Monday, July 29, 2013

New Song by Jagwar Ma "Come Save Me" (NYC Tour Dates 9/30 & 10/1)

Jagwar Ma (Photo via Mom + Pop Records)
The Australian duo known as Jagwar Ma released their debut album, Howlin, just last month, but it's already being buzzed about as a possible choice for end of the year “Best of 2013” lists.  According to their label, Mom + Pop Music, Gabriel Winterfield and Jono Ma went about “creating a sound that would capture their love of contemporary electronica and classic American Soul.” The album was recorded last year in an empty farm two hours south of Paris, with an 808 (a low tech drum machine), a Fender Jaguar, a pair of vintage Neve console channels and a laptop.

Rather than the two singles (“The Throw” and “Man I Need”), this catchy song “Come Save Me” paves the way as the stand out track in the collection and a perfect introduction to the group.  At first listen, there's the simple draw of a steady beat with handclaps and a sing along chorus (all prerequisites of my favorite tunes) that repeats four times. But a playful synth melody weaves its way in towards the end and takes over the spotlight as things come to a close. In a quick five minutes, you're hooked.

The band has added Jack Freeman on bass for live gigs, which has already included tour dates with Foals and the xx.  They will be coming to the U.S. this fall, check dates below. 

09/30 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
10/01 - Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands

10/03 - San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop

10/04 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Film Society of Lincoln Center Presents David Bowie Series August 2-8

The Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) will present a weeklong series, Watch That Man: David Bowie, Movie Star, August 2 through August 8. After the release of a new album (The Next Day) and a sold-out museum exhibition in London (David Bowie Is), this tribute continues the year’s focus on Bowie’s fascinating career.

Of course there's the epic Man Who Fell to Earth, where Bowie needed no introduction in 1976 as a perfectly cast alien. (I sat through an extended Director’s cut, quite the marathon and let’s just say I saw more than I ever needed to of David Bowie with the nudity involved!) However, his work in the 80s is well represented: The Hunger (1983), Labyrinth (1986), and Absolute Beginners (1986).  Plus another one I can’t believe I sat through with its horrific torture scenes, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1982). 

There’s also Bowie’s take as Andy Warhol in Basquait (1996) and as the inventor Nicola Tesla in The Prestige (2006).
Two rarities from the BBC’s archives include the U.S. Premiere of Alan Clarke’s musical adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Baal with Bowie in the title role, and a rare screening of Alan Yentob’s BBC documentary Cracked Actor (1975) which will be paired with a fun retrospective I can’t miss, David Bowie: The Music Videos 1979 – 2013.  Another offering features D.A. Pennebaker’s concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – The Motion Picture (1973). 

All screenings will take place at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street. For further information visit the FSLC website here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Releases EP & Announces Tour (NYC Date 10/2)

A reconfigured Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (CYHSY) have released an EP, Little Moments, ahead of a new album to be released next January.  Just one year ago the band's demise seemed inevitable during a show during the CBGB Festival in Times Square, shortly after it was announced that Robbie Guertin was leaving the band along with twin brothers Lee and Tyler Sargent.  That left vocalist Alec Ounsworth and drummer Sean Greenhaulgh (also a multi-instrumentalist and music producer) to either pick up the pieces or continue their solo projects, as dabbled in over the years since the band began.

CYHSY met while students at Connecticut College and self-released their self-titled debut album when it was unheard of doing so in the spring of 2005.  It didn't hurt that Ounsworth's vocals recalled David Byrne's neurotic urgency and the band offered blurry, complex but interesting songs with a danceable vibe. Using that initial buzz across the internet, the band continued to corner the indie rock market with 2007's Some Loud Thunder and 2011's Hysterical.

A week ago, a cryptic tweet by CYHSY told fans "very interesting news coming very soon" before today's release of four songs, along with some tour dates for the fall (see below).  As detailed on the CYHSY Facebook page, the tracks were created in Ounsworth's Philadelphia home studio.  There are two A-sides from the new album (although not final mixes, the band plans to work with Dave Fridmann of Flaming Lips and MGMT fame again for that process) along with two B-sides.  From the pulsing synth intro of "Little Moments" to the conversational snippets that gives way to a dance beat in "Only Run," it seems CYHSY has maintained that frenetic sound that could still border on joy. The two B-sides, “Heaven” and “Once,” offer spacey jams that easily bring the band back to life.

