Thursday, February 28, 2013

Youth Lagoon's New Album on NPR's "First Listen," NYC Tour Date March 6

Trevor Powers (Photo: Josh Darr)
One of the previews available on NPR Music this week is Youth Lagoon's sophomore album, Wondrous Bughouse, due March 5 worldwide via Fat Possum.  While it may be easy to dismiss Youth Lagoon as another guy in a studio full of tricks, especially with the flattened-by-fuzz compositions found in the 2010's The Year of Hibernation, this collection of songs transcends that notion by embracing sonic structures and soaring melodic builds.  

Trevor Powers is the wunderkind who uses Youth Lagoon as a stage name as well as an outlet for his wandering mind.  The first album was based around the idea of psychological dysphoria, documenting the trails of his mind with songs of minimalism and hypnotic ambience.  He described writing music as "my mind communicating with me, not the other way around... it can take me to scary places but I've realized those bizarre thoughts don't define me." 

Wondrous Bughouse focuses on the human psyche again, but this time it expands to include spiritual yearnings. Powers became intrigued with the metaphysical universe blending with pop music, and it shows.  "A lot of this record was influenced by a fear of mortality but embracing it at the same time," he says.  "Realizing that human life is only great because it is temporary... I'm not a gifted speaker, so explaining things is difficult for me.  But music always makes sense."

The first track, "Through Mind and Back" introduces Powers as the solo musician manipulating sounds for his own amusement.  But then he launches into tuneful layers of instrumentation for "Mute" and allows a simple melody with vocals (doubled and yes, blurred) in "Attic Doctor."  My favorite song is "Dropla," which is embedded at the bottom of this post and already picked for my next playlist.  Its repeating chorus of "You'll never die," is at once hopeless and optimistic. There's a grandeur in "Third Dystopia" and a majestic simplicity in "Raspberry Cane" before "Daisyphobia" brings on a next generation St. Pepper approach for the end, leaving the listener instantly ready for another visit.  

Link to listen here and check out the tour dates below.

YOUTH LAGOON
02/28 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
03/01 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
03/06 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
03/13 - 03/16 Austin, TX - SXSW
03/22 Boise, ID - Treefort Music Fest
04/12 Indio, CA - Coachella
04/19 Indio, CA - Coachella
04/21 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom
04/22 Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
04/24 Austin, TX - Mohawk
04/25 Dallas, TX - The Loft
04/26 Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's
04/27 New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks
04/28 Birmingham, AL - The Bottletree
04/30 Orlando, FL - The Social
05/01 Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
05/02 Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
05/03 Asheville, NC - The Grey Eagle
05/04 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
05/07 Northampton, MA - Pearl St.
05/10 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
05/11 Columbia, MD - Sweet Life Festival
05/13 Toronto, ON - Great Hall
05/14 Columbus, OH - A&R Bar
05/15 Chicago, IL - Metro
05/16 Madison, WI - Majestic Theater
05/17 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line
05/22 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom
05/23 Vancouver, BC - Venue  
05/24 Gorge, WA Sasquatch! Fest
06/05 Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center *   

* = w/ The National

Monday, February 25, 2013

Daytrotter's Bonnaroo 2013 Playlist

With the advent of the Bonnaroo lineup announcement last week, Daytrotter has curated a 2013 Playlist of their alums who are scheduled to perform this year (June 13 - 16, find info at Bonnaroo.com).  Even
if you're not one to head out into the middle of nowhere for these multi-stage weekends of music -- like me -- it's still interesting to check out the list of performers, with the simple intrigue of an old fashioned dance card.

Similar to their Coachella 2012 Playlist, this over two hour compilation is created by Mr. Daytrotter, from their vast archives of stripped-down live sessions collected for the website.  41 songs fill the listening session, including indie stalwarts The National and Grizzly Bear, dream pop duo Beach House, psych rockers Tame Impala, plus folksy types such as The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons.  Of course, there's plenty more where all this comes from, lurking in the full recordings with each band.

