Music Review

Video of the Week: QOTSA - "Smooth Sailing"

Josh Homme and his QOTSA posse get some freak on in this cool ass video for "Smooth Sailing" directed by Hiro Murai (Childish Gambino, St. Vincent). Lots of drunken shenanigans with plenty of GoPro and POV camera angles and a relentless rock groove make this one crazy, Tarantino-like cinematic music experience.

Music to Thaw the Deep Freeze of 2014

It was a brutal Winter (of our discontent), but it's finally Spring and there's plenty of new music to thaw even the most solid block of plowed snow. Here are ten of my favorite new rock/pop/dance/funk/folk tunes. Let us begin with this tremendous track (and album) from one of my favorite folk-rock singer/songwriters, the former New Yorker and now L.A.-based David Poe. Here he shares his muse on his debut single "When I Fly" from his soon-to-be-released long player When I Fly. Check him out on tour, too. Read more »

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear

SWR Vocal Ensemble of Stuttgart/Marcus Creed: 

America 
(Hänssler Classics)

Perhaps it takes foreigners to put together a program of Aaron Copland's Four Motets, Steve Reich's Proverb, John Cage's "Five," Morton Feldman's The Rothko Chapel, Leonard Bernstein's Missa Brevis, and Samuel Barber's "A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map." Whatever this 77-minute disc lacks in stylistic coherence, though, it makes up for as a cross-section of 20th century American choral music. 

The a cappella Copland pieces date from his study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, before he'd created his trademark style; their lush harmonies are surprising from him, but quite beautiful and oddly anticipatory of recent choral trends (think Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen). The Reich, however, is prototypically Reichian in its gently propulsive Minimalism (influenced by Medieval organum), complete with accompaniment on vibraphones and synthesizers. Read more »

Song of the Day - Chrissie Hynde - Dark Glasses

Fellow Akronite Chrissie Hynde steps out from her fellow Pretenders on her brand new single from her forthcoming album, Stockholm (Caroline) due on June 9th. Grab it today!

Song of the Week: The War on Drugs - "Red Eye"

From this Philly-based quartet's third long player, Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian), their best, and despite a rather pedestrian video, "Red Eyes" is one fine indie rock tune. The galloping guitar break is just sublime. Get it today!

Weather This Storm - Dusty Wright

Song of the Week: Judith Owen - "I've Never Been To Texas"

Singer/songwriter/pianist Judith Owen proudly wears her troubadour influences -- Carole King, Laura Nyro, Joni -- on her sleeve. Hey, being informed by such grand company only works when you can deliver. And deliver she does on her latest solo effort Ebb & Flow. She even enlisted one of the best LA backing bands ever -- bassist Leland Sklar, drummer Russ Kunkel, and guitarist Waddy Wachtel. "I've Never Been To Texas" is one of my favorite songs from her soon-to-be-released, delightful soft rock album. She's currently on tour with Mr. Sklar. Don't miss her!

Song of the Week: I Am Snow Angel - "Great White December"

Yes, more snow is expected these next few month, but this percolating, hypnotic synth-pop tune (think New Order) from I Am Snow Angel (producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Julie Kathryn) should keep most cold-weather bound folks de-iced.

Video of the Week: Morrissey - "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful"

Hard to believe that Morrissey seminal third solo album, Your Arsenal, was released in 1992. Produced by Bowies's Spider from Mars guitarist and arranger Mick Ronson, it was a massive success in the US. The "definitive master" of that album is released today by Rhino Entertainment on premium vinyl, CD, and digital download. The CD includes a previously unreleased live DVD concert from October 31st, 1991 from the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA.

Song of the Week: Walter Martin - "Sing To Me"

Walter Martin has been woodshedding as the multi-instrumentalist in The Walkmen, but has finally decided to step out solo. One can't help but catch the Nancy (Sinatra) & Lee (Hazlewood) vibe, especially since Karen O. (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) lends her sweet, sweet yodels. My favorite song of this new year, so far. We're All Young Together CD drops on May 13th.

Song of the Week: Side Saddle - "Don't Wait For Him"

Some songs beg for the repeat button and so it is with this infectious folk-pop nugget from Side Saddle AKA Ian McGuiness, the pop maestro from Astoria, Queens, NY. Download this track for free on SoundCloud until his The Postcard EP drops on March 25th.

Making A Happy Noise: Al Jardine & Friends

For about ninety minutes on Friday evening, February 7th, the auditorium at the Rubin Museum of Art was filled with the sound of music. The occasion was a fundraiser for the David Lynch Foundation, which brings the principles of transcendental meditation (TM) to school children and adults, as a way of dealing with stress, and with a larger message of peace. Read more »

Seconds Before Landing

Seconds Before Landing: The Great Deception (SBL)

First, let me say that, setting aside a quibble or two, this is almost certainly my favorite album of 2013. And that has less to do with any specific personnel, "song," or individual aspect of the album than it does with the fact that the old adage "they just don't write 'em like that anymore" does not apply here. This is a "progressive" album in every sense of that term, and is somehow able to both evoke the heyday of a particular genre of progressive rock (i.e., have a certain "timeless" quality to it) and to be both timely and relevant in the present.

The primary writer here is John Crispino, about whom little seems to be known except that he is a "composer and musician." (He plays drums, keyboards, and percussion, and provides most of the vocals.) He is joined by a distinguished group of musicians, most notably Trey Gunn (King Crimson) and Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus). Read more »

Song of the Weekend: Galactic - "Dolla Diva"

Galactic bring the funk with plenty of NOLA flavor on their latest single "Dolla Diva" with some righteous vocal help from David Shaw and Maggie Koerner. Currently on tour.

15-60-75: Jimmy Bell's Still in Town

15-60-75 (Numbers Band)
Jimmy Bell's Still in Town
(Exit Stencil)

Haven't heard of this oddly named band? You're probably not from Ohio, and you're definitely not from Kent. Formed there in 1969 by lead vocalist Robert Kidney and saxophonist Terry Hynde (brother of Pretenders vocalist Chrissie), it created a strange and compelling amalgam of styles. Kidney doesn't sing so much as chant, or emphatically recite. There are not really any melodies, and the horn section, so often in other bands a sweetener, only adds acrid commentary. There's an obvious blues influence, but this is not tidy 12-bar blues, it's a primal drone that pulsates with dark energy, not least because of drummer David Robinson's angular beats. Read more »

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