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.
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.
Some news, new music, and new videos as you get over your post-SXSW hangover…
Modest Mouse stopped by CBS News on Saturday morning to perform songs from their latest album Strangers to Ourselves, with frontman Isaac Brock also sitting down for a quick interview to go over what happened in the time since the release of We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Though many sites have posted videos of a couple of the songs they performed, the band’s Facebook post has links to all three performance videos and the interview. The band also released the official video for the single “Lampshades on Fire”, featuring a lot of jump-cuts and one crazy party.
Though “Lampshades” was the first single released from the album, it strangely is the second video, as the video for the ballad “Coyotes” was previously released.
Blur shared another track from their upcoming Magic Whip, and “Lonesome Street” should please fans with fond memories of the band’s Parklife era. Of course, Blur’s albums are fairly diverse affairs, and the singles released by the band so far proves that Magic Whip will be no different in this regard.
Built To Spill has released another song from Untethered Moon, the sweet and poppy “Never Be The Same”; it is available instantly along with the previously released jam “Living Zoo” when you pre-order the album now, which is available on vinyl for Record Store Day this year and on disc on April 21st.
Holy shit guys, we’re actually going to get a new Blur record! Damon Albarn has apparently found some time in between his three hundred musical projects to record an album with his old mates, as The Magic Whip will be released here in the States on April 28. As an appetizer, here’s the bizarre lyric video for the weird new song “Go Out”.
Normally, we would have this new video occupy our lead spot–after all, it includes not only a song from one of the best albums of the year so far, but also features some of our favorite television characters as well. However, it’s not everyday that Blur announces a new album, so the Bob’s Burgers-themed video for Sleater-Kinney’s “A New Wave” gets the second slot, but it should make you happy nonetheless.
NPR has a couple of new albums streaming on their site that are worth sharing: first, Swervedriver returns for their first record in nearly twenty years with I Wasn’t Born To Lose You, and then there’s Of Montreal offering up Aureate Gloom for your pleasure.
Father John Misty stopped by The Strombo Show, and during that appearance he covered the Leonard Cohen classic “Bird on the Wire”. It’s a bit jarring at first to hear the song without Cohen’s trademark baritone, but Joshua Tillman still makes a fine version.
Death Cab For Cutie have shared another new track from Kintsugi, which will be out by the end of March, called “No Room in Frame”.
Vox takes a look at Eric Malmi’s attempt to determine the Best Rapper Alive by looking at the use of assonant rhyme. As with most data-intensive looks at creative endeavors, take it with a grain of salt.
The Sundance Film Festival is in full swing right now, and one of the films garnering the most buzz right now is the documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, and Esquire provides a rundown of some of the things that they’ve learned.
Interpol released the video for their latest single “Everything Is Wrong”, which provides an amusing look at the way the band possibly spends their day in preparation for an evening show. I’m just happy that they’ve chosen one of the best tracks from El Pintor as their next single.
And finally, Death Cab For Cutie has released the first single off the upcoming album Kintsugi, and it’s called “Black Sun”. It’s an interesting new direction for the band, though initial fan opinion seems to split.
We left a ton of material on the table for today’s post, and with the flurry of news this morning our roundup is even more overstuffed than usual. So let’s dive right in with the surprise release of the music video for the Beastie Boys track “Too Many Rappers”, featuring Nas in both audio and visual form. While it’s sad to remember that Hot Sauce Committee Part Two will be the last album we ever hear from the Beasties, but it’s certainly great to have some more footage of the crew having fun together.
NPR has streams for two highly-anticipated new albums available this week. First, there’s the long-awaited return of critical darlings and Pacific Northwest favorites Sleater-Kinney, who are releasing their first album in ten years next week with No Cities to Love. Then there’s the self-titled debut of Viet Cong, who have garnered a ridiculous amount of buzz among various indie blogs in the past couple of months. I don’t yet have the same enthusiasm, though it may take a few more listens of their noisy guitar rock to convince me.
Ghostface Killah seemingly never stops working, because after releasing his solo album 36 Seasons last month (and appearing on The Wu-Tang Clan’s A Better Tomorrow), he’s set to release another album next month. This time it’s a collaboration with BADBADNOTGOOD, with their record Sour Soul set to be released February 17. Their latest track, “Ray Gun”, features a guest spot from DOOM and has a nice grimy funk feel, complemented by some gorgeous strings. Stereogum has more information, including links to previously released tracks, for your perusal.
