Monday, March 31, 2014

Upcoming Releases - Listen To Polock New Album Preview & Single "Everlasting"

I was thrilled to hear a new song by the band Polock on WFUV's The Alternate Side the other day. After going to see this band three years ago, I was impressed enough to think there'd make it into the indie mainstream.  The WFUV D.J. even introduced them as "the Spanish Phoenix," a comparison that I had in mind too. Instead, I heard nothing until last week, but a new album called Rising Up is due April 8, with a teaser video available on Youtube or below.

Another album I'm looking forward to is the one from Damon Albarn out April 29, as previewed in earlier posts: the single "Lonely Press Play" here, along with a recent appearance at the SXSW here. Plus the always interesting prolific musician Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes is also getting ready to release a new album, Upside Down Mountain, on May 20.  And with Record Store Day coming up on April 19, there's lots of special releases to entice music lovers into their favorite indie shop (if they're lucky enough to still have one!) LCD Soundsystem is offering up a 5-LP vinyl box set of its final concert at Madison Square Garden in 2011, with a digital/vinyl wide release May 20.  To use the words of LCD frontman James Murphy, "I was there" at Terminal 5 to start off the final week of the band, but could only listen online and view this final concert as part of the film Shut Up And Play The Hits. This new compilation is still quite a temptation for any diehard fan.

UPDATE 4/3: Polock has just released another video for the single "Everlasting"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Band Alert James Supercave -- New EP & Listen To Fave New Song "Burn"

L.A. quintet James Supercave has been getting heavy airplay on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" lately, with its song "Burn" KCRW Song of the Day back in January.  Its instant danceability and classic arty glam rock vibe caught my ear, and it quickly became a "must have" in my musical life. Indeed, Musical Director Jason Bentley named the band one of five to watch in 2014, and I've been eagerly awaiting some sort of official release. This is definitely a band to ready to make their mark.

An EP,  The Afternoon, appeared this week, but my new favorite song was not on it! There is the song "The Right Thing" (listen from the Soundcloud stream here) along with "Old Robot" (check out the sweet little hand drawn lyric video below), but neither have the inner cool of "Burn." Thankfully you can find that one in the KCRW archives here, see if you agree!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Damon Albarn's SXSW Public Radio Rocks Set March 16 (Stream, Photos and Videos)

WFUV has posted the entire set from Damon Albarn's appearance at the Public Radio Rocks showcase during SXSW.  He played new songs from his upcoming solo album, Everyday Robots, due in April. (Check the song "Lonely Press Play" and learn more about this at a previous post here.) Albarn set up to rehearse with local talent and let it rip, calmly in command of the new songs with a ease of a seasoned performer and musician.

Listen to the entire set and see photograph gallery here and watch videos for "Mr. Tembo" and "Heavy Seas of Love" below.  "Heavy Seas of Love" closed the set, a sweet tune that exists as a duet with Brian Eno on the album. Here Albarn sings both parts, but I can't wait to hear that version with my pal from our Asheville airport encounter. There are also sets by The Hold Steady, TemplesPhantogram, Jeremy Messersmith and Lucius all streaming here, along with more exclusive videos. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

SXSW 2014 Media Coverage Recap

Today it was announced that a third victim had died from the terrible crash on the streets of Austin, during this year's SXSW festival.  Pitchfork posted how there are still seven people in the hospital and a new foundation SXSW Cares taking donations for those affected by the tragedy, along with an urgent need for blood donations by The Blood Center of Central Texas. The drunk driver was even a musician, looking for a break of his own.  Mowing down people with a car wasn't originally part of the plan -- neither was the moment of silence at many of the clubs the following night.

Jason Bentley remarked from his post back at KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" that SXSW had clearly gotten out of hand. He said it was now "hard to have a quality experience" with the overcrowding and corporate brand invasion. We were in Austin last fall for the Austin City Limits Music Festival and it was obvious that the city knows how to deal with lots of festival-goers and goings-on.  But something has clearly gone too far with this annual spring rite of passage for many a young band.

Other media reports echoed this sentiment.  The Los Angles Times even reported, "Here's to bad times, colored vomit [referencing Lady Gaga's stage antics] and off-years." On the other coast, The New York Times' article on the event was headlined "Big Money UpEnds A Festival." Yet the thorough slideshows via The Washington Post or NPR Music shows the usual glamour shots of bands on stage and adoring fans reaching for them, both big names and unknowns.  And you can even check out some of the wacky festival fashions over at Noisey. Plus there still was new music being discovered.  SPIN named the five best things they saw at SXSW (Erykah Badu, the Coathangers, Protomartyr, the Wytches and Drenge) while Rolling Stone expanded the list to 48 in order to include the awesome local food truck culture (as well as bands such as KELIS, St. Vincent, Parquet Courts, Damon Albarn, Gary Numan from the 80s and Soundgarden from the 90s and yes, Lady Gaga).

While Neil Young's Pono system project (as announced during the festival, listen to him explain it on NPR here) to allow people to hear the music at the same quality at which it was recorded is all well and good, I still say a favorite song is a favorite song, no matter what kind of speaker it comes through or even when played live. It's about the connection from fan to band, that unspoken truth that rocks your own personal world -- not the corporate sponsors or drunk drivers wrecking havoc. Maybe that's where the focus needs to be at SXSW in the future.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spoon Teases New Album with Video Snippet (NYC Tour Date June 6)

Spoon (Photo via Merge Records)
With all the focus on Austin, Texas, this week during this year's SXSW Music Festival, homegrown band Spoon let out some clues about their next move. In a teaser tweet it was announced on March 9th that they were "one week away from a finished album." Then a video called "Hi" revealed a distorted snippet of very Spoon-like sounds, full of guitar crunch and that raspy snarl of singer Britt Daniel. (He has been busy with side project The Divine Fits, featured in many a past blog post.) It'll be the first new music since 2010's Transference, the quartet's seventh album full of song after song of worthy listening.

The untitled collection is due out sometime this year via Merge Records, can't wait! Spoon is also on the bill for the Governors Ball Music Festival in NYC June 6, so take note of that too.


Monday, March 3, 2014

New Song by Damon Albarn, "Lonely Press Play" (Video & Upcoming U.S. Tour)

Damon Albarn (Photo: Warner Brothers Records)
Damon Albarn recently released a video for a new song, "Lonely Press Play," off his upcoming solo album, Everyday Robots (out April 29 via Warner Brothers Records).  It's a sweet groove of a tune, all squiggles and burps of percussion plus a tiny bit of solo piano, until Albarn's distinctive yet wistful tenor enters.  He resists the urge to build the music, continuing the slow jam only with some vocal doubling, as if to underscore this notion of being alone in the world.  I've loved the warm, communicative power of his voice ever since I learned of Blur late in the game (admittedly influenced by the Oasis overload in the U.S.) and have basked in his creative ventures with the Gorillaz.

The video is a montage of footage off Albarn's own tablet, taken during worldwide travel to Iceland, North Korea, Tokyo, Dallas and his own country of England (London, Colchester and Devon).  He'll be coming to the states this spring to SXSW March 12 at Stubbs, as well as NYC's Governor's Ball June 6 and Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee June 14. Check out the video over on YouTube or here below.