Sunday, February 28, 2010

Outlandos D'Amour

I think one of the most fun things that comes with being a fan of music is rediscovering an album that you haven't listened to in ages and being reminded just how amazing it sounded when you first heard it. This happened to me this past week when The Police's debut album, Outlandos D'Amour, came on randomly and I was immediately reminded of it's brilliance. Fueled by the punk scene of the late 70's and combined with a heavy dose of reggae and early 80's new wave, this has got to be one of the all time best debut albums by a band.

The first three songs on this album are just such an infectiousness powerhouse of rock that it's impossible not to overstate their greatness. Stewart Copeland's hard pounding punkish drumming sets the tone from opening notes of Next to You and doesn't let up until the closing of Masoko Tanga. So Lonely is a perfect composition, once again showcasing Copeland's drumming skills, Sting's lyrical ability and a sick guitar solo by Andy Summers. Roxanne, though used and abused over the years by radio stations everywhere, still has to considered a classic rock n roll tune by critics and fans alike. This album also provides a wonderful juxtaposition musically and lyrically combining groovy up tempo beats with songs about heartbreak, suicide, and sex with blow up dolls- making this the happiest sad album I have ever heard.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Born in Illinois, and currently hailing from the rural California town of Ojai, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, you'd think this chick was raised in deep south on a steady diet of Bonnie Rait, PBR's, and Marlboro reds. Her voice is both bristly and beautiful- which she commands perfectly as she belts out songs about heartbreak, moonshine, the Midwest, and the mighty Mississippi (everything you could possible want on a good country/folk album).

Her debut album Why You Running was recorded mostly in Nashville late last year with Jacquire King (Kings of Leon), and is incredibly intoxicating- much the same way that Dylan's Nashvile Skyline is. As I said earlier, it's rough yet alluring, and kinda makes you want to ride off into the sunset in some beat up Ford pickup with your lady by your side and a 6 pack of bud heavy's. Enjoy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Them Clever Vultures

My first thought = supergroups usually don't work out. My second thought = I don't care, this has to be good.

and it is. Definitely got a very QOTSA feel, b/c I don't think Josh Homme knows any other style of music. But thats a good thing if you're a Queens fan, which I am. However, there are also some knock out riffs along the way that just fuckin slay. JP Jones even hits the electric keys on a couple songs which really brings in the Zeppelin vibe.

A lot of people are probably hating on this cause its not exactly pioneering, but if you're at all a fan of clever, dark and just straight up driving rock, this album is full throttle. Don't judge it too quickly, I think you'll be sorry.

Them Crooked Vultures

Pretty, Indeed

This dude calls himself Pretty Lights which is a pretty appropriate name given his shit sounds a lot like a fireworks show at a strobe light factory giving out e-bombs at the door. All in all, he takes a lot from the Blockhead canon of trip hoptronica, but really his sound is a lot busier overall. He also very adroitly blends the hip hop, electronic, and trance elements into a pretty smooth confluence.

You can download all of his albums on the website, and they all have worthwhile cuts. His latest, passing by behind your eyes, is probably my favorite, its very heavy on the blues and funk foundation and even throws in some siiiick Biggie samples. Some tracks are slower than others, but this dude has a great ear and is in my humble opinion extremely talented. You can catch him opening for Sound tribe this spring if you get a chance.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Four Tet before and after

Most of you out there have probably never heard of Four Tet, and that needs to remedied immediately because he is, without exaggeration, one of the most influential/kickass musicians of the 2000's. I've been pounding the new Four Tet album this week, and its totally unique awesomeness made me go back and rediscover his back catalogue, which has held up incredibly well over time. Let's take a quick tour through Tet country:

Kieran Hebden dropped his first solo LP as Four Tet in 1999, on the back of his success with his band Fridge. If "Dialogue" sounds unadventurous now, it's only because it's style has been bitten so thoroughly. So when I say that it's a little Caribou, a whole lot of Blockhead, and a dash of Dangermouse, understand that it's most likely the other way around. With it's jazzy undertones and meticulous study of sound, "Dialogue" is a good introduction to the Four Tet vibe - it's music that demands headphones and rewards close attention. Here's my favorite cut off the album, Chiron:

With "Pause" in 2001 and then "Rounds" in 2003, Hebden moved further and further away from hip-hop and towards a new sound that eventually became labeled as folktronica (a genre he more or less created). What these albums revealed was a love of found sound that borders on obsession - not just musical instruments, either, but any kind of noise. The song featured in the video above, with it's backbeat formed by the haunting wheeze of a breathing machine, is just one example. The way a guitar string is plucked, the way a record crackles in the background, the way a snare drum rattles after it's hit - everything matters. In Four Tet's world, every note is it's own melody. It feels ridiculous to type that, but it's true.

Seriously, I could mancrush on this dude for days - his ability to bridge the acoustic/digital divide, his incredible collabs with Burial and Steve Reich, his personality and attitude, embodied by the fact that on his new album he includes a track that's just a recording of his godson's heartbeat, as a gift. But instead of that, you should go listen. Listen to "Parks" and "She Move She", preferably on a train and preferably late at night. Listen to "Sing" and "This Unfolds" off the new album and notice how his style can evolve without ever really changing. Listen to it all, and then relisten again and again, because this is one of the few musicians who's worth it every single time.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

La Blogotheque

Fleet Foxes - A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

I have found yet another way to kill hours on the internet. It's amazing what people can do. La Blogotheque, a French website that brings together bands for random, small, intimate performances and films them with a stunning visual style. The Fleet Foxes vid above is one of the better ones, part of their Take Away Shows series - bands performing in public, unplanned venues. Phoenix did a walking/bus tour of Paris for a few songs. Bon Iver pulled off something similar. They put Vampire Weekend, acoustic version, in front of a small, packed crowd - what they call a Pocket Party. The site has been around for a while, and they have just about everyone you might care about (or at least that I do) doing something awesome.

There are a few reasons why I have grown to love this site. One - reimagining how these bands are supposed to sound is absolutely fantastic. You get a little glimpse into how this particular group of people started laying down the bones of a song - how it all sounded before they got into a studio with synths, amps, multiple takes and tracks. It also let's you feel the music in a much more immediate way. You get to see the emotion up close, experience the joy these musicians have when they play without the one-layer remove of the recording. Not to mention you get to see these guys hear their own music in a completely new way, and sometimes it catches them off guard. And of course, it's just really well done. Go waste some time.