If you're not a subscriber of Daytrotter, the two dollars monthly fee will certainly cover access to this playlist and much, much more.  Link to listen here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reviewing 2012 Oscar Noms for Best Score & Downton Abbey Theme

There's a program on WQXR (online at WQXR.org) called "Movies on the Radio" that I happened upon over the holidays, when that station takes over in the house along with the good china, silver and family guests.  A recent episode featured the five Oscar nominated movie scores: Dario Marianelli for "Anna Karenina," Alexandre Desplat for "Argo," Mychael Danna for "Life of Pi," John Williams for "Lincoln" and Thomas Newman for "Skyfall."  Host David Garland was joined by Slate's film critic Dana Stevens, who spoke annoyingly fast and had to throw out how she's not a "prognosticator" twice.  Although it does seem like "Lincoln" will win many awards this Sunday, John Williams's score included. (A fun fact from the program is how Williams has been nominated for a mind-boggling 48 times but has won "only" five times!) To listen to the samples of each score without a visual proved to be a treat, allowing a focus on the music for the music's sake.  **UPDATE: CONGRATS TO OSCAR WINNER MYCHAEL DANNA FOR "LIFE OF PI" SCORE!

The program also highlights the score for the PBS sensation,"Downton Abbey," by John Lunn. After sticking with this show from the very beginning, the death of two main characters this season (just because the actors didn't want to renew their contracts) has fans like me hoping for the demise of their acting careers as well.  While the story crosses decades from the beginning of this century, the music on the show seems timeless.  Garland calls it "romantic post minimalism" with a nod towards Philip Glass. Lunn has said in an interview with London's Daily Record that his musical inspiration is really funk music from the late 60s, for example James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone, along with Bartok, Stravinsky and Bach.  Take a listen to "Movies on the Radio" on their webpage here or below.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Song Cycle "Planetarium" Arrives at BAM March 21 - 24

Photo courtesy the artists
Make your plans now for "Planetarium," the U.S. premiere by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and Sufjan Stevens, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) March 21 through 24.  Dessner is best known as the guitarist of The National, as well as the curator the new indiefest Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, which will return to BAM April 25 through 27.  Muhly is a prolific composer of operas, choral and orchestral pieces, as well as film scores (including 2008 Oscar Best Picture nominee The Reader). He recently created music for the new production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, garnering rave reviews up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Stevens has composed albums full of indie folk before recently embracing electronica for music on his label, Asthmatic Kitty Records.  Together the three friends found a project where they could contribute equally -- no phoning it in by emailing each other files.

I recently wrote an article about the piece for the BAMbill program, and I interviewed both Muhly and Dessner.  I didn't realize how much the composers had worked on each other's projects over the years, from Muhly's orchestrations to Stevens' stage appearances and Dessner's guitar in recordings.  They also all have strong ties to BAM and that was the first place they thought of for this U.S. premiere.  The first half of the performance features pieces by each contributor: Muhly's "Diacritical Marks 1 - 8," Stevens' "Enjoy Your Rabbit" arranged for strings, and a string quartet by Dessner.  "Planetarium" brings the collaborators on stage for the second half with the string quartet, a drummer and trombone section.  Stevens' fragile tenor hovers over the instruments, reflecting about the heavens as a 16-foot orb receives film projections by visual artist Deborah Johnson.  Check out the performance video below or on YouTube here, and for further information about tickets visit bam.org.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Romantic Songs Playlist for Valentine's Day 2013

OK, round two for a Romantic Tunes Playlist in honor of Valentine's Day 2013. (If so inclined, revisit the original list for Valentine's Day 2012 here.)  Going back into my iTunes collection it was easy to come up with another dedicated listening session to fill the day with romance -- plus I had added a few over the year (The Walkmen for example) to keep things current.  Again, this is a purely personal list from my own musical history.

Beginning with the adorable sentiment of Hot Chip's "One Life Stand" to the soaring melody of Elbow's "One Day Like This," I have ordered things carefully for smooth segues and left the ending mellowed out as always.  Certain songs take right me back to the time and place of the year they came out, others have stuck with me through the decades and still sound new with each visit.  Some even break my heart with the music, words or both.  But whether uplifting or sinking of sentiment, these songs just show how the heart is made to be used for more than pumping blood.  Use this link to listen, indulge and enjoy!

