The term “Celebration Rock” comes across as less of a title or even a genre and more like a location: a chunk of stone hurtling through space on which the sweatiest and loudest basement show is perpetually thrown throughout the ages. Japandroids are no strangers to this genre of traditional garage rock, especially when they were first starting out in Vancouver, British Columbia. They found it difficult to break into a tight-knit local scene so they spent a lot of their time setting up house shows and adhering to the kind of DIY lifestyle that inherently fuels bands with bombastic performances. Celebration Rock, their third album, is similar to their older material, but everything seems tighter and more defined.
On the album-opener “The Nights of Wine and Roses” they sing “Don’t we have anything to live for? / Well of course we do,” and I can’t help but appreciate their honesty and avoidance of coming across as anything but themselves. In hindsight, “The House That Heaven Built” was an odd single for them to release because it isn’t necessarily the best track on the record but when each song goes in the same general direction it’s hard to distinguish which is best. “Adrenaline Nightshift” is perhaps the most accessible song on the album; it balances a simple melody with a drunken sing-a-long chorus to truly emulate the feeling of an audience in a live concert setting. “Continuous Thunder” closes out the album with the most guarded sound, slowing the infinite party to examine some honest concerns. They sing, “If I had all of the answers/And you had the body you wanted/Would we love with a legendary fire?” with the same conviction as their other songs, making them seem like real thoughts, not just artistic license. But, it’s not like Celebration Rock just simply ends. The final track leads into the first track, suggesting a cyclical nature to the record. The record begins with the sound of fireworks in a celebratory atmosphere, but after listening through a few times, the fireworks toward the end sound like the amps fizzling out as the show ends.
Celebration Rock has an unusual quality that fully encompass pit-stained rock without totally falling into a stereotype. Their “whoa-oh”s are all in-order, the song structures are generally similar, every song has basically the same tempo, but nothing feels ornamental. The pure energy within these thirty-five minutes carries this album beyond any other purpose than living in the immediate now as you make your way through the passive, motionless crowd to meet your new friends in the pulsing mosh-pit. Celebration Rock may seem youthful in its seemingly simplistic approach, but everything else about it cries out against becoming a fully-fledged adult with responsibilities.
In my previous introduction piece on Anni B Sweet, the 21-year-old Spaniard, I mentioned just how much she had grown from her debut album, 2009’s Start, Restart, Undo, based on the four songs we’d been able to preview from her sophomore effort, Oh, Monsters!. After repeated listens to the full body of work, I can say that I was only half-right in my statement. Ana López, the young woman behind the mask has done more than grow, she’s leapt forward years ahead of where it might have been possible to predict.
There was little in that first album that indicated the sonic exploration López would undergo in just three years. Aided by vetusta morla’s Gullermo Galván on production duties, she creates fourteen fairly diverse landscapes in which she is able to weave stories about her fears, her “monsters”, if you will.
One such fear seems to come from aging, and everything it entails. In “Getting Older”, one of the album’s finest moments, López compares her childhood memories to her current reality, and the growl in her voice, backed by the frantic instrumentation seems to demonstrate her disdain. “Hole In My Room”, which closes the album,seems to dwell on ignoring problems and fears only to have them return sooner or later.
More interesting than the stories that Anni B Sweet tells, though, are the musical directions and ideas she explores, most of which are successful. The aforementioned “Getting Older” is a full embrace of 60s psychedelia with hints of blues-rock thrown in, which makes it a really exciting track. “Ridiculous Games 2060” is a straight-up rock tune, with driving guitars and swaying tempos; it contrasts nicely with the following track, “Locked in Verses”, an acoustic number reminiscent of the material from Start, Restart, Undo. Elsewhere, “Missing a Stranger”, another album highlight,and “The Closer” explore something resembling a more fleshed-out version of dream pop, creating atmospheric instrumentation juxtaposed with abrasive drum beats.
