New Music Tuesday 9.18.12

“The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind” by Ben Folds Five

For Ben Folds Fivefans, the wait is finally…

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New Music Tuesday 9.18.12

"The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind" by Ben Folds Five
“The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind” by Ben Folds Five

For Ben Folds Five fans, the wait is finally over. The trio’s first album in thirteen years, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind, is here and it was well worth the wait. Songs like first single ‘Do It Anyway’ (below) show that despite the passing of over a decade, the band can still rock with the same exuberance that their earlier albums enjoyed. The track features Robert Sledge‘s trademark fuzzed out incredible bass work, and drummer Darren Jessee pounds out the rhythms as passionately as ever. ‘Hold That Thought’ is rich with harmony and a warm, inviting melody. Ballads ‘Sky High’ and the breathtaking “Away When You Were Here” show the bands versatility. They can rock with the best of them, but its the dynamic between the rockers and softer tunes that give this album its place next to the bands previous records. ‘Thank You For Breaking My Heart’ closes the record in expert fashion, leaving you with one of Folds’ finest ballads ever. Ben Folds Five are back, and after hearing “The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind“, you’ll feel like they never left. Pick up a copy today.

"Mirage Rock" by Band Of Horses
“Mirage Rock” by Band Of Horses

Mirage Rock is filled with inviting, well crafted rock. Band Of Horses shows a strong Americana influence on the record, especially on songs like ‘Slow Cruel Hands Of Time’ and ‘Shut-In Tourist’. The vocal work by Ben Bridwell certainly has a hand in that world, but his haunting tenor lends itself to just about any influence the band tackle. ‘Knock-Knock’ (below) kick things off with fuzzed out guitars and “woo-ooh’s” reminiscent of The Beach Boys. The bass lead in of ‘Dumpster World’ sets up a moody, cowboy-noir like shuffle that erupts into a heavy, distorted march. ‘Electric Music’ is a bright track that echos the tumble and bounce of early rock and roll but never sounds dated or well worn. Mirage Rock is the kind of record that would fit perfectly with an autumn campfire, equal parts exciting and mellow. It is certainly worth adding to your collection.

Battle Born by The Killers
Battle Born by The Killers

After a short hiatus that many expected to be the end of the band, The Killers have brought us Battle Born, a record that may arguably be the band’s finest album to date. The record is slightly darker in tone than previous efforts, but it includes all of the rock and roll bombast we’ve come to expect from Brandon Flowers and company. All of the bands previously explored influences find a comfortable home on Battle Born. ‘Flesh and Bone’ begins the record with an electro pulse that gives way to an exciting track that summarizes the sounds that we will hear later on in the disc. Single ‘Runaways’ (below) has all the shimmer and power we’ve come to expect from a Killers single, but has a magic all its own. The driving ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ grabs a hold of the listener and doesn’t relent for its near five minute run time. Electro acrobatics crescendo into an american rock pulse on ‘The Rising Tide’, a track that will draw many comparisons to other artists but its chorus is unmistakably the bands own. The track also features an exciting guitar solo, a seemingly lost art these days. I was not hotly anticipating Battle Born, but I am delighted to say that my preconceptions were wrong. This a truly fine record, one I know I’ll be spinning for a while.

New Music Tuesday 9.11.12

“Theatre Is Evil” by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra

Amanda Palmeris a true artist in the…

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New Music Tuesday 9.11.12

"Theatre Is Evil" by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
“Theatre Is Evil” by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra

Amanda Palmer is a true artist in the digital age, and with the release of her new album Theatre Is Evil she makes that point even truer. The album was crowd funded through Kickstarter, a fantastic way for fans to support the artist they love, and Palmer’s fans certainly got what they paid for. As a whole, the record is fantastic. Palmer is famous for her brand of cabaret inspired art punk-rock, and while that theme is certainly explored on the record, there are a lot of other influences at play. Synths and effect soaked vocals begin the album on “Smile (Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen)”, and that kind of shoegaze meets electro pop shimmer reappears on other album highlights like the fantastic single “Want It Back” (Censored video below with a link to the NSFW version). “Do It With A Rockstar” pulsates with a punk rock fury that will supercharge your day. Strings blaze through the stunning ‘Trout Heart Replica’, a tender, emotional piano ballad. By the time “Olly Olly Oxen Free” crashes to its thundering close, you will have fallen in love with this beautiful record. I really cannot say enough about this album. If you are the least bit artistically inclined, Amanda Palmer is the kind of artist that will make you want to create. Head over to her website to grab a physical (CD or vinyl!) or digital copy of Theatre Is Evil, rock out, and enjoy.