1. "One Life Stand" -- Hot Chip
2. "NYC" -- Interpol
3. "Swinging Party" -- The Replacements (live version 1991)
4. "Heaven" -- The Psychedelic Furs
5. "Wordless Chorus" -- My Morning Jacket
6. "Love Is Luck" -- The Walkmen
7. "Yet Again" -- Grizzly Bear
8. "Out Go the Lights" -- Spoon
9. "You're the Best Thing" -- The Style Council
10. "Heroes" -- David Bowie
11. "No Distance Left to Run" -- Blur
12. "Eyes Be Closed" -- Washed Out
13. "Live Alone" -- LCD Soundsystem (Franz Ferdinand cover)
14. "Lights Out, Words Gone" -- Bombay Bicycle Club
15. "Can You Tell" -- Ra Ra Riot
16. "Decide" -- Caveman
17. "Love You Madly" -- CAKE
18. "Nothing But Our Love" -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
19. "One Day Like This" -- Elbow
20. "Outro" -- M83

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Toro Y Moi Live Session on KCRW -- NYC tour dates Feb 13 & 14

Chazwick Budwick (photo via ForceField PR)
Chaz Budwick of Toro Y Moi (which roughly translates to "Bull and Me" using both Spanish and French) released his third studio album a few weeks ago, Anything In Return.  With a background playing punk and indie rock, Bundwick found his voice as a solo artist while studying graphic design at the University of South Carolina.  Taking far reaching influences from French house to Beach Boy Brian Wilson's pop to 80s R&B and hip hop, Bundwick started the chillwave genre with classmate Ernest Greene of Washed Out after graduation in 2009.  Along with two studio albums, 2010's Causers of This and 2011's Underneath the Pine, Bundwick has created many singles, remixes and a dance music side project called Les Sins with Dan Snaith of Caribou.

He appeared yesterday on KCRW as part of their new "In Studio HD" sessions on "Morning Becomes Eclectic,"  with his touring band. (Toro Y Moi has two tour dates in NYC this week, check list at the end of the post.)  Listen at this link here or watch below, which is especially enlightening with a band like Toro Y Moi to see who's doing what, with their layered mix of tripping sounds and playing instruments.  There is no studio audience, and of course this being radio they just have themselves to play for, but really interactions between band members are always interesting to watch, no matter what the setting.

They begin with "Rose Quartz," a song I've already picked for my next new music playlist, which juxtaposes quirky synth samples over a thumping drum beat (and that's just the introduction!)  With the new HD video, things get a bit too up close and personal with KCRW's Musical Director Jason Bentley, but the info from the chat from these two sitting feet apart is telling.  Budwick explains how most his songwriting is done wherever he happens to be on his laptop -- from a recent move to California, to stops on a world tour which included New Zealand. "To be able to work as much as possible is fun for me," Budwick says in his laid back style.  He even finds time to indulge in his artistic side by drawing doodles,  go figure.

TORO Y MOI

02/13 New York, NY - Webster Hall *+
02/14 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg *+
02/15 Boston, MA - Paradise *+
02/16 Montreal, QC - Club Soda *+
02/17 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace *+
02/19 Chicago, IL - Metro ^+
02/20 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe ^+
02/21 Lawrence, KS - The Granada Theatre ^+
02/23 Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater ^+
02/24 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge ^+
02/26 Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret ^+
02/27 Seattle, WA - The Crocodile ^+
02/28 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom ^+
03/01 San Francisco, CA - The Independent ^+
03/02 San Francisco, CA - The Independent ^+
03/03 Los Angeles, CA - The Fonda Theatre ^+

* w/ Wild Belle
^ w/ Sinkane
+ w/ Dog Bite

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Beck Reimagines Bowie's "Sound and Vision"

As promised, Beck has released a "reimagining" of David Bowie's epic song, "Sound and Vision" as part of the Lincoln car company's "Hello, Again" campaign.   Pitchfork reported today how he worked with director Chris Milk to create a live video of a performance at Fox Studios, which included over 160 musicians and dad David Campbell conducting.  The impish musician strolls out in a glittery jacket, fedora and acoustic guitar in his hand, to a small stage in the middle of this theater in the round set up.  The musicians warm up becomes part of the weirdly percussive introduction, before the famous tune takes over and we're all along with the ride -- Beck included.

