New videos, new music, and news to help tide you over as you wait for the NBA playoffs to begin…
For weeks, TV on the Radio has been teasing the release of their latest single off their brilliant album Seeds by posting photos with the hashtag “#herecomestrouble”, and last week finally shared the video for “Trouble”. Much like the song, it has a somber tone, but there is a redemptive undercurrent that ultimately makes it uplifting.
Janelle Monáe surprised her fans this morning by releasing a new song and accompanying video, a fun romp entitled “Yoga” off an upcoming compilation EP called Wonderland Presents THE EEPHUS. The video does indeed feature some “yoga”, though the focus is not necessarily on fitness or inner peace, but as a precursor to a wild party.
Another highly-anticipated release that is now available for streaming is the newest effort from Speedy Ortiz, with Foil Deer up on the NPR website. We loved their debut album, Major Arcana, and had a lot of fun when they performed at Project Pabst, so we cannot wait to get our hands on the record when it is released next week.
Kicking off the week with some videos and various other fun ephemera…
Janelle Monáe released the music video for the title track of last year’s brilliant release, The Electric Lady. Pitchfork gives a rundown of the various cameos in the video, as well as some notes about how both Michelle and Barack Obama are big fans of Janelle. I personally would love to see the “dancing” video that is apparently in Janelle’s possession.
Even with our expanded Best-Of list courtesy of The Process, there were still a ton of great albums released last year that were worthy of recognition. Since we here at Rust Is Just Right are big believers in spreading all good music, we’re going to put a spotlight on some other great records that you may have overlooked from the past year.
EELS – Wonderful, Glorious. It had begun to seem as if Eels were stuck in a rut, with a trio of dour albums (Hombre Lobo, End Times, Tomorrow Morning) that were difficult for even a superfan like me to listen to on an regular basis. But E switched up the formula a bit and even sounds “happy” with this album. And the live show for the tour for this album was quite great as well, a kind of variety-show getup with everyone dressed in monochrome tracksuits and sporting the same facial hair.
No Age – An Object. No Age have always been a band that’s difficult to appreciate on first listen, but even fans of their abrasive sound (whether it be riotous punk rock or feedback-drenched ambient) weren’t sure how to respond to An Object. In many ways it was built more like an art project than just “the next album from No Age”, and surprisingly it often worked.
Phosphorescent – Muchacho. This country-tinged indie folk album is a real treat to listen to on a relaxing, sunny day, but would still be worth it if it only included the reworking of “Wicked Game” that we didn’t know we needed in 2013 with “The Quotidian Beasts”.
Red Fang – Whales and Leeches. I always love hearing my favorite hometown metal band, so it was surprising that they didn’t manage to make it onto the official list. Such is the mysterious ways of The Process. It seems that touring with Mastodon rubbed off on them a bit, as one could definitely hear their influence on the album (my initial comparison was “Mastodon on amphetamines”, and I think that it still fits). And good news, Red Fang is still making great music videos.
David Bowie – The Next Day. Can we just pause a minute and recognize how awesome it is that it’s 2014 and David Bowie can just surprise the world with a damn good album 45 years into his career? The album isn’t perfect, but there are some songs that would fit comfortably aside the old classics on a Greatest Hits.
Los Campesinos! – No Blues. I keep telling everyone to go to one of their shows because it’ll probably be the most fun you’ll have all year, and I’ll continue to do so. No Blues sees the band continuing with the mature sound from Hello, Sadness but with a slightly more positive outlook.
Janelle Monáe – The ElectricLady. It’s hard to keep track of the narrative about robots and revolution, but the music is fantastic. Seeing her perform with OutKast was one of the highlights of Coachella.
The Knife – Shaking the Habitual. I hadn’t understood the love that some people had for this band until I heard this album. It’s bizarre, but I like it.
Death Grips – Government Plates. Who knew we hadn’t heard the last from Death Grips? My favorite part is that when I downloaded the album, it was automatically tagged as “Rock & Roll”. If you are unfamiliar with their music, well…
Also Worthy of Praise
Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana; Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt; Ghostface Killah – Twelve Reasons to Die; Moonface – Julia With Blue Jeans On; Tim Hecker – Virgins; Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You; Washed Out – Paracosm.
