Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer 2013 New Music Playlist

Let the summer anthems rule – new tunes by Holy Ghost! and Empire of the Sun pave the way for this latest playlist.  Debut albums from The Olms, Palma Violets and Secret Colors are juxtaposed next to   During the next heat wave, why not cool down by listening to the breezy acoustic strumming of The Olms, ambient music from Eluvium, Bibio’s electronica and more. Link to listen here, enjoy!

1. "Dumb Disco Ideas" -- Holy Ghost!
This single off the upcoming second album, Dynamics, by Holy Ghost! could not have arrived at a better time.  Brooklyn-based synth pop duo Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel capture the seasonal mood to dance, without losing the irony of its history.

2. "Alive" -- Empire of the Sun
The Australian electronic music team of Nick Littlemore and Luke Steele has released their sophomore album, Ice on the Dune.  “Alive” exploits a soaring synth melody over a pulsing dance beat.

3. "Wanna Feel It" -- The Olms
Singer/songwriter Pete Yorn joined together with musician, artist and photographer J.D. King for a new band called The Olms. A warm acoustic vibe masks the discontentment in the lyrics embedded in this song off their self-titled debut album.

4. "Your Life Your Call" – Junip
Swedish folk and psych rock trio Junip are back with their second self-titled album.  “Your Life Your Call” is the single for the collection, featuring the unique vocals of José González.

5. "À Tout à L'heure" – Bibio
English electronic music producer Stephen Wilkinson has released his seventh full-length album, Silver Wilkinson.  This whimsical tune, “À Tout à L'heure,translates from French to “in a little while.”

6. "Oh Sailor" -- Mr. Little Jeans (featuring The Silverlake Conservatory Music
Youth Chorale)
This single from Norwegian (now based in LA) singer/songwriter Monica Birkeness enlists a children’s choir for endearing background vocals.  The soaring, melodic song will appear on the forthcoming debut album.

7. "In The City" – Caveman
Caveman has released a self-titled sophomore album, which embraces the strength of their guitars and a confident singing by Matt Iwanusa.  The dense instrumentation mirrors this single’s theme of the quintet’s life in New York City.

8. "Miracle Mile" -- Cold War Kids
This indie rock band returns with “Miracle Mile,” the single for a fourth album Dear Miss Lonely Hearts.  Nathan Willet’s raw, heart-on-your-sleeve vocals lead the charge for the quintet from Long Beach, CA.

9. "Ain't That the Way" -- Divine Fits
This North American indie rock quartet formed by Texan Britt Daniel (Spoon) and Canadian Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) recently released a double-sided single. The band exploys the crunch of a Spoon song with “Ain’t That the Way.”

10. "Modern Jesus" -- Portugal. The Man.
Portland’s quintet Portugal. The Man. returns with a sixth studio album, Evil Friends.  Vocalist John Gourley finds a soulful point of reference for the musical montage of “Modern Jesus.”   

11. "Hurricane" -- MS MR
This NYC duo (pronounced “Miss Mister”), vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow, met as students at Vassar College.  This alt-art rock meets dream pop single is off their EP, Candy Bar Creep Show. 

12. "Sure Stuck" – Honeymoon
Australian LA-based music producers Aaron Shanahan and Benjamin Plant embrace their love of 60s and 70s psych pop with this new musical project.  This brightly bouncing tune is off a forthcoming debut album, scheduled to drop later this year.

13. "College" -- Rogue Wave
This indie rock quintet from Oakland, California, is back with its fifth album, Nightingale Floors.  Frontman Zach Schwartz (a.k.a. Zach Rogue) overlays his distinctive, laid back vocals for a catchy single about higher education.

14.  "Best of Friends" -- Palma Violets
U.K. indie rock band Palma Violets was recently formed by frontmen Samuel Fryer and Chilli Jesson.  A distinct, fuzzy swagger permeates this lead track off their debut album, ISO.

15. "King" -- Secret Colors
Seattle’s Matt Lawson abandoned his previous guitar-based improvisational methods for writing music with a cheap Yamaha keyboard and pared down composition.  This electronic puzzle of a song is from the new album, Days Off.

