” by Josh Tillman, the former drummer of Seattle band Fleet Foxes.  The majestic tune is off the debut release for his solo project, Fear Fun.

6. “The Wave” – Miike Snow
7. “Devil’s Work” – Miike Snow
Miike Snow is an indie pop trio formed in Stockholm in 2007, incorporating the talents of Andrew Wyatt with producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winneberg (known as Bloodshy & Avant).  These two shining examples of their work are off the band’s second album, Happy to You.

8.  “Finding Reasons” – New Build
Al Doyle (of Hot Chip and formerly LCD Soundsystem) and Felix Martin (Hot Chip) joined forces with studio producer Tom Hopkins to create this British electronic collaboration, New Build.  As expected, the tracks are filled with solid dance grooves such as in this single off the debut release, Yesterday Was Lived and Lost.

9. “The Reflection of You” – Bear In Heaven
10. “Sinful Nature” – Bear In Heaven
Brooklyn band Bear In Heaven embraces 80s synth pop song structures as formulated early on by Jon Philpot, during his off hours from working at a recording studio in Atlanta.  These two swirling tunes are from their fourth full length release, I Love You, It’s Cool.

11. “Tourists” – Bright Moments
Bright Moments is the indie pop music project of Kelly Pratt, known for his horn and vocals in Arcade Fire, Beirut and LCD Soundsystem.  He lets the brass section take center stage along with his new frontman position, as evidenced in this lead track off the band’s debut release, Natives.

12. “California” – Delta Spirit
Delta Spirit is an indie rock quintet from San Diego, now living in Long Beach.  This song is from the band’s self-titled third album, with their folksy rock vocals and approach to instrumentation.

13. “Serpents” – Sharon Van Etten
Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten embraces the indie folk rock genre with her heartfelt compositions.  This song is off her third release, Tramp, which was produced by The National’s Aaron Dressner (who also makes an appearance as a performer as well).

14. “Shiny Things” – Fanfarlo
Fanfarlo is a London based indie pop quintet, fronted by Swedish musician Simon Balthazar. The band’s eclectic instrumentation includes trumpet, mandolin, violin, musical saw and clarinet along with the standard rock band set up.  This song is the single off their second release, Rooms Filled with Light.

15. “Myth” – Beach House
Dream pop trailblazers Beach House are back with this single off their fourth album, Bloom.  Featuring French-born Victoria Legrand’s soaring vocals and Baltimore’s Alex Scally, the duo continues to offer larger-than-life musical landscapes. 

16. “Eyeoneye” – Andrew Bird
17. “Belles” – Andrew Bird
Chicago area native Andrew Bird lists voice, violin, guitar and glockenspiel as his instruments for creating indie folk rock that has resulted in nine albums and more.  These two songs are from the latest release Break It Yourself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gotye vs. GLEE -- Is it still good pr if you're whining about it?

Photo: Simon Schluter
With Gotye's hit "Somebody That I Used to Know" still all over the airwaves and in the top ten of VH-1's "Top 20 Music Video Countdown," the artist is riding the wave of being a music sensation.  The song caught my ear on KCRW last summer and is worthy of the cross over attention, with its eclectic instrumentation and soaring male/female vocals. Gotye's release Making Mirrors (which I reviewed for BUST Magazine when it came out last January, finding it uneven and a bit all over the place) is now #7 on the Billboard 200.  To complete the ascension, Gotye performed on Saturday Night Live April 14th, complete with a spoof of the artistic video.

But after selling the song to GLEE, Gotye commented in how he was not happy with the production as reported by SPIN, liking it to "hearing it from a cardboard box."  How could he not be surprised that the vocals were given the pop vibe as standard for the show about high school drama nerds?  I'm sure he was paid handsomely for the handover too. Even though I watch the program to revisit my own high school musical days, it was a bit cringeworthy with the duo changed from a heated exchange between ex-lovers to emotionally challenged brothers (Darren Criss and guest star Matt Bomer of White Collar).  Later in the episode, there was a similar feeling with the Givers' buoyant song "Up Up Up" flattened out almost beyond recognition.  Yet when the show returned to decades old music in the recent Saturday Night Fever based episode, its audience wasn't as enthusiastic  -- there was a vote of no confidence with a drop in sheer numbers.  As for Gotye, he backed off his remarks in a recent performance as covered in The Hollywood Reporter, calling the whole thing "clever."  Clever move indeed, but is it too late to quell the media backlash?

Friday, April 20, 2012

This Year's Record Store Day -- April 21, 2012

TOMORROW is Record Store Day, so get ready to go visit at your favorite shop (if you're lucky enough to still have one in your area that is, providing behind the annual event).  In honor of the day, PopMatters has enlisted the help of artists and staff to celebrate favorite stores and hangouts.  The lengthy pool of artists was split in half this week, with Part 1 and Part 2 full of memories plus current music. (Be sure to check out The Darcys in Part 1, who I saw recently in a solid supporting slot for the Bombay Bicycle Club at Bowery Ballroom).  

