Alice In Chains

Catching Up On The Week (Aug. 21 Edition)

A handful of #longreads to help you pass the time this weekend…

This week marked the anniversary of several important albums, and there are of course tributes to these records for those who feel the need to revisit the past.   For instance, today marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Facelift, the debut album from Alice In Chains.  Loudwire has a recap of the history of one of grunge’s first big hits, an album that has held up surprisingly well after a quarter of a century.  There is a surprising amount of diversity on Facelift, especially on the second half of the record, and it is well worth revisiting if you have neglected listening to it in its entirety lately.

Another classic album that was released the same day was Jane’s Addiction smash hit Ritual de lo Habitual, and Rolling Stone has a track-by-track breakdown of the record with singer Perry Farrell and guitarist Dave Navarro.  If you have never listened to the album because you have heard “Been Caught Stealing” enough times in your life, you are missing out.

Rolling Stone also has an interview with Shirley Manson of Garbage, as she reflects on the twenty years since the release of the band’s self-titled debut.  Stereogum also steps in to provide a twentieth anniversary essay of Garbage that features an opening paragraph that is so wrong that you will probably spend hours looking for videos of The Clash on YouTube to help cleanse yourself.

A better Stereogum piece is the essay commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Rancid’s breakthrough album ..And Out Come The Wolves.  I am sure the guys in Rancid would agree with my previous point about The Clash.

The AV Club has a great piece looking at the history of the making of Jimi Hendrix’s one-off record with Band of Gypsys.  As someone who much prefers the work of the ensemble that made up the Jimi Hendrix Experience, it gave me a new-found appreciation of what the group was attempting to accomplish.  Plus, I learned that Hendrix once played guitar on a Jayne Mansfield novelty song!

Finally, as Deerhunter prepares for the release of their next album, you can help prepare for the group’s sonic shift with this Pitchfork interview with frontman Bradford Cox.

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Over the Weekend (Aug. 10 Edition)

New music, news, and other fun useless stuff as you recover from an unexpected night out…

Last week we linked to an interview with guitarist Spiral Stairs as he revealed his favorite Pavement songs, and this week we can share the thoughts of another member of the band.  Stephen Malkmus talked to Newsweek about several of the songs that appear on the rarities compilation The Secret History, Vol. 1, providing background on their creation to the best of his ability.

90’s-influenced noise-rockers Deaf Wish shared the video for their single “On”, capturing the strange ending to what was apparently a bizarre television show.

Earl Sweatshirt also released a video this week, sharing a gloomy animated vision for “Off Top” from his stellar recent release, I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside.

Alternative Nation has footage and background from an early Alice in Chains show, recorded in December of 1989 in Pullman, Washington.  The show takes place months before the release of their debut album Facelift, so it provides an interesting record of the group moments before they hit it big.

Hutch Harris contributes a great review to The Talkhouse, a site where albums are discussed and reviewed by other artists, providing a critical and loving assessment of the newest solo album from guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes.

And finally, it was announced that singer Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio has joined with vocalist Mike Patton (Faith No More, Fantomas, Peeping Tom, Mr. Bungle, etc.) and rapper Doseone for a project called The Nevermen.  Consequence of Sound has the details, including a SoundCloud link to the lead single “Tough Towns”.  After that, be sure to check out an edition of Kids Interview Bands that TV on the Radio recently shared, where the band finally answers exactly what kind of cookie can be found in Cookie Mountain.

Catching Up On The Week (Apr. 3 Edition)

Some #longreads as you prepare for April showers…

If you’re in the part of the country where the gradual shift into spring has begun, with all of its resultant precipitation (as captured in the above line), you may be feeling a little bummed.  However, you should not despair that it’s not safe to lounge around outside quite yet; instead, head to the garage and start working on that album you always said you would make.  The AV Club has a primer on garage rock bands to help provide you with the necessary inspiration.

Or if there is too much crap cluttering up your garage, you can head to the basement and record down there.  Stereogum has a piece celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the lo-fi classic Alien Lanes from Guided By Voices to give you a blueprint.  If GBV can crank out 28 songs for this album, then you can manage to at least write one song, right?

Perhaps you still need help in finding a particular sound.  Then I recommend reading this essay from frontman William DuVall of the reunited version of Alice In Chains, wherein he discusses the pivotal songs that shaped his guitar playing.  He has some great suggestions, including this classic.

One of the big releases this week was Death Cab For Cutie’s Kintsugi, and to help provide some background on the album you can read this SPIN interview with the band.  For those of you wishing to dive into the back catalog of the group, lead singer Ben Gibbard provides a roadmap with this Vulture piece that details his favorite songs from each record.