As good as a lot of the material on Oh, Monsters! is, it doessuffer from a couple major flaws. At fourteen tracks and almost an hour in length, the energy and allure run out, especially considering that it is a tad front-loaded. Cutting out a couple tracks from the middle or end, particularly those most similar to the material present on the debut might have made for a more engaging listen. The album, to my ears, also feels a bit unnatural in the way it was mixed and mastered. A lot of it sounds unnecessarily abrasive, and it can distract a bit from the overall flow of the music. Granted, this probably isn’t an aspect López had much of a say in, but it’s a shame to hear music ruined by the more technical aspects of music.
Would I recommend Oh, Monsters!? Absolutely, particularly the first half. Given how little music from Spain actually makes it abroad, I think artists like Anni B Sweet do a great job of exemplifying that there’s more than capable musicians here. It’s just a matter of them catching on.
Secluded for the better part of the last year, the London quintet, Zulu Winter, wrote and recorded their debut album, with little to no wrap up, outside two tremendously popular singles, “Never Leave” and “Let’s Move Back to Front”, followed by “We Should Be Swimming”. They received the typical accolades that incur dozens of comparisons to contemporaries, some more warranted than others. With a list of influences and references as distinct as Armenian director Sergei Parajanov and Alice Coltrane, it’s hard to know what to make of the final product, Language. Frontman Will Daunt leads the band with his falsetto vocals and penchant for xylophones, albeit with little innovation, continuing the argument that Zulu Winter might not be completely living up to their potential.
Claimed as the umpteenth “new Vaccines”, it’s natural for the hype machine to go on overdrive with Zulu Winter, especially when nearly every blog reviews and artist’s first work, even if it’s only been months since their formation. Going on small tour with similar acts Clock Opera and Outfit, then venturing to America at the early part of this year, they kept their album completely under wraps outside of the few tracks they played on the road. Opening for the massively popular band Keane, they opened themselves up to comparisons won’t stop anytime soon. The restrictive nature of being a “buzz band” seemingly took its toll, and the pressure to continue on their current route was overwhelming, but the music still contains a certain appeal, even if it’s to an audience of mainstream pop fans.
The opener, “Key To My Heart” starts off with Afrobeat percussion and droning field recordings, alluding to a grandiose spirit that never quite arrives. Not a bad song, but the song never evolves into what it promised. “We Should Be Swimming” is a great step up, with throbbing bass that could be played on any dance floor on both sides of the Atlantic, but again it doesn’t live up to expectations. The songs that follow (“Bitter Moon” through “Silver Tongue”) continue on the same vein. The first single “Let’s Move Back to Front”, provides something different. It has a strong Morrissey influence; there’s no other way to describe such macabre lyrics delivered in such a delighted manner.
I suppose I’m mostly baffled at the lack of experimentation, the likes of which they had alluded to in interviews and articles I’ve read over the past few months. Despite the various mixtapes they posted to their blog or the mentions of musical influences such as Bradford Cox, the crisp, detailed, run-of-the-mill nature of their production proved much to the contrary. While I enjoyed most of the album, I couldn’t differentiate where the aforementioned influences started and where the lofty contemporary sound ended. From the heap of sound, the best comparison I can draw is to English indie rock band Wild Beasts, but again, this band’s biggest detriment is their lack of identity; I can only draw comparisons and cite obvious influences.
While the record has its various flaws, and I have my various reservations, Zulu Winter have assembled a well-crafted first effort. It’s easy to take offense at failure to deliver on their promises and ambitions, especially with a band whose reputation precedes them so much as Zulu Winter, but despite its various shortcomings Language has an underlining groundwork for something more inspired.
It’s part of the band’s story that’s rarely seen, but when I first stumbled upon them last year, Baltimore’s Lands & Peoples had shifted from the wide-eyed foursome of their SXSW days (only just a few months before) to a somewhat more nebulous and mysteriously undefined incarnation. Through an email (mostly sent out of curiosity), I discovered Lands & Peoples had whittled itself down to a twosome and were experimenting more, and it seems they succeeded at finding an absolutely riveting new setup. If you haven’t seen the duo live, it’s a thing of real beauty: a conglomerate of electronics, like a rack of synthesizers, are set up across from each other, accompanied by pedals galore. Guitars and basses are frequently handed off; a drum kit is sometimes struck while standing – it’s all entrancingly complex and yet on Pop Guilt, the group’s debut full length, there’s an intricacy of an entirely different sort. Perhaps that’s because at the time of Pop Guilt’s initial inception, Lands & Peoples were still a four-piece with a full cast of various talented people in tow.
