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Before we get started, a big round of applause to VheissuCrisis and StrangerofSorts, who have now earned the illustrious rank of Staff Reviewer. If receiving such a lofty title as that wasn’t enough, they now also earn unmitigated access to Sowing’s staff car wash service, as well as a signed copy of Babymetal’s last album.

Also a hearty (not big, but hearty nonetheless) round of applause to ComeToDaddy, ExplosiveOranges, JohnnyOnTheSpot and thelastsignal, who have all joined the contrib ranks. And to our returning contributor JamieTwort as well; greatness and one free ice cream await you all.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 24th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

The Agonist – Eye Of Providence (Century Media)
Ahamkara – The Embers Of The Stars (Nordvis) – Magnus Altkula
Aidan Baker – The Confessional Tapes (Pleasence Records)
The Airborne Toxic Event – Dope Machines (Epic)
Alcoa – Parlour Tricks (Caroline Records)
Alien Ant Farm – Always & Forever (Executive Music) – Jom
All That Remains – The Order Of Things (Razor & Tie)
Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise (Def Jam)
The Black Ryder – The Door Behind The Door (The Anti-Machine Machine)
Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct (Nuclear Blast)
Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer (Domino Recording Co.)
Drug Cabin – Yard Work (401K Music)
Dutch Uncles – O Shudder (Memphis Industries)
Emile Haynie – We Fall…

Following on from last week’s ‘Sputnik Discusses’ column, another of my most anticipated 2015 albums has seen two tracks released from it. Of course, I am talking about Massachusetts indie-pop outfit Passion Pit, who are gearing up for the release of their third LP ‘Kindred’ on April-21. First up comes the bouncy and energetic lead single ‘Lifted Up (1985)’, which also fills the role of album opener. As one can probably already deduce from its title, this tune is both enthusiastic and nostalgic, with an infectious earworm of a chorus where lead vocalist Michael Angelakos sings “1985 was a good year”.

Next to see the light of day is track 3 ‘Where the Sky Hangs’. Much more methodically-paced than ‘Lifted Up (1985)’, this song is still no less contagious. Whether through music or vocals, Angelakos simply has that gifted knack to make listeners move their body in some way, shape or form.

In truth, neither of these two tracks stray a great deal from the sound exhibited on Passion Pit’s two excellent LPs thus far; ‘Manners’ and ‘Gossamer’. But is that a good or bad thing? I guess that we will have to wait a couple of more months for ‘Kindred’ to be released to find out.

Queens rockers Bayside released their excellent 6th LP ‘Cult’ last February. A year later on March-3, the quartet add to the original 11 tunes with the 15 track ‘White Edition’ of the album. While the first of the four new songs to be heard – ‘Dancing Like An Idiot’ – is nothing more than a decent B-Side that was rightfully kept off the album proper, it hasn’t wasted any time in drumming up some publicity for this under-rated band.

Coming complete with a lyric video (spelling mistake and all), lead vocalist Anthony Raneri lets loose on some of the young bands who proliferate the Warped Tour scene. “That’s where I get to see what the kids are doing”, Raneri tells Billboard. “At Bayside shows, I wouldn’t know what the trends are with young kids, same in my home life. Warped Tour is where you see all kinds of different people. These bands are just writing giant curses on t-shirts and selling it to a kid because they know the kid is stupid enough to buy it”, Raneri goes on to state. “You’re telling them it’s cool to buy a t-shirt to piss their parents off. There’s nothing cool about that… That’s mall rebellion… That’s not real rebellion. I grew up liking The Smiths & Nirvana… I fucking hated Guns N’ Roses. It was bullshit, misogynistic and fake rebellion – nothing is more corporate and commercialized’.

Headlined by the lyric “You’re basically One Direction if they all had…

I’ll admit it: I wasn’t always the biggest Sufjan Stevens fan.

When I first heard Illinois, I found it to be bloated and annoyingly festive, even for my rich taste. I didn’t bother to follow up much after that, conceding that he was “talented, but not for me.” I did give a passing listen to The Age of Adz – mostly out of a desire to see what all the fuss was about – but then too, the man’s compositions felt insane and I just couldn’t relate to any of it. Perhaps I was simply lacking context. Or maybe I’ve just lost my mind over the years. Either way, Sufjan gradually (even begrudgingly) became a mainstay within my musical collection.

