Kristian Matsson, The Tallest Man on Earth, released a new single on Friday through the Adult Swim singles series entitled “Weather of a Killing Kind”. It’s what you might expect from Matsson – a wistful folk song that beautifully weaves it way from start to finish with sweeping vocal melodies and gentle, finger-plucked accompaniment. Matsson has a style, and he’s not ready to let go of it just yet.
But the song is also something new for Matsson; it’s topical. “Weather of a Killing Kind” makes no particular dedication, but you have to believe that Matsson had at least one of the recent natural disasters on his mind when he penned the song. The earthquake in Japan, the Las Conchas wildfire in Santa Fe, or the floods in Pakistan, perhaps. What came to mind for me, perhaps because it hits closer to home, was the tornado in Joplin, MO; today, authorities announced the 159th confirmed death to come of the disaster. “I see the clouds, I see the shadows/It’s rainin’ wolves outside our door/We stand and watch through hesitation/’Cause they’ll be spread out there forevermore,” Matsson sings in the first verse, announcing the impending doom.
But it wouldn’t be a TMoE song without everything turning despairingly personal: “And I feed the clouds, they are my shadow/’Cause I have raised the cubs myself alone.” In the final chorus, the lyrics are transformed: “Here is my weather of a killing kind.” The song is full of beautiful poetic twists and turns, and while…
When Pat Grossi, the man behind Active Child, dropped Curtis Lane into circulation in mid-2010 it marked something determinedly different from the rest of the pack still hung-up on replicating the chillwave sound artists like Washed Out and Toro y Moi were perfecting. Even though he’d been lumped by association into the genre, Grossi’s gorgeous falsetto and sun-stroked harp melodies were much more direct and in many ways much more beautiful than anything his peers were doing and were strung closer to dream pop than anything else.
Now with his debut LP, You Are All I See, ready to go, Grossi has released a track off the album as part of the Adult Swim Singles Program and it’s absolutely beautiful; one of those songs that’s sure to get the hype steamroller into motion, sounding like the r&b vocal sensibilities of How To Dress Well layered over much brighter, more operatic melodies than anything Love Remains could conjure. Listen to “Hanging On” here:
For today’s track of the day I was going to choose a track off Stephen Marley’s new album, Revelation Part 1: Root Of Life, but instead I’ve opted to go with this, a song from Ellwood’s recently released Lost In Transition. Here’s why: not only should you already know how good Stephen Marley is, but I just couldn’t choose a single song off such a strong album. So, then, Ellwood.
Ellwood is a new project from Mad Caddies singer Chuck Robertson and before you ask, no, they don’t sound like Mad Caddies. I hated the Mad Caddies but love this album. I love it because of its simplicity: this is traditional, summer-time pop-infused ska. No horns, no gimmicks, just laid back reggae tinged sun soaked riddims. And if you cringed reading that, good, because I cringed writing it, but if even a small part of you cracked a grin, be it out of pity or nostalgia, Ellwood’s worth checking out. For fans of Sublime, the Slackers, etc, etc.
Check out “Sunshine Garden” below.
In the four years since Zach Condon’s francophilia hit its gorgeous, horn-blaring high with 2007’s The Flying Club Cup, a quick detour through Mexico for the hit-and-miss March of the Zapotec EP has been the only visible marker of our hero’s musical whereabouts. It wasn’t until the release of their latest single, the wonderful “East Harlem”, that the band’s upcoming third LP, The Rip Tide, was firmly on the map again and if the tracklist is anything to go by, it looks like Condon, whose trip to Europe inspired Gulag Orkestar, has left his travels behind for places like home (simultaneously his hometown “Santa Fe” and his part-time residence, “East Harlem”), “Payne’s Bay”, and the single b-side (the namesake of a town in Indiana (thanks Google)) “Goshen”. NOTE: On further investigation, Goshen is also an area in New York, which may make more sense.
The b-side and album track burns slowly, possibly more so than any Beirut song thus far, and Condon’s croon is accentuated by the usual suspects – the percussive-based group of brass, strings and vocal harmonies that give Beirut their shine – and a delicate piano riff. You can listen to the track for yourself below and pre-order The Rip Tide, set for release August 30th, here.
So July is here, and once again we find ourselves nudged by the unrelenting pokey stick of time into the second half of another year. Except this time, we’re staring down the barrel of an end-of-the-world Mayan raygun year and there may not even be time for Google to deliver Mark Zuckerberg that cyber-wedgie he so sorely needs. Worst of all, in merry old England at least, you could hardly even say that summer’s arrived. Even by our standards, it’s been pretty pants.