Finally, Pitchfork has profiles on two wildly different artists, one with rapper Earl Sweatshirt and the other with Katie Crutchfield, who performs lo-fi rock as Waxahatchee, while Rolling Stone introduces its readers to Thundercat, who was one of the creative forces behind Kendrick Lamar’s latest album.

Over the Weekend (Jan. 19 Edition)

Videos, news, and other fun music-related articles as you celebrate today’s holiday

In honor of today’s holiday, I hope you take some time to read Killer Mike’s excellent op-ed on how we should pay tribute to Dr. King’s true legacy.  Mike emphasizes the revolutionary ideals of Dr. King, and pushes us to do more than talk vaguely about his virtue but to take action.

Flying Lotus continues to deliver thought-provoking videos for his recent album, You’re Dead!,  with the latest being the dark and disturbing “Coronus, The Terminator”.  He writes in the comments, “For me, Coronus is one of the most important moments on You’re Dead! and holds ideas I’m planning to explore in my future work. I’m happy that the visual encapsulates the meaning of the record and this ambition[.]”

Modest Mouse also released their latest video this morning, with the fan site Interstate-8 providing the video for the track “Coyotes”.  The band had given a tease for the video this past weekend by posting a tweet of the video’s star, so at least those of us who were befuddled by the message now at least understand the meaning.

As a fan of Seattle bands (and the city in general) but not of their football team, it’s been a pretty difficult month.  First, I have to deal with Pearl Jam selling special “12th Man” t-shirts as well as Mike McCready raising a special 12th Man flag at the Space Needle, and then I have to see that Alice in Chains performed at halftime at the game on Sunday.  That said, it’s terrible for Fox not to have broadcast it, but kudos for the various fans who have been sharing footage from the show. (Update: The Seahawks are now sharing official footage of the performance.)

Most people know that bands often make ridiculous demands in their Tour Rider, but few make an actual game of it.  Enter the Foo Fighters, who included an activity book to help hammer home the important points and make sure that the various venues actually paid attention.

And finally, proof once again of the importance of music, with a recent study that shows that music training provides significant benefits to development in children’s brains.

Over the Weekend (Oct. 13 Edition)

News and video as you prepare for a week of facing the Pumpkin Spice onslaught

Thurston Moore has a new solo album coming out next week, and NPR has The Best Day available on their First Listen stream.  I loved his two most recent solo records, Trees Outside the Academy and Demolished Thoughts, which show a more sedate, folkier version of what one might expect from the Sonic Youth frontman.  If that worries you, take comfort in the fact that Moore throws on the distortion for this one.

On Friday we mentioned how Kendrick Lamar’s “i” was received with an underwhelming reaction; however, people were gushing over his appearance on Flying Lotus’s “Never Catch Me” off the latter’s new album, You’re Dead.  Enjoy the video, featuring some fantastic dancing by a couple of precocious dancers.

David Bowie released a new song this morning, the jazzy, seven-minute long “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)”.  It will be available on the upcoming compilation Nothing Has Changed, which aims to replace the version of Changesbowie which is now taking up space on your shelf.  At the very least, you can have a compilation which also includes “I’m Afraid of Americans”.

Consequence of Sound has the newest track from …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, as well as an explanation of its inspiration.  “A Million Random Digits” is from IX, which will be released next month on the 11th.

Peter Matthew Bauer isn’t done releasing new material, as he offered up the new track “You Always Look For Someone Lost” on SoundCloud.  He also released a new video with an interview that helps explain the song as well.

Foo Fighters are being a bit more coy with their previews, offering only glimpses of tracks.  Alternative Press notes that you can hear clips of two new songs from this trailer for the upcoming Sonic Highways.

And last week, Ryan Adams was apparently inspired by the setting and performed a cover of Alice In Chains’s classic “Nutshell” in his show in Seattle.  Because “Nutshell” is one of the greatest songs of the last 20 years, you bet we’re going to pass a long a video like this.

Catching Up On The Week (May 9 Edition)

A lot of quick-hitters, a cool graph, and a lot of talk about an anniversary this week for your #longreads weekend.

We’ve mentioned before that this year marks the 20th anniversary for several big albums, like SuperunknownThe Downward Spiral, Dookie, and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.  This week, Weezer, aka “The Blue Album” gets its moment in the sun.  Grantland has a roundtable feature if you’re interested in a lot of half-baked memories and not-particularly-insightful analysis, and Stereogum has a more nuanced look back at the seminal album, as they’ve done several times already this year.  Of course, this leads to thinking about “how the hell did Weezer become so shitty?”, though as Film Crit Hulk observes, it’s not that surprising an answer (yes, it’s the firing of Matt Sharp).