The swooping, craning clarinet in “Ukulele” and the fullness of sound of “In Living Color” are luxuries Lands & Peoples no longer have access to as a duo, but still contain unshakable elements of the band’s core sound, much like the utter emotive power of Caleb Moore and Beau Cole’s vocals. “Ghosts” is the only obvious remnant of the foursome to carry over into the duo’s new sound, and it serves as another reminder of the boys’ vocal chops; sudden changes in mood and bursts of emotion pretty much define the track.
Despite the fact that the duo might not feasibly be able to recreate the bulk of it live (at least not without some hefty creative changes), Pop Guilt is an album where the duo’s origins can be clearly seen. Album opener “Three Shots” is just the sort of percussion-heavy jam-centric experimental piece you’d be likely to hear a recent show. The perfect beginning of “I Tried” builds a cluster of highly percussive effects – there’s fleeting chime hits, claps, staccato-bass riffs; it all sets the stage for one of the most bewilderingly catchy melodies on the album as Caleb Moore croons about all the things he’d do for love. “Don’t” captures the rapturous harmonies the duo have pretty much made their standard before launching into a rather bombastic and distinct b-section. The song ultimately settles into a deep bass groove with all the other parts flittering, fluttering, and noodling around it.
So, why release an album of songs they can’t resurrect in their live set? Pop Guilt gives us a glimpse into a rather interesting part of the band’s history. It also gives longtime fans a sense of closure, as well as proving that even in their earlier days, Lands & Peoples still knew how to combine memorable, singable pop melodies, and just the right amount of unexpected twists and turns to make each listen as enriching as the first. So as Lands & Peoples gets more comfortable with their latest arrangement and tightens up, branches out, and otherwise expands their exceptionally distinctive skill set, Pop Guilt will remain a notable benchmark of the band’s skill as purveyors of radically unique yet charming, ear-catching pop. It’s certainly a tough effort to beat, but the band will no doubt surpass it, given their proven inventiveness and talent.
That’s not actually M.I.A., it’s just a picture I found when searching for her and thought that this one was better than the one I was going to go with.
In the wake of the death of Amy Winehouse at the age of 27 yesterday, it’s sparked yet more discussion on just what the fuck is up with famous musicians dying at age 27.
Jack White was almost added to the list when he was involved in a car crash on his 27th birthday, but thankfully he missed that dance with the reaper and we’re both better off for it. Amy, however, didn’t miss that dance and M.I.A. posted this song to her Soundcloud page called 27 that was written before she released her “Vicki Leekx” mixtapeon the first day of this year but just never got around to finishing it.
It’s quite apt that she had this and I suppose for her, what better time to release it than now? It’s a bit of a dubby track, more mellow than some of the tracks on her last album and on said mixtape, but check it out.
Every year for the past five or so, the SXSW organisers release a torrent of music containing hundreds of (free and legal) MP3s from the artists who are playing
Each year I dutifully download it and make my way through the copious amounts of new music, and this year was no exception; In order for me to bring this to you it took:
- Four weeks of listening to all 792 songs
- Going back through the 170 that I’d picked out and making sure they were still awesome on the second listen (they were)
- Making sure all of the songs had the correct ID3 tags and were labeled properly
- Putting the songs into six groups of ZIP files
- Uploading each ZIP file to Mediafire and then posting them below
- Listening to them all again and picking out my favourites
- Then going from the folder on my computer and copying the Artist - Song title, to pasting it in this post……170 times
- Uploading all of the songs to the site’s server
- Copying the MP3 location from the server, highlighting the song in the post and pasting the MP3 link so that it plays on this here page…..170 times
- And finally going through each song on this page and making sure they all worked (they did)
Don’t say I’m not good to you.
If you’re going to the festival you can use this as a guide to go check out some new music, and you can also use it as your soundtrack for the journey there (I included a handy dandy playlist (.m3u) file), but if you’re not going you can at least listen to what you’ll be missing.
Each song is playable by clicking on it and each song is downloadable by right clicking on it, or you can download the whole thing via the Mediafire links below. Because they were almost 1GB (total) in size I had to split them up into alphabetical groups. In bold underlinies are my favourites, and if you do end up going I’d love to see your pictures, hear your stories, and find out just how good any of these guys were.
If you go, don’t forget to check out We Listen For You’s Walking Show. Tell them Franky B Rockafeller sent you.
[UPDATE 6/12/2012: The individual MP3s were removed to conserve bandwidth, but you can still download them collectively via the Mediafire links below]
Download ZIP files via Mediafire below (all smaller than 200MB each):
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves - “We Don’t Need Our Heads”
Alcoholic Faith Mission - “My Eyes To See”
Alessi’s Ark - “The Robot”
Alvarez Kings - “Patience Is Strength”
Am - “Dark Into Light”
An Horse - “Trains And Tracks”
Anr - “The Endless Field Of Mercury”
Apollo Brown - “Desperation”
April Smith And The Great Picture Show - “Colors”
Artifacts - “Wrong Side Of The Tracks”
Automatic Loveletter - “Heart Song”
B. Bravo - “Computa Love”
Bahamas - “Already Yours”
Balmorhea - “Clamor”
Bare Wires - “Ready To Go”
Bear Driver - “Wolves”
Beat Connection - “Silver Screen”
Bell Gardens - “Through The Rain”
Belleruche - “Clockwatching”
Benjamin Francis Leftwich - “Atlas Hands”
Bikini - “Acheerlaeder”
Bloodgroup - “My Arms”
Blu - “Doinnothin’” (Featugod)
Boats - “Chrome Eyelids”
Body Language - “You Can”
Botany - “Waterparker”
Braveyoung - “And No Two Walked Together”
Candy Claws - “Sunbeam Show”
Capo - “Imposible”
Capsula - “Under The Woods”
Carmen Townsend - “Start All Over”
Cast Spells - “Glamorous Glowing”
Chappo - “Come Home”
Chapter 24 - “You Said”
Chikita Violenta - “Roni”
Christeene - “Fix My Dick”
Colour Revolt - “8 Years”
Cruel Black Dove - “Love Song”
Danny Malone And The Collar Bones - “Wait On Me”
De Staat - “Sweatshop”
Delicate Steve - “The Ballas Of Speck And Pebble”
Depressed Buttons - “Ow!”
Dignan - “Two Steps”
Dirty Ghosts - “Shout It In”
Erland & The Carnival - “Trouble In Mind”
Experimental Aircraft - “Paintings In The Attic”
Fake Problems - “Soulless”
Family Of The Year - “Chugjug”
Fast Romantics - “Cool Kids”
Fever Fever - “Monster”
For A Minor Reflection - “Flod”
Frazey Ford - “Blue Streak Mama”
Gallops - “Miami Spider”
Gemini Club - “Mirrors”
Geographer - “Kites”
Ghost Animal - “Single Man”
Giant Cloud - “Every Window Holds The Truth”
Gold Motel - “Safe In La”
Golden Ages - “Everything Will Be Alright”
Gospel Claws - “Avenues”
Grand Pianoramax - “Roulette”
Grass Widow - “Shadow”
Grimes - “Devon”
Guadalupe Plata - “Pobre Mary”
Gun Runner - “Fiber Glass”
Gypsyblood - “Take Your Picture”
Harrys Gym - “Old Man”
Homeboy Sandman - “The Carpenter”
Horse Thief - “Warrior”
Hospital Ships - “Bitter Radio Single”
I Was Totally Destroying It - “Come Out, Come Out”
Indigo Tree - “Leavingtimebehind”
In-Flight Safety - “Model Homes”
Inspired Flight - “Pull, Push, Let Go”
Intimate Stranger - “Beastie Queen”
Ivan Julian - “The Naked Flame”
Jeremy Messersmith - “Violet!”