Watch on YouTube here or below, just get ready to clap along...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Matt and Kim "Lightning Tour" Short Documentary

Photo by Jonathan Mannion 

Here's another short film by another fave band, Matt and Kim.  Cameras captured the indie pop couple during the final days of this fall's Lighting Tour, headlining sold-out venues in support of their fourth album of the same name.  The film splices footage from the tour bus, showcasing Matt's Tofurky supply, as well as a jaunt where Kim searches for the essential NYC Bacon, Egg and Cheese.  Fans will recognize plenty of concert antics, including Matt counting off his signature, "One, Two, Three, Four!" Plus there's an instant gem of a tagline from Kim, "This ain't no Disney." 

The final shots show them backstage at Terminal 5, where I was lucky to see them play a show for the first time back in June 2011, just a few weeks after doing a fun phone interview with Matt.  It's great to see them return with confidence!

Below the doc are tour dates for the spring, including tonight's date at Madison Square Garden with Passion Pit.  (The night is slated to go on as scheduled, despite a blizzard in the forecast.)


2013 US DATES
2/8 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden 
2/9 – Boston, MA @ Agganis Arena
2/11 – Troy, NY @ RPI Fieldhouse
2/12 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
2/13 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
2/15 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
2/16 – Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
2/18 – Rochester, NY @ Main Street Armory
2/19 – Cleveland, OH @ Masonic Auditorium
2/21 – Plymouth, MI @ Compuware Sports Arena
2/22 – Chicago, IL @ UIC Pavilion
2/23 – Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theatre
2/25 – Columbia, MO @ Jesse Auditorium
2/26 – St. Louis, MO @ Peabody Opera House
2/28 – Ames, IA @ Hilton Coliseum
3/1 – Broomfield, CO @ 1st Bank Center
3/2 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
3/4 – Eugene, OR @ Knight Arena
3/5 – Seattle, WA @ The Paramount Theatre
3/7 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
3/8 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory*
3/9 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre*
3/16 – Miami, FL @ Ultra Music Festival*
3/22 – Miami, FL @ Ultra Music Festival*
*w/o Passion Pit

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Beach House Post Short Film, "Forever Still"

Beach House Photo via Sub Pop Records
Dream pop duo Beach House released a short film on their website Monday, Forever Still, which to date has over 75,000 views.  Produced with PitchforkTV and help from director Max Goldman, the film captures the band playing four selections from last year's album, Bloom.  Directly inspired by Pink Floyd's Life at Pompeii, the footage was pieced together from four nights in and around Tornillo, Texas (where Bloom was recorded).  The group adopted a conscious effort to retain creative control and "a need to distance [themselves] from the 'content' culture" (guilty as charged!)  Beach House hopes that fans will carve out the 26 minutes necessary to experience their set as a whole.  French-born songstress Victoria Legrand stands at attention playing a Yamaha keyboard, casting a spell from under her bangs as bandmate Alex Scally delivers echoing guitar lines and touring musician Daniel Franz takes care of percussion.

I caught Beach House opening up for Vampire Weekend in the fall of 2010, after their third album Teen Dream, had boosted their upward trajectory in the music scene.  It was at Radio City Music Hall, so the sound couldn't have been better and their stage show was simply as mesmerizing as their music.  Here's another opportunity to indulge in their m.o. with another collection of songs.