It all started on a boring, hot summer afternoon in 2010. The air conditioner blasting on high, I sat in my bedroom idly staring out the window. I had just finished up school, and with no friends around me the world just felt colorless and I couldn’t shake this sensation that it was slipping away from me. I had Facebook chat open in the corner of my monitor, pathetically awaiting social interaction, but nobody obliged. Cooped up in my parents’ house, it seemed like I was squandering the best years of my life. So yeah, it was depressing times and all that shit. Anyway, I specifically recall b

Call me jaded… It might be because I’m getting older… Or maybe it’s just the way that the music industry is here in 2015… But I rarely anticipate an album release anymore! And no, it’s not just because the Arctic Monkeys began their brilliant debut LP by telling us that “anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment”. If anything, for yours truly, it may be to avoid the hype (both positive and negative) surrounding a particular album. In fact, the aforementioned Arctic Monkeys debut is the perfect example. I also recall going out of my way to ignore Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ for 2 or 3 months for the exact same reason.

Prior to about 2010, such a thought wasn’t even a consideration. Like everyone, I have a group of favourite musicians and if they were scheduled to be releasing an LP that year, then I’d greatly anticipate it… No matter what the quality ended up being. As successors to classic albums, I couldn’t snap up Muse’s ‘Black Holes & Revelations’, Rise Against’s ‘Appeal to Reason’ and Anberlin’s ‘New Surrender’ quick enough. But now, I’ll listen to an album whenever I get a chance (pending Sputnik reviewing obligations). And then, last August, I saw a trailer for an album which reignited that anticipatory feeling. Sure, it may have had more to do with the supporting documentary… And yes, I’ve yet to actually hear the LP as it’s meant to be heard… But I…

Applications are still open for contrib and staff positions for those wishing to climb the proverbial Sputnik ranks. If you have a vested interest in writing about music, are a respectable and friendly member of the community, and have no idea what I mean when I say mezz crew, then head on over here to submit your applications.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 17th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

36 Crazyfists – Time & Trauma (Spinefarm Records)
The Amazing – Picture You (PTKF)
Anthony Naples – Body Pill (Text Records)
Black Rivers – Black Rivers (Ignition Records) – SowingSeason
Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth – Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth (Neurot Recordings)
Colin Hay – Next Year People (Compass Records)
Elle King – Love Stuff (RCA)
Estelle – True Romance (BMG Rights Management)
Ibeyi – Ibeyi (XL Records)
Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors (Interscope Records)
José González- Vestiges & Claws (Mute)
The Juliana Hatfield Three – Whatever, My Love (American Laundromat Records)
Kate Pierson – Guitars & Microphones (+180 Records)
Kodaline – Coming Up For Air (RCA Records)
Letts – Hold Fast (Vagrant Records)
Lyal Strickland – Balanced On Barbed Wire (Self released)
The Mavericks – Mono (Valory)
Mourn – Mourn (Captured Tracks)
Nedelle Torrisi – Advice From Paradise (Ethereal Sequence)
A Place To Bury Strangers –…

As an indirect prelude to the ‘Sputnik Discusses’ column that is set to break the internet mid-week, here are the first 2 tracks to be heard from Florence and The Machine’s third LP ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’. To be released on June-1, it follows the critically acclaimed releases ‘Lungs’ and ‘Ceremonials’. First up is the title track, which is predominantly instrumental and very orchestral. It sounds like the perfect album opener to me:

However, a closer look at the track-listing for this much-anticipated 11 track release suggests that it actually slots in as the 3rd tune of the album. That feels a little strange to me, but until we hear the (pardon the pun) flow of the LP, then I’m happy to take a “wait-and-see” approach. What we do know is that it will immediately follow the lead single ‘What Kind of Man’. This one’s got everything; an alluring build-up, hooky guitar riff, blaring horns and those oh so passionately soaring vocals that have become a staple of Ms. Welch… and the video even has boobs:

Seriously, the world has gone fucking mad! If it wasn’t enough that Tenacious D just won a Grammy award for ‘Best Metal Performance’, it has just been announced that Australia has been allowed to enter the Eurovision Song Contest this year. That’s right, the EUROvision Song Contest. Never mind the 16 hour flight it takes to get there. Upon first hearing the news, I immediately thought that the organizers of the event had done a Jim Carrey:

I guess that we shouldn’t be surprised, since the reigning winner of this cheesy contest is Conchita Wurst / Thomas Neuwirth; a bearded, umm, person from (ironically) Austria. Talk about opening the proverbial can of worms; while supposedly a “one-off initiative to mark the contest’s 60th anniversary”, we could one day have a Eurovision Song Contest without a European nation taking part! Of course, the only reason why the participating countries are relevant anyway, is for them to vote along political lines to the point of predictability. And the best thing about the contest itself is the hilariously demeaning voice-over commentary.