‘Want It Back (Uncensored NSFW)’

"Love This Giant" by David Byrne and St. Vincent
“Love This Giant” by David Byrne and St. Vincent

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from this collaboration between David Byrne and St. Vincent, but Love This Giant managed to take me by complete surprise. I mean that in the best way possible about this amazing album. Both of these artists styles are evident on the record, yet they created a sound wholly unique and exciting. Big rhythms and catchy melodies are augmented by beautifully arranged horns that give a feeling of Big Band style records, but don’t get me wrong. While that element is certainly at play here, Love This Giant is definitely not a Big Band album. The way they manage to undercut each arrangement with either an acoustic guitar bed or quick electric riffs is what gives the record its ‘hard to classify’ nature. Lead single “Who” (Below) is a great introduction. If you enjoy that track (and how can you not?), this is a record for you. Equal parts dangerous and safe, you really need to hear Love This Giant. I loved this record, and I know you will too.

Pacifica by The Presets
Pacifica by The Presets

Pacifica is a perfect example of what makes an electronic album great. Terrific songwriting, bouncy beats, bold sounds, and the will to experiment make the latest album by The Presets one not to miss. Hyperactive power pop, disco/funk, and soul all find a home on the disc, sometimes in the same tune. “Youth In Trouble” (Below) gets things off to a toe-tapping start, with the kind of ‘in your face’ vocals fans have come to expect. That mood will shift quickly come the much discussed “Ghosts”, a delicately layered, dreamy, synthpop gem that tells the story of a young soldier injured in war. “Promises” is another album highlight, a bright ode that should make its way on to many playlists as summer winds down. Album closer “Fall Epic” is a magnificent send off to the record, a bare yet powerful ballad that is a showcase for Julian Hamilton‘s intense vocals. The album’s end is moving, and will leave you wanting more. Pacifica is a wonderful record, and a must own.

New Music Tuesday 9.4.12

"Beacon" by Two Door Cinema Club
“Beacon” by Two Door Cinema Club

At least once a month when assembling this post, there is an album that has me from second one, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have that happen right off the bat this month with the new album by indie/dance pop group Two Door Cinema Club. Beacon is an introspective, contemplative dance party that never gives up. There are a bit more mid-tempo rockers here than on their previous album, but that is certainly not to the album’s detriment. ‘Next Year’ kicks things off in spirited fashion, and the record that follows further builds on this tune’s sense melodic interplay. The band is on point, and the delicate, purposeful vocals by Alex Trimble are a perfect fit to the electronic infused indie rock sound the band has perfected. I’ve embedded lead single ‘Sleep Alone’ below to give you a taste, and also a spotify link to my favorite track on the record, the horn accented ‘Sun’. Grab Beacon in physical or MP3 today.

‘Sun’: http://open.spotify.com/track/3Ns7BC6idlcJ9hzyNAnaTz

"Hot House" by Chick Corea & Gary Burton
“Hot House” by Chick Corea & Gary Burton

Jazz pianist Chick Corea has had a long and varied career, from progressive-jazz-fusion-rock (Return To Forever) his work with vibraphonist Gary Burton. The pair have worked together for nearly forty years, and on their latest album Hot House, they sound as fresh as ever. Take their exciting rendition of Beatles favorite ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (See the live version embedded below). The melody around which the duo play is familiar, but the soundtrack they create is anything but. This is an album full of two virtuoso having fun with music and enjoying their time playing with melody and composition. If you like what you hear in the video below, grab Hot House today.