Link to CYHSY's Bandcamp page to take a listen and order up the EP along with other merch here. I was also thrilled to scoop up some tix to see the band (though reformed -- they've been on my concert bucket list for awhile now, along with Arcade Fire and Beck if you want to ask!)

Track List:
1. Little Moments (EP Version)
2. Only Run (EP Version)
3. Heaven (B-side)
4. Once (B-side)

Tour Dates:

8/1 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
9/24 - Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
9/26 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland (w/ Stars)
9/27 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
9/28 - Toronto, ONT @ Lee's
9/29 - Montreal, ONT @ Cabaret Mile-End
10/1 - Boston, MA @ Middle East
10/2 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
10/5 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Song by Travis "Moving" (Album due August 20 & NYC tour date Sept. 23)

Scotland's alternative band Travis is back after a five year break with their seventh studio album, Where You Stand, due August 20 from their own label Red Telephone Box via Kobalt Label Services. This video for a single called "Moving" shows the group in the cold darkness, knitted caps and all, with their breath animated in real time (no post production either).  According to band's website, this is "to give the effect of plucking shapes and figures out of thin air." According to, the London-based team of Tom Wrigglesworth and Matt Robinson, aka Wriggles & Robins, created the intriguing visuals.

It's a great video to watch on a hot summer's day.  The instrumental intro sounds like it could be any mellow indie song, until Fran Healy's vocals take hold and remind me why I love this band. He takes a soaring melody and strings it along, conveying a breathy warmth with every syllable.  It all seems so effortless.  Check out the video, along with some U.S. tour dates coming up this fall, below.

09/22 - Boston, MA @ House of Blues
09/23 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
09/26 - Detroit, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre District
09/27 - Chicago, IL @ The Vic
09/29 - Kansas City, MO @ Harrah's Voodoo Lounge
10/01 - Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre
10/04 - Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Theatre
10/05 - San Francisco, CA @ Regency Theatre Grand Ballroom
10/06 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues

Monday, July 15, 2013

Starbucks Sounds of Summer Compilation 2013

I admit going to great lengths for new music compilations.  I'll happily hand over my email or even pay for such things, always looking another favorite song to add to my next playlist.  In a recent email from The Olms, the new band with Pete Yorn, there was a link to a free eight-song compilation produced by Starbucks which I snapped up immediately. It has "Wanna Feel It," The Olms' song that is found on my own Summer 2013 New Music Playlist, as well as the self-titled song by California band Cayucas (the group's song, "High School Lover," was featured on my Spring 2013 New Music Playlist).  There's also "Ride On/Right On" by Phosphorescent, another band from that playlist but represented with "Song for Zula."

Plus there are two songs I have cued up for my next playlist, so it brought mixed emotions to see them already posted.  The compilation includes the new single, "It All Feels Right," from Washed Out's upcoming album,  Paracosm, which I wrote about here.  Brazos' "How the Ranks Was Won," is a sweet tune that stuck with me after a listen through a publicity email. Check out a live and official video for the song in my post about the band back in April.  The 10th anniversary edition of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" rounds out the collection, along with a song by Jenny O. and Marie 7 the redCat.  

Pick up your own copy of the "Starbucks Sounds of Summer," now through July 29 here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Album Out From Blake Hazard (of The Submarines)

The last time Blake Hazard released a solo album was back in 2002 with Little Airplane. It seems she's on her own again, with a self-released collection called The Eleanor Islands, out July 9.  I fell for her former band, The Submarines, extremely hard with Hazard's authentic singing and plenty of infectious indie pop tunes. Her vocals are still strong and clear, but the sonic footing seems a bit unsure in these new songs without her former bandmate and husband, John Dragonetti.

interviewed the couple before a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg during a tour in support of their third full length album, 2011's Love Notes/Letter Bombs.  The couple was still mining their relationship for songwriting, a roller coaster of ups and downs that provided a genuine intention to communicate with fans, not just each other.  Their voices also complemented each other just like their personalities seemed to, a yin and yang of outgoing Hazard and laid back Dragonetti.

