Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winter 2015 New Music Playlist

Needless to say, winter has arrived. Let’s hope the Blizzard of 2015 is just that – one for the ages. Digging out to new music while sending good thoughts to the Boston area and those with much more snow than we in the NYC area. Check out debuts by Will Butler and Museum of Love plus returning salvos by Modest Mouse, Mew and The Go! Team. There’s also plenty to get a dance party going (YACHT, Mark Ronson, Belle & Sebastian and Stars) or mellow out with The Lone Bellow and The Decemberists. Link to listen here or check it out as a YouTube playlist and enjoy! 

1. “Where Does This Disco?” – YACHT
L.A.-based YACHT released this catchy stand-alone single with its stylistic stamp of dance punk meets synth pop. Formed by duo Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans in 2002, the pair expands with a touring band for their energetic live shows.

2. “Daffodils (featuring Kevin Parker)” – Mark Ronson
This collaboration between producer Mark Ronson and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is just one of three found on the hit album Uptown Special. Parker’s cool vocals float over one gigantic groove, blending into an unexpected genre-smashing delight

3. “Take My Side” – Will Butler
Arcade Fire’s Will Butler adds another side project with a solo debut, Policy, due in March. The lead single, “Take My Side,” is a confident tune infused with infectious energy, from his antsy singing to non-stop strumming guitars and a rockin’ beat.

4. “Ferus Gallery” – Allah-Las
L.A. alt rock quartet Allah-Las started playing its mix of psych rock and garage pop in 2008. “Ferus Gallery” exudes a classic laid-back California vibe on the aptly named sophomore album Worship the Sun.

5. “Boys Latin” ­– Panda Bear
Baltimore musician Panda Bear (a.k.a. Noah Lennox, co-founder of Animal Collective) is now creating his experimental compositions while living in Lisbon. This single off the fifth album since 1999, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, features his layered vocals amid a garrulous foundation of electronica.

6. “Competition” – The Dodos
The Dodos, San Francisco’s indie rock duo of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, has been exploring percussion driven music since 2005. “Competition” is the single for its sixth full release, Individ, with weaving rhythms and fingerpicking guitar grounded by Long’s warm, earnest voice.

7. “Down South” – Museum of Love
Former LCD Soundsystem drummer Pat Mahoney establishes himself on a new dance music path with Dennis McNanay. This first song, “Down South,” off the self-titled debut album, chugs along with poise.

8. “The Party Line” – Belle & Sebastian
Glasgow pop band Belle & Sebastian is back with Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, the ninth album since 1996 (and its first in five years). The party vibe is kicked into high gear and the group aesthetic sounds as taut as ever.

9. “No One Is Lost” – Stars
Canadian quintet Stars released its seventh studio album since 2000, No One Is Lost. This title track is an upbeat song with surprisingly dark lyrics, smooth harmonies and an irresistible dance beat.

10. “Simple Machine” – Guster
Boston alt rock band Guster is back with its seventh collection since 1991, finding a new vigor with producer (plus bassist for The Black Keys and keyboardist for The Shins) Richard Swift. “Simple Machine” is a delightful romp of a song and is the first single from the album, Evermotion.

11. “Lampshades on Fire” – Modest Mouse
Seattle-based indie rock band Modest Mouse returns with a sixth album since 1993, Strangers to Ourselves (its first since 2007). “Lampshades on Fire” is the first single for the upcoming release, full of the unyielding angst fans expect from the group.

12. “Moonlight” – Hanni El Khatib
“Moonlight” is the title track that leads off the third album by L.A.-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Hanni El Khatib. The quirky intro leads into a shadowy world of jagged rhythms and shaggy group vocals.

13. “The Scene Between” – The Go! Team
This song is the title track and teaser single for a fourth album since 2000 by The Go! Team, a band from Brighton. The contagious combination of hip hop and electro, screaming guitars plus cheers and chants is the brainchild of Ian Parton.

14. “Empty Nesters” – Toro y Moi
Toro y Moi is the musical project of California-based Chazwick Bundick, ready with his fourth album since 2008, entitled What For? “Empty Nesters” veers away from the retro R&B of the last collection, embracing a solid guitar pop sound this go-around.

15. “Make You Better” – The Decemberists
Indie folk rock quintet The Decemberists released its seventh album since 2000, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, ending four years of silence. Colin Meloy continues his role as the charismatic narrator (lead vocals, guitar and principal songwriter) in this first single “Make You Better.”

16. “Every Age” – José González
Swedish singer-songwriter and guitarist José González has combined classical guitar with soft vocal melodies since 2003, also contributing to the band Junip. “Every Age” is a languid, haunting single from the upcoming album Vestiges & Claws, his first solo release in seven years.

17. “Satellites” – Mew
Danish alternative quartet Mew (active since 1994) is back after six years with a future release, +-. “Satellites” serves as the first single, with lead vocalist Jonas Bjerre’s high vocal range soaring over this characteristically epic tune.

18. “Shadows” – Ryan Adams
North Carolina native Ryan Adams is releasing a self-titled album by default since he couldn’t decide on another name. (To his credit, he has had to title fourteen of them since 1991.) “Shadows” showcases Adams anthemic songwriting, utilizing a voice consistently up for the challenge.

19. “Then Came the Morning” – The Lone Bellow
Southern-born but now Brooklyn-based indie folk trio The Lone Bellow recently released its second album since 2011. “Then Came the Morning” is the title track; its swelling harmonies over spare instrumentation allow the human element to shine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Song by The Go! Team "The Scene Between" (Album Due March 24)

Ian Parton (Photo via Memphis Industries)
U.K. band The Go! Team is back with a new video for the title track of the upcoming release, The Scene Between (due March 24 via Memphis Industries).  This is the latest album since 2011's Blackouts, with ensuing rumors that it could be the last effort by the band. So I was thrilled to hear this news and dive into the world of exuberance that is The Go! Team, as embodied in this psychedelic video. As directed by James Slater, it stars a choir of everyday people in neon robes amid majestic landscapes from around the world. The songs have always had way too much going on yet it somehow all makes sense, while elevating the listener into a borderless community of race and musical genres.

Brighton's Ian Parton had this vision to mix Sonic Youth-style guitars and double Dutch chants, plus elements of classic hip hop, electro and over the top Bollywood productions. The first album (2004's Thunder, Lightning, Strike) was created in his parent's kitchen, so he had to put together a band when asked to play festivals after this successful debut. The breakout song, "The Power Is On," found its way onto commercial and movie soundtracks, but I remember "We Just Won't Be Defeated" as my favorite. Its unapologetic simple piano introduction brings on a "Let's Rock" in vocals and attitude, along with an uplifting chorus of horns. This edge of cacophony is found in the new song as well, allowing a refreshing humanistic world view and inviting us along.  Listen to "The Scene Below" with the video below -- just don't be shy to add some jazz hands of your own.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Birthday Playlist of Random Songs Heard January 15, 2015

Birthday dinner with oyster shooters & our BYO OLD BAY
Like my post last year, I started a list of songs heard during my birthday that seemed chosen especially for me. So here's another playlist of music that appeared throughout the day as I tuned into fave radio stations KEXP, KCRW and WFUV's The Alternate Side online or otherwise in the kitchen, at my desk or in the car. I also enjoyed John In the Morning's pick of "Spiritual High Part III" by Moodswings, sampling the famous words of Martin Luther King with whom I share my birthday. (I'll post it below, always inspirational but especially appropriate as we head into the long MLK holiday weekend.) There was also a live session with Panda Bear on KCRW -- listen to it in the archives here -- that I enjoyed midday as if I was in the room.  And on my way home from a yoga class later I heard that Field Report song, "Home (Leave the Lights On)" that I wrote about during an emotional time last fall. During this listen however I turned the corner and saw my own cozy house lit up in welcome, simply because I had thought to turn on the lights before I left. It was a nod to being another year older and a nice reminder to take care of myself.

Take a listen on Spotify here or at the widget on the home screen.

1. "Dreams Never End" - New Order
2. "Follow" - Mr. Gnome
3. "All My Friends" - LCD Soundsystem
4. "Where It's At" - Beck
5. "First Song" - Band of Horses
6. "Jumping Jack Flash" - Rolling Stones
7. "Home (Leave a Light On)" - Field Report

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Here's to 2015 -- New Releases (Listen to "Daffodils" by Mark Ronson w/Kevin Parker of Tame Impala)

New Year's Eve Festivities in Easton, Maryland via The Star Democrat
Happy New Year to my fellow new music fiends! After celebrating the arrival of 2015 worldwide (even the Eastern Shore of Maryland where I spent much of 2014 was featured on CNN, although it was probably just chosen so Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin could make raunchy crab jokes) winter has settled in with a vengeance here in the Northeast. It seems a perfect time to focus on future releases that will warm my soul with new tunes in the coming months. After pouring over comprehensive lists of upcoming albums, I found plenty of favorite bands to get excited about (see list below).

Mark Ronson's song with Bruno Mars "Uptown Funk" might be everywhere, but his "Daffodils" is a catchy groove with floating psychedelic vocals by Kevin Parker of Tame Impala -- an instant favorite for my next playlist and I crank up the volume every time it gets a play on KEXP or KCRW.  Check it out below and also if you haven't heard the new song "Take My Side" by Will Butler head over to Soundcloud. The kid brother of Arcade Fire singer Win Butler is staking his claim to a solo career after various side projects. As he asks in song, "Are you gonna take my side?" I'm already there.

NEW RELEASES TO WATCH FOR IN 2015: Updated as needed
January 13 - Mark Ronson, Uptown Special (Sony Music Entertainment)
January 13 - Panda Bear, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (Domino Recording Company)
January 20 - The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (Capitol Records)
January 20 - Belle & Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador Records)
January 27 - The Dodos, Individ (Polyvinyl Records)
February 10 - Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear (Sub Pop Records)
February 17 - José González, Vestiges & Claws (Mute)
February 27 - Dan Deacon, Gliss Riffer (Domino Recording Company)
February 27 - of Montreal, Aureate Gloom (Polyvinyl Records)
March 1 - Jon Hopkins, Late Night Tales (Night Time Stories Ltd)
March 3 - Modest Mouse, Strangers to Ourselves (Epic Records)
March 10 - Will Butler, Policy (Merge Records)
March 24 - The Cribs, For All My Sisters (Sonic Blew/Sony Red)
March 24 - The Go! Team, The Scene (Memphis Industries)
March 31 - Death Cab for Cutie, Kintsugi, (Atlantic Recording Company)
March 31 - Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
April 7 - Toro Y Moi, What For? (Carpark Records)
April 7 - Lord Huron, Strange Trails (IAMSOUND Records)
April 14 - Calexico, Edge of the Sun (Anti, Inc.)
April 14 - Villagers, Darling Arithmetic (Domino Recording Company)
April 28 - Mew, +/- (Play It Again Sam)
April 28 - Blur, The Magic Whip (Parlaphone Records/Warner Music)
May 5 - Best Coast, California Nights (Harvest Records)
May 19 - Hot Chip, Why Make Sense (Domino Recording Company)
May 26 - Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar)
TBA - My Morning Jacket, Beach House, Band of Horses, Passion Pit, Radiohead, Django Django and Tame Impala!