"North" by Matchbox Twenty
“North” by Matchbox Twenty

I have already explained my affection for Matchbox Twenty here, and subsequently all those reasons are why I really like North. Not just out of nostalgia for a band I’ve loved, but because the songs on this disc continue to resonate with me as much as their work always has. Despite their long absence, the album doesn’t sound forced or dated in anyway. Highlights include lead single ‘She’s So Mean’, power ballad ‘Overjoyed’, and the darkly melodic ‘English Town’ Check out the link above for more info about the album, but know that if you’re a fan of anything the band has produced over the years, you will greatly enjoy this record.

"Centipede Hz" by Animal Collective
“Centipede Hz” by Animal Collective

Animal Collective isn’t for everyone. Their brand of art rock is augmented by strains and sounds unfamiliar in most indie rock circles, more akin to the psychedelic experimentation done in the sixties. The beauty in their music is how they use these unconventional sounds and arrangements to create the kind of songs that sound familiar as soon as you hear them. Not in the sense that they are rehashing already well trodden territory, but in that “Of course!” sense you get when you hear a song that you love before its over. The feeling you get when you are completely blown away by a song, and you wonder how you ever went without it. Now if you can imagine that feeling in between industrial sounding beats, electronic distortion, and filtered vocals, you have the epic that is Centipede Hz. If that sentence turned you off, than go ahead and skip to the next album in this post. If you were intrigued by that notion however, you should check out >Centipede Hz.

"Sun" by Cat Power
“Sun” by Cat Power

The songs on Cat Power‘s latest album Sun are just fantastic. What I mean by that is if you cam across any one of the album’s eleven tracks individually, they would immediately make you want to know more about the artist that created them. Sun is a labor of love from an immensely talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer, whose real name is Chan Marshall. With the exception of some mixing duties, Ms. Marshall handles every bit of Sun herself. You can hear her passion for her craft in tunes like album opener ‘Cherokee’, the album’s title track, and the fantasitc harmonies on ‘Ruin’ (below). The eleven minute empowerment epic ‘Nothin’ But Time’ swells and falls over shiny synths and thundering rhythms, and features background vocals by an almost Johnny Cash sounding Iggy Pop. His gruff vocals offer a perfect counterpart to Marshall’s sweet breathy melody, and the tune floats by like a dream. By the time you reach the hip-hop-ish closer ‘Peace and Love’, you will have found that Sun is full of warm and welcome surprises. Make it part of your collection.

My Thoughts On Matchbox Twenty and ‘North’

Matchbox Twenty
Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty is one of the first bands of my generation that I remember discovering. Most music I was into at age Eleven was hand-me-downs from my parents, and I still didn’t really listen to the radio. I had never heard of MB20 until the summer of 1997, which I spent at a theater program at my town’s High School. The program allowed High School students to direct younger kids in a several different productions over summer break, and I looked forward to it every year. The High Schoolers were all so cool, and everyone wanted to hang out with them. I remember sitting by myself one day at lunch when one of them came up to me and started up a conversation. He was one of the directors I looked up to, so this was huge for me. We mostly made small talk about the different shows being worked on, but as would prove all to common later in my life, the conversation soon shifted to music. I didn’t really know many of the bands he mentioned, and I thought he would be impressed by my knowledge of The Beatles and other Classic Rock. He told me that if I liked rock, that I needed to hear this new band called Matchbox Twenty. His words sold the album brilliantly, and that I would especially love a track called ‘Long Day’.

I hounded my parents until they finally brought me to Tower Records (look it up kids) so i could purchase the album, and I instantly fell in love. I played Yourself Or Someone Like You all day, every day, and ‘Long Day’ was instantly my favorite song. I memorized it front to back. When school started in the fall, I used to carry it around with me in my backpack in spite of the fact that I didn’t have any kind of portable CD player. I just wanted that record on me at all times.

