Search This Blog

Monday, June 20, 2011

Song to Add to Your Summer Playlist...."Swimsuits" by The Cool Kids ft. Mayer Hawthorne

I was really into the debut LP from The Cool Kids, Bake Sale, back in 2008.  Then they signed with a bigger label and had some issues, got out of that and are back with a smaller one. (My Morning Jacket would call that "circuital") So now they are finally releasing their followup When Fish Ride Bicycles on July 12. Tomorrow you can wrap your ear buds around their latest single "Swimsuits" on iTunes. The Cool Kids have a retro 90's style of hip hop and adding the smooth crooning of  Mayer Hawthorne to the mix for the hook? Brings to mind a scene straight out of a Fresh Prince music video from back in the day driving to the beach with your new shades on, windows down, bobbin your head with your crew in the car, and eyeing the ladies. DJ Jazzy Jeff and flat top optional.

You can check it out on Pitchfork's site here The Cool Kids - Swimsuits (ft. Mayer Hawthorne)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TV On The Radio - Nine Types of Light

Looks like 1 type of light to me....
I suppose this is kind of a late review since Nine Types of Light came out just over 2 months ago but I didn't have a blog then so whatever. I just saw their new video for "You" and figured why not. It is a pretty funny clip from their movie with the same title as the album and features the members a year after the band had broken up. They reunite in a diner and discuss what each has gotten into since splitting. Nice to see a an appearance by Gerard Smith, their former bass player that recently passed away from lung cancer. When you're not watching the awkward moments around the table you get to see lead singer Tunde Adebimpe in his new career as an impersonator of a certain pop icon. Classic. Hopefully, the video is not a sign of things to come and this band will be around for a long time. You can scope it out by clicking TVOTR - "You"

So I streamed Nine Types of Light online for a couple weeks prior to it's release and bought a copy on Record Store Day. May not have been the best idea since I purchased a few records that day and subsequently took me a little longer to pay it the deserved amount of attention. My initial thoughts from the stream were it was a solid album and more "baby making music" than you typically get in a TVOTR album and it got lost in the shuffle.

A week after my purchase I had maybe listened to the record once all the way through (besides the streaming). Then I noticed the David Letterman episode with TVOTR as the musical guest I had apparently forgotten I recorded the week before. Now, I had liked "Will Do" prior to this but something happened when I watched their performance of the lead single and everything changed. I had this immediate desire to go back and listen to Light again. I can't really explain it but from that point on the album has been one of my favorites so far in 2011.

                                                If you watch all the way to the end, even Dave was impressed

Now I have read/heard some grumblings about how this isn't like a normal TVOTR album and it's missing their edge. I completely disagree.  It might take a few times but this is TVOTR but in a slightly different frame of mind. Maybe it's not as rocking as previous albums such as 2008's Dear Science which topped many year-end lists, including my own.
**Sidenote - Why does every album an artist puts out have to be compared to previous albums? This only really makes sense for bands with a generic sound and have songs that all sound the same. We praise bands like TVOTR for their artistic creativity but when they release something a little different than what we might be used to from them and we condemn them. Sidenote Finished**
There was mention between albums they wanted to do more love songs which is apparent in songs like "Will Do," "You," and "Keep Your Heart." However, you can't help but move to the grooves of "Second Song," "Caffeinated Consciousness," and "Repetition."

Lights may be a little more mellow for TVOTR but at least they did it with a sense of groovetastic beauty that only they can pull from the depths of Kyp Malone's beard.  2011 is shaping up as the year for beautiful music.  It may take a few listens to appreciate this record for all of its finer points but they are there and my hat's off to them for veering off the beaten path and showing us Nine Types of Light.

R.I.P. Gerard Smith

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Local Band Review: Black Books - An Introduction To...

Better than the cover, the green transparent vinyl it comes on.
As I was scoping out concerts to hit up once I made my move from Cleveland to Austin this year I came across the Austonian band Black Books.  When I heard their psychedelic lo-fi track "The Big Idea" I was sold instantly.  This is also the opening track to An Introduction To... the band's debut 4 song EP that was released earlier this year.   