The video (directed by Simone Leuck) for the single off this new album, "Colonade," finds Hazard alone on a hotel bed evoking the past with a retro look topped off by her trademark blond braids.  I'll also post my favorite track off Hazard's SoundCloud page, "Energy And Consequences," but maybe that's because it has all the elements of a classic Submarines song.  Take a listen to the electronic flourishes over a standard band set up, soaring melody, and yes, heart on the sleeve lyrics about this new stage in life.

Fun fact: Hazard made a cameo appearance in Baz Luhrmann's recent adaptation of her great-grandfather's book, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Octopus Project Releases New Album & Announces Tour (NYC Date 8/17)

Postcard Promotional Mailer
The Octopus Project's fifth feature-length album, Fever Forms, is out today via Peek-A-Boo Records.  To get my hands on some bonus tracks, I pre-ordered the album directly from the label, only to spend the morning waiting for the download code and filling the hole with previews on iTunes.  There's also this video for the second single, "Sharpteeth" to revisit (I wrote about the first single, "Whitby" here). A pulsating intro pulls the listener into their world of indietronica, where musicality meets rampant creativity.  The song embraces vocals in a simplistic way, while a complicated instrumentation takes over until it all collides into an ending.  The Octopus Project directed the video, shot by the Zellner Brothers at the Scottish Rite Theater in Austin, Texas and according to Peek-A-Boo Records, "in its surrounding mystery jungles" where "psychic misadventures ensue."

In the middle of all this is Yvonne Lambert's lovely theremin solo, played with the poise of a ballerina.  When I interviewed the band after seeing them perform at Moogfest 2010, I told her how I could tell she was a dancer right away since I was a fellow dancer-type. Indeed, Lambert took lessons as a child and it's apparently transferred over into the skill required to play this early Moog synthesizer.  She certainly shines in the spotlight in the video wearing a glorious golden, retro-style shift. Check out the video along with the new album tracks wherever you get your music. The band also announced some tour dates, see list below and here's a link to my PopMatters concert review back in April 2011.

07/20 - Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
07/22 - Austin, TX @ Waterloo Records (free!)
08/06 - New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
08/07 - Mobile, AL @ Alabama Music Box
08/09 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
08/10 - Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
08/11 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
08/13 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's
08/14 - Washington DC @ DC9
08/15 - Cambridge, MA @ TT the Bears #
08/16 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
08/17 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
08/19 - Columbus, OH @ Kobo
08/20 - Pontiac, MI @ The Pike Room
08/23 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
08/24 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
08/25 - Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar
09/05 - Bryan, TX @ Grand Stafford Theater
09/07 - San Antonio, TX @ Limelite
09/11 - Norman, OK @ Opolis *
09/13 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge *
09/14 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
09/16 - Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey *
09/17 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios *
09/19 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow's Club*
09/20 - San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord *
09/21 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo *
09/22 - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar *
09/24 - Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room *
10/07 - London, UK @ The Garage +
10/08 - Sint-Niklas, BE @ De Casino +
10/09 - Haarlem, NL @ Patronaat +
10/10 - Berlin, DE @ Festsaal Kreuzberg +
10/11 - Helsinki, FI @ Tavastia +
10/12 - Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Medis +
10/13 - Copenhagen, DK @ Vega +
10/15 - Stuttgart, DE @ 1210 +
10/16 - Steyr, AT @ Roeda +
10/17 - Bologna, IT @ Locomotiv +
10/18 - Milan, IT @ Lo-Fi Club +
10/19 - Montpellier, FR @ Secret Place +
# w/ Crystal Stilts
* w/ Paper Lions
+ w/ Man Or Astro-Man?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

YouTube Playlist of Summer 2013 New Music Songs

You gotta love the rainbow colored heart by the YouTube logo -- my Summer 2013 New Music playlist yielded mostly official videos this time around. I was hoping for a rockin' live version of Divine Fit's "Ain't That the Way," since they're so awesome on stage (We were lucky enough to catch them early at Moogfest 2012) but I had to use a bootleg of an audio upload. Maybe there will be one to use in the future?

"Modern Jesus" by Portugal. The Man. is represented by a very pared down acoustic version on a small stage for 91X radio in San Diego, California.  However, there were two songs in my collection that just couldn't be represented.  I'll link to the Soundcloud pages for Honeymoon and Secret Colors instead, see below.  Link to the rest of the playist here.