Jesse Malin & The St Marks Social - “Burning The Bowery”
J-Live - “The Way That I Rhyme”
Karkwa - “Les Chemins De Verre”
Kastle - “You Know That I Know You Know”
Kimbra - “Settle Down”
Kinch - “Carolina Cannonball”
Kyla La Grange - “Walk Through Walls”
Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - “Penny Licks”
Les Handclaps - “Cliche”
Letting Up Despite Great Faults - “In Steps”
Light Fm - “Friends Aren’t Friends”
Literature - “It’s Cruel”
Los Rakas - “Soy Raka”
Maren Parusel - “Don’t Take Your Eyes Away”
Michael Lowenstern - “Trip”
Midnight Magic - “Beam Me Up”
Monogold - “Spirit Or Something”
Morning Teleportation - “Expanding Anyway”
Mujeres - “Reyerta”
My Gold Mask - “Violet Eyes”
Natalie Prass - “Bird Of Prey”
Nerdkween - “If”
Netherfriends - “Bret Easton Ellis Novel”
Nive Nielsen - “Done & Gone”
Norman Palm - “Easy”
Now, Now Every Children - “Neighbors”
Oh Sunshine - “I Belong To You”
Pictureplane - “Cyclical Cyclical (Atlantis)”
Prison Garde - “Where You Been”
Quadron - “Slippin”
Quiet Company - “How Do You Do It”
Rah Rah - “Arrows”
Random Axe - “Monster Babies”
Reptar - “Ready Or Not”
Revolver - “Get Around Town”
Roach Gigz - “Can I Rap”
Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside - “Danger”
Salva - “Wake Ups”
Sarah Jaffe - “Clementine”
Sasquatch - “Took Me Away”
Sean Nicholas Savage - “Disco Dancing”
Secret Cities - “Boyfriends”
Sepalcure - “Love Pressure”
Sex With Strangers - “New City Anthem”
Sherlocks Daughter - “Reprise”
Shuttle - “Tunnel”
Sims - “Burn It Down”
Sister Crayon - “Anti Psalm”
Small Sins - “Why Don’t You Believe Me”
Social Studies - “Time Bandit”
Soft Swells - “Every Little Thing”
Something Fierce - “Empty Screens”
Stamps - “Things You Do To Me”
Strand Of Oaks - “Last To Swim”
Sun Araw - “Deep Cover”
Sunbears! - “Little Baby Pines”
Superhumanoids - “Persona”
Suzanna Choffel - “Animal”
Sweatshop Union - “Oh My”
The Black Angels - “Haunting At 1300 Mckinley”
The Boom Bang - “Tobacula”
The Brother Kite - “The Scene Is Changing”
The Bubble Puppy - “Hot Smoke And Sassafras”
The Chain Gang Of 1974 - “Hold On”
The Deer Tracks - “Ram Ram”
The Devil Whale - “Barracudas”
The Frontier Brothers - “The Strut”
The Growlers - “Sea Lion Goth Blues”
The High Dials - “Uruguay”
The Hounds Below - “Cumberland’s Crumblin’”
The Jezabels - “Mace Spray”
The Kingston Springs - “The Weight Of This World”
The Limousines - “Internet Killed The Video Star”
The Melovskys - “King Of The Boombox”
The Minutes - “Secret History”
The Niceguys - “Die Later”
The Novocaines - “Cup Of Coffee”
The Rocketboys - “Brothers”
The Rural Alberta Advantage - “Stamp”
The Seedy Seeds - “Verb Noun”
This Is The Kit - “See Here”
Tigers That Talked - “23 Fears (Summer ‘10)”
Two Fresh - “Legal Tender”
Uncle Bad Touch - “I Wanna Love You”
Venice Is Sinking - “Tugboat”
Viva Viva - “Valentine”
Volkova Sisters - “Trouble”
Voxhaul Broadcast - “Leaving On The 5Th”
We Barbarians - “Chambray”
Wheelchair Sports Camp - “Party Song”
Withered Hand - “Religious Songs”
Zoe Muth And The Lost High Rollers - “You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying”
Zorch - “Zut Alore”
I’ve been looking for this for a few days now and I knew it was only a matter of time.