The following song, "Maria," opens with keyboards reminiscent of Beach House before lead singer (and drummer) Ross Gillflan asks "Who brings the flowers to you? No one for Maria. Who breaks their heart for you? No one but Maria."   The song is a rockin' dream-like experience about a woman giving a copious amount of love but not getting any in return.

Fans of My Morning Jacket's earlier work should connect with the closer "Silver Lining."  The summery cicada-ish opening backdrop and alt-country-rock vibe of this song brings to mind the times of Tennessee Fire and At Dawn.  At least wait until the chorus that kicks in prior to the 3 minute mark before disagreeing.

Black Books are currently working on their debut full-length LP due late 2011.  In the meantime you can head over to their site Black Books Music and please your auditory nerves by listening to An Introduction To...  You can also purchase a digital download or a very limited edition of their debut EP on clear green vinyl.  Makes a very nice addition to any vinyl collection and each is individually numbered out of the mere 300 made.  It's a win-win!  You support an upcoming band and if (when) they get big someday it will be a nice collector's item.

Black Books are most definitely a band to watch out for and not only in the Austin music scene. If you like what you hear buy a copy and tell your friends.  We all need to support smaller upcoming bands that make solid tuneage and have a passion for what they do.

Below is the band playing the 3rd song on their EP "Green Screen"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Prevaluation: Bon Iver - Bon Iver

I thought the cover was beautiful too, until I heard the music.

Falsetto crooning Justin Vernon fresh off his collaboration with Kanye and side project GAYNGS takes Bon Iver on a huge leap forward on their sophomore effort.  This is tough to do in the music world, especially with a critically acclaimed debut such as 2008's For Emma, Forever Ago.  He made a conscious effort to change up the sound of his voice and the band and it works.  The self-titled album, Bon Iver is every bit as gorgeous as For Emma and then some.  From the 1st notes of album opener "Perth" you can tell there is something special about this album.

Album closer Beth/Rest starts off synth-heavy like an early 90's family sitcom theme song.  It sounded eerily similar to the Doogie Houser theme.  Bon Iver may not be about a teenage prodigy performing surgery while going through puberty but it might not be far off.  While there are no teens, we are listening to a band grow and evolve right before us while doing things to our auditory senses with the precision of a seasoned surgeon.

Vernon brought some of the brass over with him from GAYNGS and apparently has a growing fondness for auto-tune.  The latter is at it's finest near the end of "Calgary" for about 6 lines along with more intense guitars before soothing back and telling us "Sold, I'm Ever. Open ears and open eyes."  Us too, Justin.

Below you can check out the lead sing "Calgary"

My Morning Jacket - Circuital: An Album You Won't Wanna Get Out of Your System

The Green Eye of Black Metal?
Why not do my 1st music post reviewing the latest album of my favorite band?  I have a great deal of bias here but I don't really care.  Besides won't any post I ever write be with a very high level of bias since I am telling you what I think about something? Yeah, we're gonna get deep.  

By the way, as easy as I thought it would be to review this album it took me 2-3 days.  Maybe I tried too hard (that’s me downplaying this because I’m not overly happy with it but I’ll get better as time goes on.  I haven’t done any sort of writing like this in years so cut me some slack!)

Oh and I'm not going to talk about "Holdin' on to Black Metal."  It's a solid tune but you can only read so many people praising it in every review you read.  

I will mention "Victory Dance" though.  It’s the perfect song to kick off their 6th studio album and odds-on live show opener for years to come.  The song seemingly picks up where 2008’s Evil Urges left off and sets the table for the album like the reincarnated sound of "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt.2" that ended Urges.  It has this chill yet funky yet soothing sort of futuristicness to it.  Every review has to have a part in it where you go crazy with adjectives, right? Glad I got mine out of the way.  Anyway, it also opens the door to the depth of the album in Jim James’ lyrics when he asks "Should I lift the dirt and plant the seed even though I've never grown?" 