Rob Thomas quickly became a hero of mine, solidified by each subsequent release. I loved him because he was not only responsible for the songs I held so close to me, but his versatility as a songwriter was something I had immense respect for. MB20’s second album, Mad Season, was the first record I purchased in the new millennium, and it remains one of my favorite albums to this day. All of the different genres utilized on that record blew me away, and that quality is something I still look for and enjoy when listening to new music. Check out the very album faithful spectacular live version of ‘You Won’t Be Mine’ below.

The band’s third record, 2002’s More Than You Think You Are, was a move back towards the straight up pop/rock of their debut, and I loved every track. The band was back with a force, as evident on the live version of ‘Bright Lights’ below.

In my opinion at the time, this was an unstoppable band, but history would prove otherwise. MTYTYA would be the bands last full album for ten years. They released a greatest hits compilation, Exile On Mainstream, in 2007, and Rob Thomas released two solo records in the interim, but to me nothing replaced the feeling I got when holding a new Matchbox Twenty Record in my hands.

To say my anticipation for their new record, North, was high would be an understatement. I was trying to be very adult and patient about it, but this was something that I had been waiting for since I was sixteen. After a few listens now, I can honestly say that it did not dissapoint. North is a very poppy record, filled with great hooks and all the ballads and rock longtime fans are used to. The band experiments with a electronic rhythms at a few points, but they never stray to far from the classic Matchbox Twenty sound. The band’s song writing is on par, as evident with the stylistically different lead singles ‘She’s So Mean’ and ‘Overjoyed’, which are embedded below.

You can stream ‘North’ for free right now at iTunes, and it comes out this New Music Tuesday 9.4.12. There’s so much to love about this record, and I hope you give it a try!

"North" by Matchbox Twenty
“North” by Matchbox Twenty

New Music Tuesday 8.28.12

“Infinity Overhead” by Minus The Bear

Infinity Overheadis the kind of record that makes me so…

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New Music Tuesday 8.28.12

"Infinity Overhead" by Minus The Bear
“Infinity Overhead” by Minus The Bear

Infinity Overhead is the kind of record that makes me so excited about music. There are so many influences at play here that combine to make an extremely poppy and incredibly exciting progressive/math rock record that will play on repeat in my headphones for a long time. Minus The Bear have been a favorite of mine for several years, and with each new record the band has slightly altered their sound to craft something new for their fans. This record packs in all those influences, and the resulting package will please fans of every era. The Hall and Oates influence of their last record Omni is definitely on display here (‘Lies and Eyes’), and the post-hardcore progressive rock (Steel and Blood [below], Diamond Lightning) fans have loved since day one gives this record its core. I can’t say enough about how good this record. You really need to check it out for yourself. You should always listen to albums as a whole, but if you can give this one the time it deserves, I promise you that you will enjoy yourself. Pick it up over at Amazon MP3.

"A Thing Called Divine Fits" by Divine Fits
“A Thing Called Divine Fits” by Divine Fits

When musicians who are passionate about their craft come together, the result is always worth a listen. That was my attitude going into A Thing Called Divine Fits, the album by indie supergroup Divine Fits. Britt Daniel (Spoon), Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks), and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) have created an album that is as fun as it is unique. Each members style is present on the record, but together they find a nice balance of danceable, indie rock. Opener ‘My Love Is Real’ (Below) gets things going with a darkly sweet groove. The track bobs and jumps along a fuzzed out, brooding rhythm that is contrasted by an ethereal synth riff that will be in your head all day. The bright bounce of the expertly layered ‘The Salton Sea’ is exactly the kind of exciting track I would expect from this collaboration. The tune is bright with a darker undertone, and it never seems to go in the direction you think. This will be on many people year end lists, and more than likely on mine. Grab it at AmazonMP3.