We did a feature on them already this week mentioning their new album, so it’s no surprise that The Black Keys announced a huge new tour today.  Using the video posted above however, may have been a surprise.  We’ll be posting a review in the near future, but if you’re feeling a little antsy, Grantland has an early review.  In general, I agree with several of the points about the recent direction of the band, but I am still flummoxed by the mention of “Little Black Submarines” in the section about minimalist guitars–this is after all a song with a good “Stairway to Heaven” 30-second solo rip-off that serves as the climax of the song.

AVClub has several pieces worth checking out this weekend.  There is an extended look at the making of the Alice in Chains EP Jar of Flies, which features several of the band’s best songs (including my personal favorite, “Nutshell”).  They also have a quick plea to get people to listen to Big Star’s “O My Soul”–Erik Adams points out the nifty use of palm-muted non-chords, but to me the most brilliant part of the song was simply the way the drums were recorded; I don’t think I have ever heard a snare pop better than on that track, and on Radio City in general.  Also, be sure to read about how one band was able to trick Spotify and then check out this absolutely brilliant headline.

We previously did a bit on music infographics, and another one popped up this week that you might have seen tweeted out or on your friend’s Facebook page.  This one takes a look at the diversity of the vocabulary of a number of rappers and presents it in chart form, with Shakespeare and Moby Dick as points of reference.  It wasn’t surprising to see the various members of the Wu-Tang Clan (and the group itself) ranking so highly, or 50 Cent ranked so low, but I thought for example that Kanye would appear higher on the list.  The Fader interviewed the creator of the chart and gets some insight into its creation.

We haven’t had much of a chance to talk about Father John Misty, but his debut Fear Fun was one of our favorites from 2012, and we’re eager to hear the follow-up when it’s released.  Pitchfork did a quick interview with him to give us an idea of what he’s up to these days.

Finally, we linked to the very first Drum Fill Friday from NPR, but we neglected to do any followups.  Well, it’s a continuing series and lately they’ve stepped up the challenge a bit by bringing in the choices of some guest drummers.  We’ll give the spotlight to Michael Lerner, the drummer from The Antlers, and link to his selections (for the record, I got 4/5).  It’s definitely worth keeping up with every week.

Over the Weekend (Apr. 7 Edition)

This is a Monday that should be especially easy to handle, because there are a ton of new videos to watch and aid in your quest to find the best ways to procrastinate.

It wasn’t a bad weekend to stay at home, because Nine Inch Nails made a rare television appearance in performing for the legendary Austin City Limits.  SPIN has the video of the almost hour-long performance, but I’m not sure how long it will be up, so better watch this one as soon as you can.

Continuing a week full of Nirvana tributes, here’s a roundup of a few from various artists from this past weekend, including covers from St. Vincent and Muse.  Lost in the (understandable) fuss over Nirvana, is the fact that this weekend marked another terrible anniversary, that of the death of Layne Staley.  The Everybody Loves Our Town Tumblr has a link to his last performance with Alice in Chains.  And here is another strange way in which the stories have been combined, thanks to the use of Photoshop.

Lots of news for fans of Jack White (which includes us, of course), as he announced the upcoming release of his solo follow-up to Blunderbuss, with Lazaretto scheduled to hit stores on June 10.  In addition, he’s announced a string of tour dates and released the “liquidy” video of the instrumental track “High Ball Stepper” (embedded above), a great please of ragged blues-rock.

Speaking of Jack White, Weezer stopped by the headquarters of Jack’s Third Man Records to record an acoustic version of fan-favorite “Susanne”.  Hey, remember when Weezer not only wasn’t awful, but actually pretty great?  That song is from that era, and along with “Jamie” is the reason why I bought the expensive Deluxe Edition reissue of the Blue Album.

J Mascis always seems to be having something going on, from his work in his main band Dinosaur Jr. to his solo work to even his acting (he’s been a guest on Portlandia and will be in the upcoming film The Doublehere’s a clip of Richard Ayoade talking about casting J).  J also has a side project with Sweet Apple, and you can find the debut video “Wish You Could Stay” (with guest vocals from the great Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age, and more)), as well as a stream of the entire album, The Golden Age of Glitter, on Stereogum.  The single is a pleasant, shimmery piece of guitar pop, so please click if that description intrigues you.

Coldplay has released a music video for their latest single, “Magic”, and it’s rather good.  It’s made in the style of a silent film (with Coldplay being the backing music, of course), and involves a storyline with Zhang Ziyi and, well, magicians.  It’s nice to have some visual flair to a song that’s going to be pretty omnipresent on radio for a few months.

And because we publish this pretty late in the day, this allows us to catch some news just as its breaking–like the fact that The Roots are releasing a new album next month.  …And Then They Shoot Your Cousin will be out May 13, and Pitchfork has the first single “The People Cheer”.