Most expected an album similar to 2005's Z when Evil Urges was released and were subsequently disappointed as this wasn't the case.  Urges has some great pieces but those pieces don’t exactly fit together to form any sort of clear picture.  After listening to Circuital quite a few times now I almost think of Evil Urges as a longer-than-normal EP.  There are definitely some elements of MMJ present with some experimentation based on their long-time love of classic R&B and funk.  This band continues to grow and get more comfortable in their music and abilities.  Just wait until they delve into their polka influence!

(I am aware that there is no transition from polka in the next line so relax)

"Out of My System" is as intriguing as it is oddly located on the album.  It follows their classic live song but 1st time studio gem, "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)."  Then again, where wouldn’t it be oddly located I suppose?  In “System,” James lets loose a comical homage to the memories of a car thief as he (or she) looks back on his (or her) days of smoking pot and causing upset phone calls to car insurance agents.  He freakin' starts the song by rhyming the first four lines with "listen," "prison," "dissin," and "system!" 

I touched on the album opener, so how about the closer you ask?  Glad you did.  "Moving Away" is a fantastic song.  It’s an instant classic in the genre of mellow My Morning Jacket awesomeness.  It’s my blog and I am giving them said genre.  It literally brings this finality to the album as if it's the song you’ll hear as you close your eyes for the final time.

Speaking of bringing a finality to something….

I will say that I am confident my decision to start buying vinyl a few months back was to prepare me for this album.  Now hang on and stop judging me music fan, I'm still new to vinyl so don't kill me over classics and claim that I am blasphemizing.  I assume everybody that does vinyl has that one record that really blew them away before any others.  Anyway….I listened to this album a few times via my computer prior to May 31 but not until I got the record, hit the power button, and moved the needle did I really HEAR Circuital.  In my opinion My Morning Jacket naturally sounds better over vinyl anyway but Circuital has so much depth to it.  The 1st time I listened to the record with headphones I could literally see the layers in the music.  The influences on each song from their previous albums were as clear as ever.  Circuital is a complete album that brought me back and reminded me why this is the best band out there right now.  It was a true circuital moment. 

Scope "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)" live from their epic Unstaged event from 5/31 below

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why Does My Music Opinion Matter?

It doesn't but I'm going to share it anyway.  So many bands are making amazing music that most of us will never hear and it's a shame.  I love music, I love finding new music and I love talking about music.  That is the purpose of this.  

A little background on me: (if you don't care just skip down past the 1st sentence of the 2nd to last paragraph).  I don't currently play an instrument but I did play trombone for 2 years in middle school.  I tried bass guitar a couple times but didn't have the patience.  Since my parents listened to oldies when I was younger that's what I listened to.  This early influence is visible in many bands I listen to now with "throwback" sounds.

Growing up in Southwest Missouri I didn't have many radio options once I was able to listen to what I wanted.  It was typical of most smaller cities prior to the current Social Networking age.  I was in a small musical box and there was conceivably nothing on the outside.  I didn't even know Pearl Jam was still a band, post Vitalogy, until I moved to Cleveland and lived with 2 friends that would gladly go 1980's Schwarzenegger-the-family-comedian and carry Eddie Vedder's love-child.

Some friends in Cleveland really opened my eyes to the music world I was missing and my love evolved over my 5+ years there.  I recently moved to Austin in part because of this passion and to be in the mecca for up and coming artist discovery.  Great city with an insane amount of amazing live shows.  I will do the occasional concert review on here along with my general discussions about bands/albums.

This is also my disclaimer so everyone that reads my thoughts knows that I am relatively new to all of this and haven't been tracking new bands with such fervor until recently. We may not agree on comparisons but that's cool, we all hear things and interpret them in our own way.  I encourage comments/comparisons.

Note: this entry will eventually end up in the "About Me" section but I figured some background would be a good start.