"Violent Waves" by Circa Survive
“Violent Waves” by Circa Survive

Circa Survive have earned their place among many in prog and/or post-hardcore communities as one of the top acts making records today, and with one listen to Violent Waves you might join them. Dynamic, sprawling, and always rocking, this is a record that demands your attention. The big moments seem bigger than anything they’ve done heretofore, and the quieter moments are anything but killing time between the rocking. The seven minute opener ‘Birth Of The Economic Hitman’ kick-starts the album and sets the bar high. What follows does not dissapoint, especially the savage screams in ‘Sharp Practice’ and the propulsive rhythms of ‘Suitcase’. By the time the album’s second epic ‘I’ll Find A Way’ glides the album to its gentle close you’ll be more than satisfied with the price of admission. Circa Survive seem to improve the sound and scope of their ambition with each new album, and Violent Waves is a fantastic addition to their already seminal cannon. Grab it for yourself at Amazon.

New Music Tuesday 8.21.12

This weeks albums are a bunch of Heavy Yeasayer’s having a Bloc Party, and you’re invited!

“The…

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New Music Tuesday 8.21.12

This weeks albums are a bunch of Heavy Yeasayer’s having a Bloc Party, and you’re invited!

"The Glorious Dead" by The Heavy
“The Glorious Dead” by The Heavy

I fell in love with this record. The Glorious Dead is a powerful, exciting force of an album. The Heavy have taken all the best elements of rock, blues, and early Motown R&B and created a truly epic sound. Heavy, fuzzy riffs and thundering percussion are met with exhilarating String, Horn, and Choral arrangements that augment each track without feeling forced. This is a record that was meant to spin on a turntable in between your Otis Redding/Sam Cooke records as well as your Black Keys and Band Of Skulls. Big tracks like ‘What Makes A Good Man’ (below) and ‘Don’t Say Nothing’ pop and wail, while the haunting ‘The Lonesome Road’ simmers along at a slower, more measured pace. This album doesn’t have a dull moment. Every tune is worth getting lost in, so I recommend grabbing your best set of headphones and letting The Glorious Dead take you away. Easily my favorite album out this week, this is also a strong contender for my top albums of the year. Pick it up at Amazon now for just $6.99!

"Four" by Bloc Party
“Four” by Bloc Party

Bloc Party roar back onto the scene with their new album Four, but longtime fans might have a problem with which specific scene they chose. At its core, Four is more ‘Rock’ than any album the band has done before, almost comepletely forsaking the hipster-iffic dance parties that took place on earlier records. What takes its place is a sound that has more in common with dirty blues and harder edged 1990’s style rock than the groups earlier Franz Ferdinand or early Killers albums leanings. The result will be jarring for some, but if you can get past any pre-conception, what you will find is quite rewarding. Tracks like ‘Octopus’ (below) and ‘V.A.L.I.S’ have the band’s trademark lightning fast precision riffs and beats overlaying fun, hypnotic grooves, but tracks like So He Begins To Lie’ and ‘Kettling’ will make you reminisce about every Cobain influenced band most of us worshiped in high school. When it comes down to it, Bloc Party have shown their versatility with Four. No matter the wrapping, their brand of rock and roll will always be the gift that keeps on giving. Grab it now over at Amazon MP3

"Fragrant World" by Yeasayer
“Fragrant World” by Yeasayer

As a fan of picking out bands influences, I loved listening to Yeasayer‘s Fragrant World. Yeasayer is rightfully lumped into the Electronic genre, but their songs owe a debt to the worlds of pop, funk, folk, and psychedelia as well as more worldly African beats and Middle Eastern arrangements. Much of Fragrant World doesn’t stray from a mid-tempo bounce, but rather than get caught in a straight forward lulling monotony, the group chooses to create unique and engrossing soundscapes on each of the album’s eleven tracks. The fantastic vocal effects on ‘Longevity’ (below) give the tune a robotic Prince effect before giving way to swirling synths and strings. Other tracks like ‘Devil And The Deed’ and ‘No Bones’ echo paths forged by the likes of Depeche Mode, but their fresh production and looped backing tracks keep the tunes from feeling stale or rehashed. The inclusion of the Dub influenced ‘Henrietta’ gives the record that multi-genre balance that Yeasayer’s contemporaries fail to accomplish when culling together a full length. Fragrant World finds the group in a class all their own, high above what you may perceive as today’s Electronica. Join the fun by grabbing the album over at Amazon.