All Albums That Were Considered
Here’s a list of the albums that I listened to last year, in full. Most of these were quite good and worthy of repeated listens, but they just couldn’t crack the previous lists. And I’m not going to do something like say the new albums from The Strokes or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were complete garbage, because that wouldn’t be nice.
Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest; Daft Punk – Random Access Memories; Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze; The Strokes – Comedown Machine; Surfer Blood – Pythons; Atoms for Peace – Amok; Ducktails – The Flower Lane;Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast; British Sea Power – Machineries of Joy; The Dismemberment Plan – Uncanney Valley; M.I.A. – Matangi; Palms – Palms; Phoenix – Bankrupt!; Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts; Deerhunter – Monomania; Jake Bugg – Shangri-La; Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God; MGMT – MGMT; Mudhoney – Vanishing Point; Yo la Tengo – Fade; Beach Fossils – Clash the Truth; Fitz & The Tantrums – More Than Just a Dream; Alice in Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here; The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual; Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving; Darkside – Psychic; The Dear Hunter – Migrant; Dr. Dog – B-Room; How to Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion; Kavinsky – OutRun; Major Lazer – Free the Universe; Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar; Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven; Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love; Talib Kweli – Prisoner of Conscious; Tyler, the Creator – Wolf; Typhoon – White Lighter; Baths – Obsidian.
A few quick links you may have missed this week and worthy of your time this weekend
I am of the generation that grew up in the wake of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea—not in the era from when the album was first released, but in the ensuing years where it became totem of alternative/indie rock culture. Like many, I became obsessed with the album and the story of Jeff Mangum, the reclusive genius who became the J.D. Salinger of rock. I was ecstatic when Jeff Mangum returned to the stage, and witnessed two amazing performances in Portland and Eugene (I remarked at the time that only Jeff Mangum could get a Portland crowd to scream “I love you, Jesus Christ!”). But even there was something that was missing from those performances, and that was the rickety junkyard orchestra quality of the album itself, provided by a full backing band. “Holland, 1945” will always be one of the greatest songs ever written, regardless of how it’s performed, but it loses something without those horns and that fuzz bass and those barely-restrained chaotic drums. So even though I had the good fortune to see those previous two performances, I still jumped at the opportunity to see Neutral Milk Hotel as a whole for the reunion tour.
There are those that express some reservations to this. Steven Hyden of Grantland wrote about his reaction to the return of Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel, and he took a much more pessimistic stance. I do agree to some extent the cult-like devotion of some fans is a turn-off (while I have listened to the album over a hundred times, I haven’t memorized the entire lyric sheet as it seems most audiences have), but I wouldn’t go so far as to say as a result that I like the album “less”. And personally I think it’s unfair to call out any band for their possible motivations for reuniting, even if it’s to say that you don’t care that their intentions may be less than noble. I can see points being made about post-boomer generations now realizing how much fun it can be to indulge in nostalgia, this overlooks the fact that there were younger generations who never got a chance to experience things firsthand, so why piss on their opportunity to do so? I didn’t get a chance to see Dinosaur Jr. the first time around, but I’m sure as shit enjoying their late-period renaissance; Pavement was before my time, but seeing their reunion in Central Park was one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever seen.
Here’s an interesting article that details how useless it can be to talk about a musician’s social media presence. The number of followers and likes are generally useless figures, and discussion of those immaterial numbers take away from any discussion of the music itself. However, there’s a twist in this story of how exactly an artist gained all those Twitter followers.
One of my favorite weekends of the year is NBA All-Star Weekend, and this year will be especially great because I’ll be cheering for two Blazers. Kudos to LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, the latter of whom will be the first player to participate in five events during the weekend. What does this news have to do with music? Just the fact that they’ve got an outstanding musical lineup for the weekend, with Kendrick Lamar performing before the Dunk Contest, Pharrell in the pre-game ceremony, and Janelle Monáe performing with Trombone Shorty, Dr. John, and Earth, Wind & Fire at half-time. That’s probably the best lineup that I remember for the event, if only for the fact that Phillip Phillips is not involved.