Forever Still track listing:
1. Wild
2. The Hours
3. Wishes
4. Irene

Monday, February 4, 2013

Caveman Releases Single "In the City" from Upcoming Album

Caveman Photo via Fat Possum Records
Last week fave band Caveman revealed the single, "In the City" on NPR's "All Songs Considered" program. It's from their upcoming self-titled sophomore album due April 2 via Fat Possum Records.  With a blast of dense instrumentation, the song begins with a strong percussive vibe over synths and guitar.  As singer Matthew Iwanusa confidently introduces the urban theme, wandering guitar lines begin blurring lines with backup vocals.

I caught Caveman live during a strong but short set at last year's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and then also a few weeks later playing an arty gig at the Brooklyn Museum.  If anyone has not checked out their debut album, 2011's CoCo Beware, I highly recommend it.  Take a listen to the new song on their Soundcloud page here or below, along with listing of tour dates.  Looking forward to seeing them again April 10 at Webster Hall and can't wait to have even more new tunes from the band!

Caveman track listing:
1. Strange to Suffer
2. In the City
3. Shut You Do
4. Where's the Time
5. Chances
6. Over My Head
7. Ankles
8. Pricey
9. I See You
10. I Never Want to Know
11. The Big Push



Caveman tour dates (more to follow):
Tue, Feb 26 – New Haven, CT @ CafĂ© Nine
Wed, Feb 27 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair

Thu, Feb 28 – Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo
Fri, Mar 01 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace

Sat, Mar 02 – Detroit, MI @ Garden Bowl

Mon, Mar 04 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
Tue, Mar 05 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
Wed, Mar 06 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry

Thu, Mar 07 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar
Fri, Mar 08 – St. Louis, MO @ Old Rock House

Sat, Mar 09 – Oxford, MS @ Lamar Lounge

Mon, Mar 11 – New Orleans, LA @ Hi Ho Lounge
Tue, Mar 12-17 – Austin, TX @ SXSW (details TBD)

Mon, Mar 18 – Albuquerque, NM @ Low Spirits

Tue, Mar 19 – Denver, Co @ Larimer Lounge

Wed, Mar 20 – Salt Lake City, UK @ Urban Lounge

Fri, Mar 22 – Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar

Sat, Mar 23 – Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door

Sun, Mar 24 – Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
Tue, Mar 26 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent

Thu, Mar 28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour

Fri, Mar 29 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah

Sat, Mar 30 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress

Mon, Apr 01 – Austin, TX @ The Parish

Tue, Apr 02 – Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silverleaf
Thu, Apr 04 – Birmingham, AL @ The Bottletree

Fri, Apr 05 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt

Sat, Apr 06 – Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn

Sun, Apr 07 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
Tue, Apr 09 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat Backstage
Wed, Apr 10 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall

Thu, Apr 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s

Friday, February 1, 2013

Washed Out's New Song via Philips Sound of Creation Campaign

Ernest Greene

Yesterday I started my second annual Valentine's Day playlist and the thought of including a Washed Out song occurred if only for the sexy cover on the last album, 2011's Within and Without. (Not surprisingly, the photo seen below has also appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine.) Also, n.b. my concert review of their July 2011 show at Bowery Ballroom in NYC remains one of the most popular posts on this blog.

Earlier this week, the first new song since then was released as part of the Philips Sound of Creation project.  This corporate video uses this soundtrack for "an interactive musical story," where a split screen becomes a three-way and more.  A husky voiceover reminds visitors that "inspiration is inside you, and outside you, so let it in," inviting clicks to preview products. Hey we can all use a reason to heat things up in February, besides being happy about having something new from chillwave master Ernest Greene.

Consequence of Sound recently interviewed the frontman about this "autobiographical exploration of musical influences." It turns out that Greene incorporates natural sounds using field recordings in his songs since they are about "memories and nostalgia," while combining "both experimental and pop music."  A top ten listing of tracks that have inspired his musical journey so far include both Abba and Eno, along with The Beatles and The Beach Boys.  In fact, Greene considers The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" to be the most creative track of all time. (And I would add that David Bowie's cover ranks extremely high in my list of most romantic songs of all time.)

Take a listen to "The Sound of Creation."