Nevertheless, it’s always awesome to find tracks like Youth Lagoon’s ‘July’, which sound great come rain or shine, Apocalypse or lazy Sunday. The Year of Hibernation, the debut LP from Trevor Powers’ solo project, is full of songs which charm and captivate with their delightful, youthful exuberance, infectious melodies and summer-daydream fuzz. But it’s on ‘July’ where Powers really excels. Tinged with reverb, lyrics of reminiscence echo from the 22-year-old’s fragile voice whilst the song builds; from the absorbing ambience, to the uplifting handclaps and pianos, and finally to the canyon-filling cry of fuzzy guitars and rousing oh-ohs, ‘July’ is thoughtfully and maturely structured. And yet, the song still manges to retain that feeling of rawness; of youth. Not the oft-exploited youth of impulse and parties and misguided profundity, but the youth of anxiety, of daydreams, of unrealized strength discovered when it’s needed most.
So whilst this July may be unpredictable, and possibly fill your head with thoughts of the end of the world, you can bet…
If anyone has been in the Sputnikmusic room on turntable.fm while I am DJing, you probably know that I like Portuguese kuduro group Buraka Som Sistema. A lot. Like, if the room gets remotely dancy, I’m putting on a Buraka song immediately.Black Diamond, released in 2008, remains one of my favorite dance albums of the past decade. Their Essential Mix for BBC rules. Their FabricLive album rules. “Restless”, the single they released in 2009, rules.
Point is, if Buraka Som Sistema doesn’t get you dancing, you are probably a really self-conscious person who doesn’t like to dance.
“Hangover (BaBaBa)”, their first single from Komba, their second studio album set to be released this fall, has one of the most annoying choruses of all time, but I’ve been singing it for the two months this song has been available. Although signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent and getting promotion from not only Diplo but also M.I.A., Reso, and other big names in the English-speaking dance world, Buraka have struggled to find an audience in the U.S. due to their tendency to feature Portuguese and Angolan rappers who alienate the U.S. fanbase. “Hangover”’s chorus, in essence, is a response to that language barrier. “BaBaBa” is global and undoubtedly infectious.
If nothing else, watch the video for “Hangover” for the dog at 1:30. That dog kills it.
We can listen to Gold Cobra all day trying to figure out just how ironically we’re enjoying it. We can listen to Taking Back Sunday all day, trying to convince ourselves that it’s a spiritual successor to Tell All Your Friends.
But of the albums released on my birthday, Junior Battles’ Idle Ages is obviously the most fun. It’s an album of sounds pop-punk forgot about. It’s an array of whoa-oh-ohs and shout-along throwbacks in the style of what most of us grew up on. It’s Blink 182 before Travis Barker, Green Day before “When I Come Around”. It’s Fall Out Boy before Patrick Stump got fat then skinny again.
Bloated rambles aside, it’s fun. I said that already, I said it again. I’ll say it a third time—it’s fun. But here’s the catch: I’m not posting a song off Idle Ages. I’m posting one off their self-titled 7”, which is free if you go here.
If you like this, go buyIdle Ages sight unseen. Do it for the days before MP3 sampling, when you bought albums on good faith and recommendations. Or, you know, for the days when you just bought albums in general.
Rock veterans Wilco recently left Nonesuch Records to start their own label, and with that comes, of course, another new Wilco release. “I Might” is the first single off it, initially available only to those who picked up a copy at the band’s Solid Sound Music Festival in Massachusetts but thanks to the magic of the Internet now available here online for everyone. The band’s eighth proper album, tentatively titled The Whole Love is set for a September release.
The track itself has a driving acoustic melody with a thick bass that reminds me a bit of “I Am A Wheel’s” hook minus the adrenaline, but the track is about what you’d expect from Wilco at this stage in their career: enjoyable, light, dare I say happy. It may veer a bit closely towards “dad-rock” for those who didn’t really enjoy Wilco (The Album) but if you like joyful Jeff Tweedy over depressed, pill-popping Jeff Tweedy, than you’ll be even more excited for the upcoming record.
The 2008 film Berlin Calling wasn’t exactly a huge hit in the west, yet as actor and composer for the film, Paul Kalkbrenner achieved quite substantial popularity in Germany. Sure some such as Ben Klock, Marcel Dettman and others around the Berlin scene may have as much talent; but comparing to his status and fame would be very difficult. Kalkbrenner’s work on Berlin Calling should not be trivialised because of its popularity. Sky and Sand still connects so easily and with such minimal effort, in a way that many in his field wouldn’t have a handle on. Tracks other than the single such as Azure likewise are in persistent motion, with minimal brush strokes conveying such beautiful imagery.
Sure it was always going to be difficult to follow up on Berlin Calling given its popularity, but Icke Wieder certainly delivers on the sounds that have served Kalkbrenner well in the past. Picking a highlight from the album is difficult, with Sagte der Bär, Kleines Bubu and Der Breuzen among others worthy of a mention. Yet Kruppzeug provides a nice characterization of Kalkbrenner’s sound, very much of Berlin, and very much minimalist. The song builds carefully, a pattering beat moving persistently across a simple melody. Though moving towards an end, Kalkbrenner’s minimalist narratives prove the most rewarding experience.
Since Irish Dave – as opposed to Aussie Davey – pressed “refresh” on the SputnikMusic ‘Track of the Day’ yesterday and espoused all things Irish, I thought I would follow his lead today and head a little north to the sunny country of Scotland. Ever since this wee Southampton supporter got many a laugh out of trying to decipher what the hell Gordon Strachan was saying in his post-match press conferences, something about that thick accent has tickled my fancy.