We’ve seen it time and time again this year, days or weeks before an album is released a song is either sent to radio stations and played before it’s meant to be, or it’s leakedand radio stations play it thinking it’s a legit release, only for the song to be removed from their site, or even when one of the new Sufjan Stevens tracks was played on Norwegian radio and the radio rip was flying around, Asthmatic Kitty then released a high quality version.
So here’s another taster (radio rip unfortunately) of what’s to come from the new Kings Of Leon album, out in about two weeks or so and called “Come Around Sundown”. I gotta say that even though I’ve been a huge fan for years now, they seem to be getting a bit pretentious, but maybe that’s just me.
Buy “Come Around Sundown”
Kings Of Leon - “The Immortals”
I have to say that I’m pretty pissed at Kings Of Leon at the moment.
I guess these days there are a shitload of people who say they’ve been a KOL fan from the start but actually haven’t, however I have. I remember when I lived back in Edinburgh there was a lot of buzz around them before their debut album was released and I never really paid them much attention, that was until my younger brother bought the album when it came out and I listened to it with him. I fucking loved it, and have loved the band since, including their last album “Only By The Night” which a lot of “old” KOL fans apparently hated, or stopped listening to them because of it.
The reason I’m pissed is that myself and a buddy from work were supposed to be seeing them, The Black Keys, and The Whigs, play at Hershey Park tonight and they only went and cancelled the show last week, ten days before it was supposed to happen due to a “scheduling conflict”. Well that ain’t true, it was because they didn’t sell enough tickets. Isn’t that a pile of shite? So yeah, I’m pretty pissed at them but hopefully the new album will remedy that, however I have a feeling it won’t.
Here’s the first listen of the first song from their upcoming fifth album “Come Around Sundown”, set for release on October 19th (unless of course there aren’t enough people interested in buying it then they might just not bother). I literally stayed up all night to hear and rip this as it was being premiered all over Australian radio before anywhere else (7am EST, 9pm AEST).
Buy “Come Around Sundown”
Kings Of Leon - “Radioactive”
Today was a pretty good day overall for new music, first off with our first taster of No Age’s new material, and now with The Wombats new single.
The Wombats are coming off the back of the huge success that was their 2007 debut album “A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation”. The curious thing about that album was that most of it was initially released in Japan a year earlier but without what’s arguably their biggest hit to date in “Let’s All Dance To Joy Division”. Well now they’re readying the followup to that album and gave Zane Lowe the first play of new music from that album.
It’s more electronic than a lot of the songs on their first album, this time going for more synths and electric streaks of dance-ability as opposed their more Indie-Rock fueled dance-ability of the songs from their debut. You can hear a radio rip below and let me know what you think. The single itself is due out on September 27th via 14th Floor Records.
The Wombats - “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)”
Charlie over at Wait What spent three weeks on this mashup, traveled 26,542 miles, worked 116 hours at his day job, tweeted 41 times, made 26 new Facebook friends, danced for 17 hours, snowboarded 5 mountains, celebrated 5 birthdays, took 2 trips to the hospital, found out his favourite author passed away, and ended up with 11 tracks of probably the most minimalistic and haunting rap mashups you’ll hear for quite some time. You’ll only be doing yourself a disservice by not giving it a thorough listening to.
He released the whole album as a free download, but you can check out the entire thing below
or download it for yourself from his site. due to copyright reasons he’s been asked to remove all known traces of the songs from his site and I’m sure I’ll get my DMCA soon, but until then, enjoy.