So the next step is for Australia to choose an entrant, and the mainstream media are all over it in asking for possibilities. Sadly, it’s the usual dross that’s put up for discussion; which basically amounts to Kylie Minogue or any one of a number of young female reality show contestants. Some bright spark, however, has taken it upon themselves to think outside of the box and put…

Oh, you knew it was coming… And who better to talk about heavy freaking metal than yours truly? How about those youngsters Def Leppard burning up the scene right now! Seriously, anyone would think that I was a NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) member and took part in the voting this year myself. For the two of you who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, let me inform you that Tenacious D just beat out Anthrax, Mastodon, Motorhead and Slipknot to win the ‘Best Metal Performance’ Grammy award. Yes, that Tenacious D; the fat bald guy and the comedian who starred in that film ‘School of ROCK’ (or was it ‘School of Metal’)!?

Of course, this isn’t the first time that this category has received backlash. Back in 1988 when the award was called ‘Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance’, aging Brits Jethro Tull beat out Metallica’s ‘…And Justice For All’… A result which prompted audible booing from the audience, an infamous magazine advertisement (right) and Lars Ulrich actually making people laugh 4 years later with his “I’d like to thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year” quip. Just to confuse matters further, this hybrid award made a return to the Grammys three or four years back. Understandably, it was booted again rather quickly, but one has to wonder if it made any difference in light of recent happenings.

For anyone wondering,…

Applications are still open for contrib and staff positions for those wishing to climb the proverbial Sputnik ranks. If you have a vested interest in writing about music, are a respectable and friendly member of the community, and have no idea what I mean when I say mezz crew, then head on over here to submit your applications.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 10th, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Adolescents – La Vendetta… È Un Piatto Che Va Servito Freddo (Frontier Records)
Adrenaline Mob – Dearly Departed (Century Media)
Blackberry Smoke – Holding All The Roses (Rounder)
Blacklisted – When People Grow, People Go (Deathwish Inc.)
Caught On Tape – Full Bleed (Northern Spy Records)
The Districts – A Flourish And A Spoil (Fat Possum)
The Dreaming – Rise Again (Metropolis Records)
Fat Mike – Home Street Home (Fat Wreck Chords)
Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop Records)
Gretchen Peters – Blackbirds (Scarlet Records)
JD McPherson – Let The Good Times Roll (Rounder)
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year With 13 Moons (Mexican Summer)
Johan Agebjorn – Notes (Paper Bag)
Joker – Mainframe (Kapsize)
Knifight – V (KnifightMusic)
Marduk – Frontschwein (Century Media) – Kyle Ward
Martin Sexton – Mixtape Of The Open Road (Kitchen Table)
Neal Morse – The Grand Experiment (Metal Blade)
Retox – Beneath California (Epitaph)
Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow…

A big part of why I review music here on Sputnik lies in my desire to introduce little known bands to a wider audience every now and again (and to get introduced to other lesser-known bands myself). Saudi-Arabian black/folk metallers Al-Namrood definitely fit into that “little-known” category, and from today up until Friday the 13th, Sputnikmusic has an exclusive chance to stream their upcoming EP, titled Ana Al Tughian, which will see the light of day also on the 13th via Canadian label Shaytan Productions. As can be expected already by reading where they’re from, Al-Namrood sound nothing like the Western metal we’ve become accustomed to. There’s real oriental flare, theatrics, and an alien quirkiness on this short EP that makes it seem like it’s from another world entirely to a Westerner like me. Especially helpful in making it sound so different are new frontman Humbaba’s vocals, which seem downright bizarre at first, but on repeated listenings prove an invaluable part of the Al-Namrood experience. As a whole, Ana Al Tughian sounds almost like a soundtrack to an Arabian festivity in the same way Mechina’s albums sound like soundtracks to space epics: with a lot more guitars incorporated. As a unique listening experience, Al Namrood’s newest EP is surely worth 12 minutes of your time.

The stream has ended!

Al-Namrood Facebook
Al-Namrood homepage
Shaytan Productions bandcamp

Late night talk shows have always been good for a casual watch. They’re usually entertaining for the most part, even if the topics of discussion are no deeper than drunk guys arguing the Jordan vs LeBron debate. With guests from all walks of life (sport, movies, television, music, politics, etc…) conversations are at least varied enough to not bore viewers to sleep. Most of these talk shows will include a musical guest playing 1 or 2 songs from whatever album they are selling at the time. However, if the musical act is not sufficiently well-known, they can occasionally feel like a time-filling hindrance; Simply there to fulfil some kind of structural obligation.

Of late, however, that seems to have changed to some extent… And thankfully for the music industry, it’s for the better. I’m no expert – or religious viewer – but it may have been ever since Sauturday Night Live alumni Jimmy Fallon joined the talk show host ranks, and happened to bring along with him a genuine musical act in The Roots as his studio band. Furthermore, Fallon has deftly integrated comedy and entertainment into the music which appears on his show, whether via impersonation, surprise guests or otherwise. I’ve already blogged about his fantastic Neil Young impression in the past.

Well, it seems that Conan O’Brien is now (literally) getting in on the act by uniting tv (himself), movies (Jeff Bridges) & music (Slash) in the one performance! With Bridges a guest on the…

He goes missing and then in the space of a couple of days he writes a review and a blog post. Yeah, that’s just me. Plus, I wasn’t missing, I was just lurking like the Aussie stalker that I am… Keeping an eye on how you’ve all been behaving. It comes in handy come promotion application time, you know!?

Speaking of, the staff at Sputnik Towers were finally released by the overlord Jom (his torture tactics were actually quite pleasurable, but the lack of beer did us in) and once we reconvened, it was decided that we’d try to liven up the blog. So here’s yours truly throwing something at the wall and seeing what sticks.

There is one catch though… It’s called “Sputnik Discusses” for a reason and needs YOUR help to keep it going and keep me motivated (Otherwise, I would have titled it “Davey Discusses”, which just sounds overly pretentious). So if you’ve got a thought, experience, list, ranking or whatever on the relevant topic being discussed, then don’t be shy… Fire away. Again, you just never know who is stalking your contributions to the site and what it may mean for your climb up the tower!

We all know that music (whether scored or soundtracked) has always played a large role in motion pictures. The same can be said to a lesser extent on the small screen, but seems to have become much more prevalent – and integral – over…

Welcome back!

Remember that applications are currently open for both contributor and staff positions on the site. If you’re interested and feel as if you have what it takes, then head on over to the application thread here and sell yourself to us! Not in a literal sense of course though… *

*There’s a different thread for that

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of February 3rd, 2015. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Big Noble – First Light (Affiliates Sound)
Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror (Nuclear Blast America)
Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night (Columbia)
Breakfast In Fur – Flyaway Garden (Bar/None Records)
Butch Walker – Afraid Of Ghosts (Dangerbird Records)
Chip Z’Nuff – Strange Time (Cleopatra)
The Church – Further Deeper (+180 Records)
Diana Krall – Wallflower (Verve Music Group)
Fifth Harmony – Reflection (Syco Music/Epic)
John Carpenter – Lost Themes (Sacred Bones Records)
John Tejada – Signs Under Test (Kompakt)
Kid Ink – Full Speed (RCA)
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee (Constellation)
Mount Eerie – Sauna (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Murder By Death – Big Dark Love (Bloodshot Records)
Ricked Wicky – I Sell The Circus (Guided By Voices)
TeeFlii – Starr (Epic)
Title Fight – Hyperview (Anti)
Two Gallants – We Are Undone (ATO Records)
Victor Villarreal – Sleep Talk (Joyful Noise Recordings)
Yesterday’s Saints – Generation Of Vipers (Draconum Records)…

10. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Official Site // Spotify // Facebook

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Stream: ‘Carissa’ (6:55)

The fact Mark Kozelek’s “dispute” with The War on Drugs has overshadowed Benji in press coverage speaks volumes for how fucking stupid it was, but at least it proved Mark doesn’t hold anything back. When he spends an album fearing, thinking about and reflecting on death you know he means it; when he says sorry to the kid he punched in high school you know he means it; when he explains how terrified he is of losing his mother you damn well know he means it.

And that’s what makes Benji so special. In his long-winded, meandering way, Mark has exposed himself to the world without a thought of how the world might react. The album doesn’t lose impact over time because there is nothing to be cynical about: nothing to see through. This is it, and it is sad, but with one line at the end of ‘Michellene’ Mark manages to remind us not to worry, because there is always each other. — Jonny

9. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Official Site // Spotify // Facebook

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Stream: ‘Rattlesnake’ (3:36)

Perhaps the most frequent justification for a record being self-titled is that it signifies a definitive statement; a culmination of all that’s great…

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