The PopMatters staff picks include my own personal top three: Amoeba Music in L.A., Sound Garden in the historic neighborhood Fell's Point, Baltimore, and of course my town's beloved Johnny's in Darien (recent blog post here).  I have such fond memories of all three, treasures in their own right from the tiny but chock full of memorabilia and memories at Johnny's to Sound Garden's open square footprint of both new and used items, with the best sticker selection I've ever seen anywhere.  Amoeba's in L.A. looks like a big supermarket from the outside, but inside is a vast warehouse of musical finds.  The store hosts many live performances and some day I'd love to be there for one... posted a full list of events and special releases or NPR has a list of "A Dozen Reasons to Visit Your Local Record Store Day on Saturday," for those who still need more convincing.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

R.I.P. Dick Clark -- The Man Who Kept the Party Going

Dick Clark was a part of pop culture for as long as I can remember, hosting American Bandstand and every New Year's Rockin' Eve since I was old enough to stay up to watch to ball drop in Times Square.  My Dick Clark moment came in 2001, as I gathered with friends around some TV per usual (not even sure was exactly I was but it was back in the Connecticut suburbs after living in the city -- our little town had lost nine people who were killed for the simple act of going to work that day). What a comfort it was to hear his iconic baritone, announcing how he had no doubt that people would show up in the crowd to celebrate. "New Yorkers are a resilient people" Clark declared, imploring us all to be the same.  We were all grief stricken and the tears flowed yet again that night. Clark continued to show up for this annual gig on ABC, even after a stroke had slurred his speech.  Welcoming another year with a clean slate continues to be our tradition to gather with friends around the television and party.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dan Wilson Interview: Co-writer of Adele Songs and Semisonic Frontman

Photo by Melanie Nisson
When an opportunity came along to interview Dan Wilson for PopMatters recently, I jumped at the chance to discuss his newly Grammy-fied work with Adele as well as have a chat just being a fan of his 90s band, Semisonic.  It was a good ice breaker to be able to say pointedly how I was a proud owner of a Semisonic cassette back in the day, so with a chuckle of generational recognition we began the game of question and answer.  After the last prepared subject of his own work, I asked Wilson how he was going to find the time to finish his next album.  He told a story of a friend who ran into Bob Dylan at some nondescript grocery store, telling the icon how much he admired the music, etc.  Dylan reportedly turned to the guy and said, "No time for nobody."  Wilson laughed as he obviously related to the simple feeling of being way too busy, which in the world of music is a very good thing indeed.  

While doing my research, I came across a commencement address Wilson gave in 2009 at the MacNally Smith College of Music in his hometown state of Minnesota.  I just love his idea of jumping in the pool, whatever your pool may be... the world is constantly changing but there are still those who are going for it and those who stand around looking in, it's a choice to be made on a daily basis.

Link to interview on PopMatters here

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hopping Aboard the April is Public Radio Music Month Bandwagon

I had no idea... The month is almost half over and I just found out that April is "Public Radio Month."  Appropriately enough, I learned about it through an email from one of my favorite public radio stations: The Alternate Side, which is part of  It referenced a letter of thanks signed by artists, bands and even record companies, with appreciation for these stations that "take chances" to play music even when "it doesn't sound like everything else on the radio dial."  This was signed on April 9th by some of my treasured music makers from MGMT, Passion Pit, and My Morning Jacket, to Ozomatli and Chairlift.  Additional names have since been added with Rolling Stone sharing the story, such as The Decemberists and Andrew Bird.  

As listed on the right sidebar of this blog, my best sources for new music are public radio stations.  Two years ago, the very first article I wrote for PopMatters was "Radio is Doing Just Fine... Online," where I extolled the virtues of my coveted time listening to (mainly public) radio over the internet.  My daily routine revolves around KEXP's "John in the Morning" show from 9:00 am to noon EST and KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" from noon to 3 pm EST, with gaps filled by The Alternate Side online or in the car weekday mornings on WNYE 91.5 in the New York City area.  These three outlets feed my soul with new music, news and live sessions.  Their blogs detail upcoming concerts, more news and vast archives are available anytime I care to access something new or revisit a session truncated when life intervenes.  My membership in these stations has also outfitted my wardrobe with various T-shirts, tote bags and baseball caps, worn proudly everywhere I go.  It's music and more... community plus a sense of involvement in the music scene by simply tuning in, wherever I am.

Listening to my iTunes or even Pandora plays music I already know, it's as basic as that. These stations provide new discoveries to add to my playlists and djs who speak from the heart about music they love.  As a lone writer at a desk in a home office, I'm connected to others with a shared commitment to new music day in and day out.  Let me add my thanks to public radio music, with gratitude from a very dedicated listener.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Daytrotter's Coachella Playlist 2012

Daytrotter is providing its own Coachella buzz with a playlist of performers in the lineup for both weekends: April 13 – 15 as well as April 20 -22, in a new double dose experiment for the annual California desert festival.  (I'm looking forward to catching as much of the webcast as I can on the Coachella Youtube channel here, why not go ahead and subscribe now?) This feature by “Mr. Daytrotter” introduces everyone on the bill, a true testament to the Daytrotter mission which captures worthy bands in stripped down, live sessions.  This listening opportunity of 34 songs lasts over two hours and of course hearing just one song invites further exploration Daytrotter style, with full set offerings lurking right on the website. 

Listen to the Coachella Daytrotter Playlist: 2012 here.  

And FYI a monthly subscription to all things Daytrotter is a measly $2... such a bargain!

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Song from The Dandy Warhols "Sad Vacation"

As one of my very fave bands, I was thrilled to learn recently that The Dandy Warhols are getting ready to release another album (their eighth since 1995) on April 24th called This Machine.  Stereogum provides a sneak peak of the track "Sad Vacation" as a free download at the link below -- instantly recognizable with the band's bottom heavy approach, adding in doubled vocals across an octave and wailing guitars that disintegrate into a very unpolished finish.  Their signature in-your-face, inexcusable vibe makes me love this group since I discovered them for my own personal playlists so long ago.  I'll definitely be counting the days until I can hear more.

Listen to "Sad Vacation" via Sterogum here.

Revisit my review of their show in Fall of 2010 here.

The Dandy Warhols @ Webster Hall, 11/6/12 "This Will Be the Last Time" Cover of Rolling Stones (Awesome encore!)