Musically, the nation has always provided some fond memories. Expats such as AC/DC and Jimmy Barnes took Australia by storm decades ago, while Simple Minds and The Proclaimers set the charts ablaze in the 80s. ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Chelsea Dagger’ saw Franz Ferdinand and The Fratellis continue the momentum last decade, while rockers Biffy Clyro were a bees d!ck away from being the most inspired live act I witnessed last year.
Continuing the notion that the Scots are just a little bit different to the rest of the world, Glaswegian six-piece Dananananaykroyd are now upon us with their crazy band name and self-labeled fight-pop genre. Performing a difficult to describe combination of indie-pop and post-hardcore, debut LP ‘Hey Everyone’ received resounding critical acclaim, while their energetic live show saw many a band member get injured as their audience were encouraged to perform a wall of cuddles!
Album #2 ‘There Is A Way’ has just been released, seeing the unique group rock up their boisterous sound.…
I’m sure you’re all fully aware at this point from my reviews, blog posts and twitter ramblings that I believe Irish music – and Dublin music in particular – is in the midst of a golden period, and nobody represents this better than labels Popical Island and the Richter Collective, either of which three-piece scuzzy pop outfit Squarehead can call home. (I’ve talked about Squarehead here before to mixed reaction.)
Saturday night saw indie collective Popical Island – jointly run by Squarehead drummer Ruan Van Vliet – put on their second annual Popicalia, a free all-day, child-friendly gig featuring as many of the label’s acts as they could fit in, including Land Lovers, Yeh Deadlies, Groom and the excellent We Are Losers (see the full, awesome running order here).
Time constraints meant I could only make it along for two acts – the aforementioned Losers and Squarehead – but I walked away with one particular tune stuck in my head and I haven’t been able to shake it since. Squarehead’s ‘Fake Blood’ was voted #1 Irish song of 2010 by Ireland’s most popular music blog, Nialler9, and it’s a real belter of a tune, resting somewhere between Weezer-influenced alt. rock and ebullient Brian Wilson-inspired pop.
‘Fake Blood’ appeared on the first Popical Island compilation (€5 on Bandcamp). The second compilation (which features another Squarehead song, ‘Candle’) can be streamed here and will also (presumably) be available for the same low price on Bandcamp soon.
Though I have no doubt the more blog-savvy of you would have caught onto Jai Paul’s awesomely wobbly ‘BTSTU’ sometime last year while it was weaving its way through the blogosphere like wildfire, for those of you who didn’t, here’s your chance to hear the most delicate “Don’t fuck with me, don’t fuck with me” ever recorded. Since being listed amongst the likes of James Blake, Jamie Woon, Yuck and Jessie J in BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll, things have been quiet from the Jai Paul camp but we do know he’s signed to XL Recordings and retreated to the studio to work on his debut full length (hopefully to be released sometime this year) and while that remains in the works, we can at least cherish what we have.
With all the world-changing events that have occurred in the past few days – the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist and, the big one, two celebrities getting married on TV – you’d be forgiven for asking “who gives a shit about Miley Cyrus right now?”
Well you’d be forgiven, but you’d also be wrong. See, while a team of Navy SEALs were storming a compound in Pakistan and doing what they do best, media savvy Miley was also hard at work, becoming the single most important musician of all-time. As Nitsuh Abebe’s excellent article in New York magazine explains, Miley’s 2009 hit ‘Party in the USA’ has inadvertently become Osama Bin Laden’s “death song” – the track that everyone flocks to on Youtube to have barely-literate partisan debates pissing contests.
(Incidentally, we ran with Team America’s ‘America, Fuck Yeah,’ thinking we were on solid ground. Clearly we’ve lost touch with the crucial preteen girl demographic that will decide all future world events. If nothing else, it’s heartrending proof that no matter how tight he shuts his eyes and just wishes as hard as his little heart will let him, Jom is just never going to be a little girl again.)
What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, really. Except that, not content with ousting Bruce Springsteen from the top of the “awesome anthems with USA in the title that we can chant in celebration of having vanquished the enemy,” Miley’s also…
While gamers everywhere explode with frothy, hyper-excitibilty over the release of the second installation in Valve’s Portal series, The National have given the rest of us a reason to be just as happy; hot off the heels of their contribution to the soundtrack of indie flick Win Win, they’ve dropped another new song to go along with the videogame.
“Exile Vilify” is meant to evoke the “same visceral reactions from its listeners that Portal does from its players” and though my gaming knowledge extends as far as Mario Kart and FIFA, if that statement rings true, you can count me in. It’s the sort of somber, slow-moving ballad that the band seems to be able to produce at a whim, suspending Matt Berninger’s croon above a beautiful piano melody and string arrangements, and it’s just as good as we’ve come to expect from a band that rarely ever puts a foot wrong. You can find it below, along with the teaser trailer for Portal 2: