Bonjour. Oui oui monsieur et madames. Je M’appelle Davey. Comment se fait tout le monde aujourd’hui?
July 14 is Bastille Day, the national day of France. I could have written a one thousand word blog detailing French music over the decades. From Edith Piaf to Phoenix, and David Guetta to Gojira, I’m certain it could have been a winner. But I’m far too lazy for that, so a tenuous link will have to do.
Enter English indie/synth-pop act Bastille and their latest single ‘Laura Palmer’. Along with the equally mainland European sounding track ‘Pompeii’, this deceptively infectious tune is one of the twin peaks of the quartet’s excellent debut LP ‘Bad Blood’. Some guy named David Lynch told me that the french translation for fifth single is “La ura palmes er”. I think he might be pulling my leg, but I do have a feeling that he directed the video for the song, since it makes no fucking sense! When is Mullholland Drive Day anyway?
Ryan Clark (bass), Paul Astick (vocals / guitar), Rob Stephens (guitar), Steve Wilson (drums)
Leeds-based heavy rockers Hawk Eyes are about to release their brand new four-track EP on August 19th. The quartet’s potent mesh-up of post-hardcore, sludge metal and alt rock landed their latest full-length Ideas the top spot on my 2012 year-end list. With the new fan-funded release, they do not disappoint either. Produced by Andy Hawkins, That’s What ThisIs further develops the quartet’s winning formula. The numbers are still disarmingly clever and noisy, except the hooks are even grander, the melodies even more powerful, and Paul Astic’s vocals vastly improved. Hawk Eyes are most definitely going in a more accessible direction, yet there’s enough songwriting dexterity on display to make their integrity intact. This short EP whets the appetite nicely before the outfit’s next full-length.
Cheap is a great indicator of what is going to follow. While the track is not nearly as melodic as the remaining cuts, it juxtaposes mathy verses with an abrasive noise-rock chorus and spaced-out bridge to thrilling effect.
Sithu Aye has always been a shining star in the instrumental progressive scene, standing out from the crowd for his unique flair. Oh, and that’s right– he just received his master’s in physics too. So on top of all the music the man’s released (and in only the last few years,) he’s been busy climbing the rungs of academics. The alleged romanticism of musicians devoting all their time to their craft has always rung a little hollow to me, anyways, which is why I think there’s something to be said for artists that pursue their work while tackling life’s challenges. The end product feels more urgent, since the artist went utterly out of his way to create it. So maybe that’s why Sithu Aye’s music has always struck a chord with me, because I know it doesn’t come easily. He must’ve spent days upon days fine-tuning his production methods, saving up for the perfect guitar and drum program, and writing such intricate music. That’s right– he does all this by himself, if you weren’t aware. And while he was getting all of this done, he didn’t need to put his other priorities on hold– he plowed straight ahead with them, and still came up pretty damned far in the Bandcamp metal scene. Color me impressed.
So when Aye posted about a new release on his Facebook page, I was pretty surprised. I mean, this specific brand of progressive seems like it would take awhile to brew, right? And…
Maybe there is something in this ‘climate change’ brouhaha after all.
The “British Summer” ceased to be a thing a long time ago. We pretty much make-do with “mild” and be done with it…
…but now over here we are experiencing the briefest of heat waves. A week is a luxury. Some of you who live in perpetually sun-kissed climes may scoff, but that’s how it goes.
The heat does funny things to me anyway. A man with long, thick hair and a penchant for black jumpers finds little solace in the sun’s non-prejudicial UV beatdown. Nights are spent squirming on bedsheets like a drugged-up seal, days spent sighing loudly and cursing whatever malevolent god (Ra?) sent this yellow ball of hatred.
And so not for the first time, I find myself turning to Captain Beefheart, whose simple exclamation of “It’s so hot!” at the beginning of this song captures just how I feel. This is my brain in heat.
Ever since I was little I’ve always dreamt about having a machine that could just translate your thoughts instantly and directly into word form and transcribe them onto the page. When I was young, these were happy-faced, benevolent machines that always kept your privacy and never made a mess. As I get older, I care less for the tidy construct of untangled wires and the sweet sound of scribbling pencil attached to swishing robotic arm. Instead, in my growing desperation for what is true and naked and unsullied, I imagine a pair of hands plunging through my forehead and into my brain, ripping out a handful of thoughts, and scattering them with a clang onto a shiny silver tray. An image from a horror movie, perhaps, but purity has never been dependent on clean cuts.
Such a machine, ethical implications put to one side, would be a revelation for most of us because of a deep and debilitating affliction we all share: I like to call it The Fridge Door Syndrome. When the fridge door is closed, the disco ball spins. Seeds are swapped, skins are dropped, foodstuffs roam from shelf to shelf to shelf. You know it, I know it, Homer knows it. But then when you open that fridge door and look inside, the foods freeze, deaden, become statues of themselves. Close the door again, the volume knob is spun and the party resumes. So it goes with…
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 2, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves – You’re Always On My Mind (Topshelf Records)
Big Black Cloud – Black Friday (Eolian Empire)
Billy Woods – Dour Candy (Backwoodz Studioz)
Jay-Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail (Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation)
The Leisure Society – Alone Aboard The Ark (10 Spot)
Lisabi – Acts (Lisabi/Bandcamp)
Look Alive – Mistakes & Milestones (Autumn + Colour Records)
Maya Jane Coles – Comfort (I/AM/ME)
Never Shout Never – Sunflower (Loveway Records)
Owen – L’Ami Du Peuple (Polyvinyl Records)
Pretty Lights – A Color Map Of The Sun (8 Minutes And 20 Seconds Records)
Relient K – Collapsible Lung (Mono Vs. Stereo)
The SpacePimps – Eternal Boy (The SpacePimps)
Warbrain – Void Of Confusion (Resist)
- Tags on band pages now update every 15 minutes instead of instantly.
- ‘Third’ genres should no longer appear unless they have at least 15% of the total votes.
- Non-approved tags will no longer appear on band pages or navigation.
- Mods can now reset tags on a band profile and can and will ban people for inappropriate tags. Don’t be a tagging troll.
- Pie charts now only use the ‘top two’ genres for each band. 8 genres are displayed.
We’re in the process of implementing a loose grouping structure for the genres. For instance, clicking on a ‘major’ genre such as Rock, Metal, or Alternative will not only display content for bands with that specific tag, but also for related subtags. Functionally, the tagging system is unchanged. If a band doesn’t fit a subgenre well, just use one of the more generic tags.
Lastly, two reminders:
- Please keep in mind that the subgenre system quickly becomes unhelpful if there are too many subgenres. We’re taking our time approving new requests until we’re sure that requested tags make sense. There’s no need to request every micro-genre that you’ve seen on the internet.
- If you don’t like how a band is tagged, don’t complain — vote for what you think is most appropriate. Given the new 15% system, bad tags won’t exist eternally on a band page. In a…
Following the electro abomination that was 2009’s ‘In This Light and On This Evening’, even fans of English indie-rock band Editors could be forgiven for approaching their follow-up ‘The Weight of Your Love’ with equal parts trepidation and dread. Anthemic, stadium-baiting lead single ‘A Ton of Love’ helped allay fears a little, although even the lead single from ‘In This Light…’ (‘Papillon’) was fairly strong.
More interesting is the curious selection of ‘The Weight’ as the new album’s 2nd single. The Muse-like ‘Sugar’ or hooky backing vocals of ‘Formaldehyde’ seemed more obvious choices, with ‘The Weight’ more playing the role of fantastic album opener, for mine. It’s a brave choice and hopefully one that will pay off.
Beginning with dark, ominous synths before giving way to an incessant beat and almost folky guitar strums, Tom Smith’s striking baritone soon captures attention, even if his trademark ambiguous lyrics (“I’m a lump of meat with a heartbeat”) occasionally confound. Most pleasing is the existence of an ever-present tension, with each sound after sound, instrument after instrument and melody after melody being meticulously added to build up and then release. Brilliantly, this pseudo title track is both thoroughly melodic and accessible.
The video – which was filmed in Nashville, where the band worked with producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) – follows the straight-forward template from ‘A Ton of Love’: Black & White footage of the band playing the song. Borrrrring? Maybe, but it kind…
On July the 26th-28th, the Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island will once again play host to the annual Newport Folk Festival. A staple of both the town and the festival circuit, the Newport Folk Festival was first established in 1959 as a counterpart to the already established Newport Jazz Festival. The festival quickly gained an immense reputation and became renowned for introducing audiences to performers who would go on to become superstars in their respective fields; this is certainly the case for Joan Baez,( who first appeared in 1959 as an unannounced guest for Bob Gibson in ‘59), and Bob Dylan, who when appearing (coincidentally as a guest of Baez’s) solidified his reputation and gave, what has come to be regarded as, his premiere national performance. Over the years the festival and caliber of the performers (and their performances) has grown, and this year’s lineup seems equally qualified to raise the bar even further for the festival’s dedicated fanbase, with Feist, Beck, The Mountain Goats, Beth Orton and many more set to converge on Newport over the week. Sputnikmusic is both proud and excited to be presenting an exclusive roundup of the festival, so make sure to stay tuned to the blog over the coming days for a comprehensive account of a festival rich in history and musical culture.
For more on the Newport Folk Festival, including the full lineup and to purchase tickets, please head on over to the official site.
Yesterday, it was discovered that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have named their child North. That’s right. North West. And maybe it’s because they actually decided to name their child a stupid pun a precocious seventh grader might come up with when pressed to come up with a name for a baby with the surname “West,” or maybe it’s because Kimye didn’t go with the infinitely better Easton as they’d hinted at earlier in Kim’s pregnancy, but that’s it. I give up. There have been many things leading up to this moment, but this is the absolute final straw.
I am so fucking done caring about Kanye West.
After reading all the shit that’s flying around Yeezus right now, a record that’s as close to an embodiment of the Shakespeare quote, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” as I’ve ever heard, the thought popped into my head: why? Why do we care about Kanye West? Yes, he’s a celebrity, a monstrous cultural figure that’s totally unavoidable. To ignore him is to bury one’s head in the sand, to pretend to live in a world that isn’t real, to choose to be culturally out of touch, yadda yadda. But does that really mean we have to shit ourselves pondering the politics of Kanye West? He certainly wants us to, which is why Yeezus is purposefully drenched in all that EQ-busting, industrial abrasiveness, and we’re taking the bait like donkeys with carrots…
My first experience with event production company the Do LaB came about in what I imagine was a similar way for many unfamiliar with the groundbreaking visual artist collective – the Oasis tent at Coachella, where the relentless heat is blessedly filtered through a prism of high-pressure water for a few merciful moments. People came for the hoses, but they stayed for the art, that uniquely visual spectacle that accompanies every Do LaB production in the desert and the underground acts the company usually has rocking its stages with the help of a costumed menagerie. Their ninth year at the festival was no different, with Gaslamp Killer, Kaminanda, Idiot Savant and a whole host of acts turning the art installations into a wild, somewhat nightmarish (depending on whether the light was by the sun or the oscillating lights), always unforgettable scene.
Shame on me, then, for not realizing until 2013 that the Do LaB actually curate their own festival just a couple hours south of Los Angeles. Lightning in a Bottle runs from July 11-15 at Lake Skinner County Park in the wine country near Temecula, CA, and is less a musical festival as the common summertime denominator goes and more a cultural event; a hip Burning Man without the blasted landscape and blasted hippies. It’s apparent in the lineup – a smorgasbord of Low End Theory-mainstays and buzzworthy indie pop, furious electro grooves and exotic world music, deep house…
As promised, we want to whet your collective appetite for what the site’s tagging system and band pages will potentially look like (as you know, things are subject to change, but as of now, the owner’s on pace to start rolling this out sometime in Q3!).
Click the images to enlarge.
There is a high probability that the band pages will be re-designed, but this won’t take place until the tagging system is implemented since this will be a unique (and much-welcomed) upgrade to the site.
To give it to you hard and fast (that’s what she said), I’ll briefly (emphasis on briefly) walk you through what the tagging process will look like once it’s implemented.
I was going to use Opeth as an example, but I’m so sick of people trying to change their genres to Folk / Black Metal / Power Metal, so I’ll use another Sputnik darling instead.
1. First things first: here’s what the tagging system will look like (friendly reminder: click the images to enlarge them):
You’ll note that the red tags are basically what the site currently lists as the “Primary / Secondary / Tertiary” genres.
Once the tagging system is implemented, there will be a flurry of activity to get artists the most accurate genre listings. This will be awesome.
Because of basic statistics principles, we’re not worried about bands being mislabeled, because the community as a whole will ensure accuracy over the random…
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of June 18, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
3OH!3 – Omens (Atlantic)
Anton Zap – Water (Apollo)
Austra – Olympia (Domino Recording Co.)
Chimp Change – Type Zero Civilization (Chimp Change/Bandcamp)
Circa – HQ (Cleopatra)
Citizen – Youth (Run For Cover)
Empire Of The Sun – Ice On The Dune (Astralwerks)
Falling In Reverse – Fashionably Late (Epitaph)
Goldhouse – Back To Life (Goldhouse)
Hanson – Anthem (3CG)
Heliotropes – A Constant Sea (Manimal Vinyl Records)
Kanye West – Yeezus (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
Lemuria – The Distance Is So Big (Bridge 9 Records)
Mac Miller – Watching Movies With The Sound Off (Ingrooves)
The Mantles – Long Enough To Leave (Slumberland Records)
The Masquerade – Home Is Where You Make It (The Masquerade)
Matt-U – Something About You (Nomad Records)
Midnight Faces – Fornication (Midnight Faces/Bandcamp)
The Mowgli’s – Waiting For The Dawn (Island/Def-Jam) Primal Scream – More Light (Ingrooves) Sigur Rós – Kveikur (XL Recordings)
Slaid Cleaves – Still Fighting The War (Music Road Records)
Stephen Kellogg – Blunderstone Rookery (Elm City)
Steve Gunn – Time Off (Paradise Bachelors) Swindle – Long Live The Jazz (Deep Medi Muzik) The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever (Topshelf Records)
Tunng – Turbines (Full Time Hobby)
Vacation – Candy Waves (Don…
Some background, if you’ll forgive me. In the early 1990s, a group of friends from Louisville, Kentucky, went to a Jodeci concert in their hometown. After apparently coercing a security guard into letting them backstage, the group met with Donald DeGrate, Jr., also known as DeVante Swing, the de facto leader of Jodeci. They came specifically to Swing to promote their R&B trio, A Touch of Class, probably hoping that he would like what he heard at least enough to pass their name on to one of his connections, if not take them under his own wing. It worked, and after coming off the tour for Jodeci’s hugely popular sophomore album, 1993’s Diary of a Mad Band (which peaked at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 and would go on to sell two million copies), Swing contacted Jawaan Peacock, a.k.a. “Smokey,” a member of A Touch of Class, who had since restructured his group into a trio with Benjamin “Digital Black” Bush, another original member of the group, and Stephen “Static Major” Garrett, a high school friend with whom Smokey had reconnected at the University of Louisville.
Some time around 1994, Swing decided Playa, as they were now called, were worth his time, and he promptly signed them to his Swing Mob label—a subsidiary of Elektra Records in the U.S.–which placed them in the company of such heavy hitters as Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, and Timbaland. Swing Mob collapsed in 1995, but Playa were able to successfully jump ship to…