16. "Envenom Mettle" – Eluvium
Ambient recording artist Matthew Cooper blends various genres with a steady craftsmanship over seven albums.  This hazy tune is off the latest double album, Nightmare Ending.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Song By Porcelain Raft "Think of the Ocean" (Album due August 20)

Mauro Remiddi (Photo by Shawn Brackbill)
Mauro Remiddi of Porcelain Raft has released a new song, "Think of the Ocean," ahead of his next album called Permanent Signal (out August 20 via Secretly Canadian).  The title refers to a phone line that loses its connection for a long time -- the feeling Remiddi while on tour away from family and friends.  I caught him doing a solo set at this year's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, where he did seem pleased to be stopped in the lobby to order to have a friendly chat with someone about his music.

"Think of the Ocean" is the opening track for the album, a spare song of pulsating beats and Remiddi's own intertwining vocals.  The video shows a wavering shot looking over a woman's shoulder as she looks at a black slate, simple yet striking visuals that allows the focus to be on the music.  After 2012's Strange Weekend (which caught my ear instantly with "Unless You Speak From Your Heart," a New Music Matters Top 20 Songs of the year), Remiddi sold off all his instruments in order to create, in his words, "a new color palette."  He also enlisted Jonny Rogoff (of Yuck) on drums, Darcy Cicci (of The Antlers) on bass and Gaspar Claus on cello (a collaborator with Sufjan Stevens and The National).  Check out the video and the track list for Permanent Signal below. 

Track list:
1. Think Of The Ocean
2. Cluster
3. Minor Pleasure4. Open Letter
5. Night Birds
6. It Ain’t Over
7. I Lost Connection
8. Warehouse
9.The Way Out
10. Five Minutes From Now
11. Echo

Friday, June 21, 2013

NMMatterscorp YouTube Channel Reaches Over 50,000 Views

For months I've been saying to my video guy and spouse Paul how our NMMatterscorp YouTube channel was about to hit 50,000 views, so we should do something to celebrate when it happens (no one who knows me will be surprised to hear my first thought was a party!)  And low, the moment has come about without notice... with 141 live music videos posted over two and a half years, we have passed the mark.

Three out of the top four are from one epic night at Terminal 5 -- the first  LCD Soundsystem concert of their last week of shows ever.  These videos are definitely our personal faves of the entire collection. At the time, Paul hadn't heard the latest album much even though I had This is Happening in heavy rotation, so he didn't even know how the place would explode after the three minute intro of "Dance Yrself Clean" as the band took the stage.  (He says it was simply hard to hold on to the flip camera!)  Since it appeared two years ago, it has remained our top video in views.  Other LCD songs in the top five are "Time To Get Away" (#2) and the definitive "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" (#3) with the requisite crowd surfer.

Ready To Go @ Terminal 5
Coming in at number four is "Dream of the 90s," a hilarious yet sardonic song from the IFC series Portlandia.  Paul and I became fans of the show towards the end of season one, so when a live concert version came to town we hopped on getting tickets at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.  It was a treat to see Fred Armison and Carrie Brownstein actually playing on stage, with a few costume changes to portray characters from the show plus special appearances by Beastie Boys' Adam Horowitz and Hugh Cornwall of The Stranglers .  And our hometown own's Moby rounds out the top five with an acoustic set at The Brooklyn Museum after a talk with John Schaefer of WNYC's "Soundcheck." 

Sometimes I'll elbow or give a thumbs up to Paul across the venue to make sure he gets the hits, but there's two gems in the top ten that are actually covers -- songs that just happened to appear on the night's set list.  Flaming Lips chose Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Lucky Man" at Moogfest 2011, honoring Keith Emerson's iconic synthesizer solo, which this time was served up on iPad's Animoog app.  (Just one of my teary moments during the show and our cover photo on the YouTube site is from that night too.)  Another happy surprise came during the encore of The Dandy Warhols show at Webster Hall, when they busted out "This Will Be The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones. 

Other videos captured those crazy times when members of the band ventured into the crowd.  There's one with Kim of Matt and Kim crowd surfing during their first headlining show at Terminal 5, another with Peter of Peter, Bjorn and John taking the "Young Folks" whistling into the fans at The Bowery Ballroom, and our personal fave with Eddie Argus of Art Brut continuing his rant about "Modern Art" across the floor at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Such memories!  We enjoyed it all and the act of sharing keeps things fresh in our minds too.  Special thanks to Paul for recording these opportune moments -- it's quite a collection.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Franz Ferdinand Post Behind-the-Scenes Video (New Album August 27 & NYC Tour Date Oct 22)

Franz Ferdinand (Photo via Domino Records)
Franz Ferdinand is releasing its fourth studio album August 27, titled Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. From the soundtrack in the recently posted video, it's a return to the cheeky fun that made the self-titled debut such a success back in 2004.  Theirs is a tightly wound indie rock that burst from the Glasgow Art School scene with the infectious international hit, "Take Me Out." The band remains the original quartet, with  Alex Kapranos (lead vocals and guitar) backed by Nick McCarthy (keyboards, rhythm guitar and vocals), Paul Thomson (percussion and vocals) and Bob Hardy (bass).  Check out the video along with the track list and some tour dates info.

Track List:
1. Right Action
2. Evil Eye
3. Love Illumination
4. Stand On The Horizon
5. Fresh Strawberries
6. Bullet
7. Treason! Animals.
8. The Universe Expanded
9. Brief Encounters
10. Goodbye Lovers & Friends

North American Tour Dates: 
OCT 4 - Houston, TX - House of Blues
OCT 5 - Dallas, TX - House of Blues
OCT 4-6 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
OCT 8 - Lawrence, KS - The Granada
OCT 9 - Minneapolis, MN - Skyway Theater
OCT 10 - Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
OCT 11-13 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
OCT 15 - Nashville, TN - Cannery Ballroom
OCT 16 - Columbus, OH - The LC Pavilion
OCT 17 - North Bethesda, MD - Music Center at Strathmore
OCT 19 - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theatre 
OCT 20 - Boston, MA - Orpheum Theatre
OCT 22 - New York, NY - Hammerstein Ballroom
OCT 23 - Montreal, QC - Metropolis
OCT 24 - Toronto, ON - Kool Haus

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Open Eye Signal" Video -- New Song From Jon Hopkins' Latest Album

Jon Hopkins (Photo via Domino Records)
Jon Hopkins is a classically trained musician who creates electronic music that expands the genre off the dance floor into the environment of real experiences and memories. He is not above using the piano he's played since eight or sounds such as fingers tapping on a desk, salt and pepper shakers or a cheap tambourine. When I interviewed him during Moogfest 2010, he couldn't help remarking about the Muzak piped into the hotel lobby.  Hopkins has worked on film scores (The Lovely Bones, Monsters) and collaborated with Brian Eno, King Creosote and Coldplay, but he is not above lying on his studio floor in order to truly experience his creations before putting them into final production.

"Open Eye Signal" is the single off of Hopkins' latest album, Immunity (out June 4 through Domino Records).  It paves the way with patience,  allowing the track to build without resistance.  The video is filmed by Aolfe McArdle of Colonel Blimp productions, who saw the song as "a singular journey" enlisted skateboarder Chris Chann in California.  McArdle explains, "I liked the idea of a city kid taking us on that journey... just one day suddenly deciding to escape his life and see more of the world in the only way he understands."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Song by Washed Out "It All Feels Right" (Album due August 13)

Ernest Greene (Photo via iTunes)
Washed Out's Ernest Greene is ready to release his second full-length album next month, letting loose a single "It All Feels Right" that I already have on heavy rotation.  His critically acclaimed debut EP, Life of Leisure (2010), practically coined the term chillwave and the song "Feel It All Around" can still be heard during the opening credits of Portlandia.  I caught the band during the tour supporting 2011's Within and Without, a fave album that was a top ten pick for the year and the write up for this concert is one of my most read posts ever.