It’s disappointing that a once-vibrant genre as Country has become just a bunch of homogenized pablum, and worse yet is the fact that every year it continues to get worse. The genre has just become Nickelback with a half-assed over-enunciated Southern accent, and that’s a damn shame. The thing is, consumers are at least partly to blame, since as The Atlantic points out, uniformity is what sells.
Last week featured some great musical guests on the Late Night shows, including performances from such RIJR favorites The War On Drugs (who performed the epic “An Ocean In Between The Waves” on The Tonight Show) and Parquet Courts delivering a dynamite version of “Bodies Made of” on Letterman, a song that initially sounds like a poor choice for the national stage until it gets to its epic breakdown. But the standout of the week was Foxygen and Star Power performing “How Can You Really” on The Late Show, which prompted an enthusiastic response from Dave himself.
And finally, a couple of fun lists that can either be used as a discovery tool or merely as argument fodder. Stereogum has a list of “30 Essential Post-Rock” songs which along with usual suspects Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Rós, and Explosions in the Sky includes several other bands that may not be as well known, though this may partially be due to a broad definition of “post-rock”. You can have an argument about that specific topic as well as the following list from Complex, which goes through each year since 1979 to anoint “The Best Rapper Alive”.
It’s time once again for another list, but this time we have one that’s a bit more season-appropriate. Rust Is Just Right is ready to present to you the somewhat-definitive list of the “10 Best Songs That Use Sleigh Bells” that are in no way affiliated with Christmas.
9. Grizzly Bear – “Ready, Able”. A lot of people love this single off the excellent album Veckatimest, but it always felt a little incomplete for me. But Grizzly Bear gets this spot because they often use a lot of unique percussion to great effect and should get credit for that effort, and I am at least certain that sleigh bells make an appearance (even if it’s a faint one) in this particular song.
7. The Replacements – “Kiss Me On The Bus”. One of the highlights of the classic album Tim, you can hear the sleigh bells make their appearance on the final chorus, providing an intriguing color to the music.
5. The Walkmen – “Nightingales”. The Walkmen were definitely not strangers to the allure of the sleigh bells, sprinkling their sound throughout their career, most notably on multiple songs from the beloved Bows + Arrows. But we’re going to give the honor to this lovely track from their swan song Heaven, since it includes moments where the sleigh bells are given their time to shine.
4. The Hives – “Walk Idiot Walk”. What should a band do as a follow-up for their huge break into the American charts? If you’re The Hives, you write a single that uses the sleigh bells to keep time in the chorus for no particular reason. If anything, it at least gives some insight to the casual listener that The Hives are willing to look outside the box of traditional garage rock sounds. It’s too bad that Tyrannosaurus Hives has been neglected over the years, since it’s a fantastic album.
3. The Beach Boys – “God Only Knows”. When you fill out your sound with a hundred-piece orchestra, you’re bound to have someone playing sleigh bells for some songs. We’re going to go with one of the most beautiful songs in the deep catalog of the Beach Boys with this one.
2. Radiohead – “Airbag”. Radiohead kicks off one of the defining albums of the 90’s with the sound of sleigh bells over sliced-up drum tracks, adding a touch of humanity to an opus about the haunting alienation of technology. In a song about being miraculously saved from a car wreck, are we to assume that Santa was the savior?
1. The Stooges – “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
I don’t think there’s any argument here with this choice for the top spot. Once you notice that insistent sleigh bells part chugging along with the rest of those buzzsaw guitars and ramshackle drums, it’s hard to get out of your head, and it adds a strange psychedelic element to the entire enterprise.
So there you have it–the greatest non-traditional Christmas song is “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. Be sure to include it in your setlist tonight when you’re out caroling!
That wasn’t the only memorable performance from Letterman last week, as Interpol did such a great job with “All The Rage Back Home” that it prompted Letterman to continually ask if he could join the band.
There’s a Deafheaven side-project that is definitely worth checking out, if the first single is any indication. Creepers features Dan Tracy, whose drumwork on Sunbather helped make that album one of the best of 2013 as well as touring guitarist Shiv Mehra, and they have an album coming out October 28. “Stuck” reminds me a bit of the Nothing album that came out earlier this year, so if it was the shouting vocals of Deafheaven that turned you off that band, that’s definitely should not be an issue with this release.
The Wall Street Journal has an inside look at the collaboration between director David Fincher and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, providing fascinating insights into the nuts-and-bolts of their unique method of scoring films. Considering how great their previous collaborations have been (The Social Network and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo are two of the only film scores I listen to with any regularity), you should be eager to hear their work on the upcoming Gone Girl.