Tuesday, March 22, 2016

New Song by Cullen Omori, "Cinnamon" (New Album Out)

Cullen Omori (photo via Sub Pop Records)
My new favorite song "Cinnamon" has a familiar sound - shiny pop melodies, a peppy beat and just enough of a laid back sensibility to call it indie. The tune is off the solo debut New Misery by Cullen Omori of Smith Westerns, a band formed with his brother Cameron back in their Chicago high school.  I eagerly picked Smith Westerns for my Spring 2011 New Music Playlist and Early Summer 2013 New Music Playlist before catching them at the 2013 ACL Music Festival.

Without the groupthink of being a band member, Cullen Omori wrote, played and oversaw all the parts played by Ryan Mattos (additional bass and keyboards), Loren Humphrey (drums) and James Richardson (guitar). It is the result of his musical growing pains of going at it alone (see the poignant moment where he takes a match to some old concert posters in the video.) Omori says the album's title reflects "not so much the distress that comes with failure, but the troubles and complexities that come with any type of success. No matter what you get you’re going to want more, you’re going to want something different. That’s the catch.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

New Order @ Radio City Music Hall March 10

U.K. legends New Order will always have a special place in my musical collection, with appearances on past Romantic Songs for Valentine's Day (2014 and 2016) and the soundtrack of dancing in NYC clubs back in the 80s, but I'd never seen them live. With a new album last fall, Music Complete, the group planned a six-night American tour to support the new songs and refresh memories of the older ones.

With the majestic Radio City Music Hall filled to the brim, the band began confidently with a new song, "Singularity." While this material doesn't deviate much from the dance music formula from decades ago (chunky bass lines and soaring melodies galore as sung by
Bernard Sumner along side half the original band members), it was clearly the older tunes that the crowd was waiting for to dance and sing along.  "Temptation," "Ceremony," "Bizarre Love Triangle" and "Age of Consent" were all rolled out, along with "You Silent Face," the composition that Moby has remarked how it proved electronic music could be beautiful in its own right. (For a refresher, listen to my New Order Faves playlist on Spotify.) The busy projections behind the musicians competed with the audience attention, but acoustically there could be no complaints -- the sound was perfectly supplemented by plenty of prerecorded tracks.

The encore was shortened from two songs to only one with a strict curfew at the venue (surely someone could have done the math?) Without time for the mega-hit "Blue Monday," the Joy Division song "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was still a fitting tribute to the genesis of the music -- starting over after the suicide of vocalist Ian Curtis -- as the words JOY DIVISION FOREVER drew huge cheers. Check out the video for the song on YouTube or here, still echoing in my heart. And my PopMatters pal Sachyn Mital took some awesome photos of the night, link here.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spring 2016 New Music Playlist

Since I recently learned that March 1st is the meteorological start of spring, I won’t hesitate to share this playlist as the official one for the next season. Besides, there are plenty of new albums to check out – from faves like Santigold, Peter Yorn, Wild Nothing and Bibio to new bands such as James Supercave and Bob Moses. And check out teaser singles from upcoming releases by Andrew Bird, Bear Hands, Caveman, The Boxer Rebellion and Woods.  Listen via Spotify or as a YouTube playlist.

1. “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” – Santigold
Santigold is the stage name of Santi White, a Philly singer and producer whose artistry extends into costumes and choreography for her live shows. This bouncy pop single lambasting our self-absorbed culture is off her third studio album since 2003, 99¢.

2. “Burn” – James Supercave
L.A. trio James Supercave recorded its debut album Better Strange, with a solid psych-pop credo. According to singer Joaquin Pastor, this song “Burn” was “born from a bass line and wants to suck you in.” Done.

3. “Nobody Dies” – Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
San Francisco based Thao & The Get Down Stay Down is an alt folk group that just released a fourth album since 2003, A Man Alive. The new collection was produced by Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards with a focus on accentuating the playful percussive textures.

4. “Hour” – Porches
Porches is the musical project of Aaron Maine, who has released a second album called Pool after four years on the scene. “Hour” is a lush synth reverie with sweet backing vocals by his life partner, Frankie Cosmos.

5. “Never Ever” – STRFKR
Portland’s indie rock band STRFKR has released this stand-alone single, “Never Ever,” with a trademark danceable groove.  The group is gearing up for a fifth album since the band formed in 2007.

6. “Feeling” – Bibio
Bibio, a.k.a. Stephen Wilkinson, is an English music producer with a love for mixing new and retro sounds with gusto. He just released his eighth studio album since 2005, A Mineral Love.

7. “Tearing Me Up” – Bob Moses
Bob Moses is an electronic duo from Vancouver but now based in Brooklyn.  Singer/songwriter Tom Howie and Berlin-style techno geek Jimmy Vallance joined their skills for a post-club aesthetic, creating pop melodies over cool house music.

8. “Capsized” – Andrew Bird
Chicago’s prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird will soon release his thirteenth album since 1996, Are You Serious. The single “Capsized” serves as the opening track with a typical timeless musicality but more personal lyrics that open up about marriage and parenthood.

9. “To Know You” – Wild Nothing
Virginia based musician Jack Tatum steps out of the bedroom recordings vibe for his third studio album since 2009 as Wild Nothing, Life of Pause. Tatum admits “there’s a different kind of ‘self’ this time around,” by using a full band in production and it shows.

10. “Voices in My Head” – Bob Mould
San Francisco alt rocker Bob Mould (best known as the vocalist for Hüsker Dü and Sugar) is ready with his twelfth solo album since 1989, Patch the Sky. He confidently returns with a straightforward, storytelling style in “Voices in My Head.”

11. “2AM” – Bear Hands
Brooklyn’s raucous indie rock quartet Bear Hands will release its third album since 2006, You’ll Pay for This. The catchy tune “2AM” extols the world of late night partying with a tongue-in-cheek wit.

12. “Spirits” – The Strumbellas
Canadian indie rock/alt country six-piece The Strumbellas is releasing a third album since 2008, Hope. The collective mindset of the song’s sing-along style complements the band’s fake family moniker.

13. “Never Going Back” – Caveman
The sweeping composition “Never Going Back,” serves as the first single from the upcoming album by Brooklyn indie rock/pop quintet Caveman. It is the band’s third release since 2010, called Otero War.

14. “Cold Light” – Operators
The driving force behind “Cold Light” is the gritty vocals of Montreal’s Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, and Divine Fits). His latest band will soon release a debut album, Blue Wave.

15. “Big Ideas” – The Boxer Rebellion
London indie rock quartet The Boxer Rebellion brings its lush, dreamy sound to the new song “Big Ideas.” It is the single for an upcoming fifth album since 2001, Ocean by Ocean.

16. “Exit 353” – Damien Jurado
Seattle’s indie rock singer/songwriter Damien Jurado will release the final album of a trilogy, Visions of Us on the Land. This is Jurado’s twelfth album since 1995, and the majestic song “Exit 353” revolves around the character being left behind on a vacant earth. 

17. I’m Not the One” – Pete Yorn
New Jersey raised now L.A. based singer/songwriter Pete Yorn is ready with his seventh solo album since 2010, Arranging Time. After The Olms side project, Yorn returns to his roots – an outpouring of personal emotions as evidenced in “I’m Not the One.”

18. “Can’t See at All” – Woods
Brooklyn folk rock band Woods will release its ninth studio album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light. The single “Can’t See at All” is imbedded with the group’s distinctive laidback musicality.

Friday, March 4, 2016

New Song by Bear Hands, "2 AM" (New Album Out April 15)

Bear Hands (photo via BearHandsBand.com)
The new kicky tune "2 AM" by Brooklyn-based Bear Hands was an easy pick for my next playlist. Filled with the yore of house parties and a chorus with the parental admonishment of "Nothing good happens after 2 AM," this witty song extols the longing of the ageless. It will appear on the upcoming release You'll Pay for This, due April 15 via Cantora Records.

Self described as both post-punk and indie rock, Bear Hands was formed in 2006 and have two albums plus two EPs to date. The early days began after Dylan Rau and Ted Feldman met at Wesleyan University, forming the band with Val Loper and TJ Orscher. College classmates (and label compadres) MGMT provided a few opening slots which quickly brought the attention of a wider audience. Their song "Giants," from the last album Distraction, appeared on my Winter 2014 Playlist and I can't wait to give a listen to the new album. Check out the video for "2 AM" below as directed by Sami Jano and Steve Meierding, technically a "lyric video" with signage displayed appropriately throughout the scene.