The new album, Paracosm (due out August 13 via Sub Pop Records), is filled with the synth magic expected of Washed Out and more.  According to Sub Pop, Greene employed over fifty different instruments for the new songs, including a collection of old keyboards (Mellotron, Chamberlin, Novatron and Optigan).  "I've grown as a songwriter to the point where I want to have more involved arrangements, and that's really hard to do with sampling," says Greene. "These machines were kind of a happy medium: the sounds have a very worn, distressed quality about them, much like an old sample.  But they also offer much more flexibility because they're playable." Greene has relocated from the city life of Atlanta to Athens, but returned there to record again with producer Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter and Gnarls Barkley) at Maze Studios.

Available now is the single, "It All Feels Right," which opens with a shiny bling of sound until moving percussively into a sunny groove. In the lyric video, blissful thoughts are conveyed beyond the buried vocals, from "the sun comes out" to "music's playing loud," while deeply colored flora spin and turn. The cheery crowd noises brings in a human element as the song comes to a close. Greene says: "I knew from the beginning I wanted this record to be optimistic, very much a daytime-sounding album.  I think the last record felt more nocturnal in some ways.  This one I just imagined being outside, surrounded by a beautiful, natural environment."

Track List:
1.  Entrance
2.  It All Feels Right

3.  Don’t Give Up
4.  Weightless
5.  All I Know
6.  Great Escape
7.  Paracosm
8.  Falling Back
9.  All Over Now

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Judging a Local Battle of the Bands (Fundraiser for Mangold Music Foundation)

Collecting donations at the event
I was asked to serve as a judge for a "Battle of the Bands" on June 9 at the Arch Street Teen Center in Greenwich, CT.  The event raised money for the Mangold Music Foundation, which provides instruments and lessons to sick and underprivileged children.  Charlie Mangold, a friend from growing up in Old Greenwich, recently established the non-profit to reach out to young musicians that have the drive but not the access in order to learn how to play music. He recently delivered guitars and ukuleles to the Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Ward in NYC and gave private lessons to the children there.  As his literature explains, a donation of just fifty dollars puts an instrument into the hands of a child who might not even have the opportunity to experience the gift of music.

Eight local bands were featured in the showcase, with ages ranging from the tweens to early twenties. The wide range of genres surprised me, although the classics are still considered classic (there were two Led Zeppelin covers). It was really interesting to see how these bands described themselves: alternative + jazz, light rock (when I actually thought things sounded more like dance punk), and light grunge as apposed to just grunge (isn't that an oxymoron?)  We were given cards to rate each band on a scale from one to five for originality, musicianship, stage presence and overall performance.  There were also a few lines on the bottom for "notes" which I quickly renamed "helpful suggestions."  As the only woman on the four-person judging panel, I was also probably the only one who used smiley faces in the comment section. (It was just very easy to feel to maternal towards all the musicians, as it reminded me of happy days having my son's band in the basement!) I disregarded my regard for any particular genre, and instead tapped into my performance past as a dancer plus all those countless concerts as a music fan, along with Tom Jackson's "On Stage Success" method. (I've seen him in action twice and even interviewed the guy for PopMatters last June).

Judging panel in action with video guy Paul Seymour in back

When everything was tabulated, thankfully there was a clear winner.  The group, Waiting for Sam, is an alternative jazz quintet of high schoolers with a lead singer that embodies a soulful voice reminding me of Joss Stone. They won a generous $250 gift card to Greenwich Music and a day of recording at the Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT.  In second place was that light rock band called Front Row and in third was the light grunge band Bittersweet. 

Congrats go out to all the bands!  Check out Paul's video compilation below and for more info visit the organization's website

Left to Right: Trombonist Vinny Nobile (The Trummytones, BimSkalaBim, Pilfers, and Less Than Jake), Ray Foote, Co-Founder of Big Foote Music and Sound NYC, Sarah Pyles and Charlie Mangold of the Mangold Music Foundation, me and Joe Summa of Greenwich Music