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Das Racist, the joking-but-not-joking rap group from New York, released their first paid single to the world yesterday in the form of “Michael Jackson”. It comes from their upcoming album Relax, and brings a lot to unpack, from the Wingdings-inspired album art to Heems’s RZA reference to the meaning, if there is one, to the song’s anthemic hook: “Michael Jackson/ A million dollars/ You feel me?/ Holla.”

But all I really have to say is this: “I’M FUCKING GREAT AT RAPPINGGGGGGGGG!”

Das Racist – Michael Jackson by Transdreamer

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of August 02, 2011. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Antigone Rising – 23 Red (101 DISTRIBUTION)
Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle (Merge Records)
Trace Atkins – Proud To Be Here (Show Dog Nashville)
Battlecross – Pursuit of Honor (Metal Blade)
Boston Spaceships – Let it Beard (Guided By Voices)
Richard Buckner – Our Blood (Merge Records)
Bury Your Dead – Mosh N’ Roll (MEDIASKARE)
Caina – Hands That Pluck (Profound Lore)
Greyson Chance – Hold On ‘Til the Night (Geffen Records)
Dead and Divine – Antimacy (Wolf At Your Door Records)
Denial Fiend – Horror Holocaust (Ibex Moon)
Direct Hit – Domesplitter (Kind of Like Records)
Dir en Grey – Dum Spiro Spero (The End)
Excruciator – The Devouring (Heavy Artillery)
Flourishing – The Sum Of All Fossils (The Path Less Traveled)
Fountains Of Wayne – Sky Full Of Holes (Yep Roc Records) – Rudy Klapper
Fruit Bats – Tripper (Sub Pop)
Harvest – Years of Defiance. Years of Disgust. (Good Fight)
John Hiatt – Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns (New West Records)
Hot Water Music – The Fire, The Steel, The Tread / Adds Up To Nothing (Self-released)
It Prevails – Stroma (MEDIASKARE)
Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son (Thirty Tigers)
Keb Mo – The Reflection (Yolabelle International)
Machine Drum – Room(s) (101 DISTRIBUTION)
Malefice – Awaken the…

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Scottish post-rock act Mogwai gave their fans the first glimpse at their upcoming EP Earth Division this week with the haunting “Get to France”. The eerie piano driven piece is the EP’s lead off track and comes off as the warped bastard cousin of songs like “Friend of the Night”. If this is any indication to the mood of Earth Division then it looks like we’re in for a treat.

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Here at Sputnik Towers, we get sent some pretty bad press releases.

Most of them are harmless enough – just things that nobody but the band and their immediate families would be interested in. A lot I’ll delete without reading. Some I’ll quietly seethe over for a while first. Hard rock bands tend to be the best at shamelessly taking advantage of natural disasters. New York indie bands tend to be the quickest to lash out an over-sincere cover version when a major musician dies. I thought I was immune to it at this point. Until today.

I know I’m basically doing the PR’s job for them here by reposting the press release verbatim. They might get mad at me for openly mocking their craft and refuse to send us stuff anymore. That would be a crying shame, because if they’ve got even one more release like this in their armoury then I might just actually explode, spraying litres and litres of hot, juicy amazoplasm all over the walls. I’ll be sure to put that one on Youtube.

Next week: Mikael Åkerfeldt exchanges emails with David Coverdale.

When Petrucci and James Unite

As a regular contributor to the LickLibraryAndy James is no stranger to hosting interviews with some of the best Rock & Metal guitar players in the world. Zakk WyldeGus G and Judas Priest are among those recently grilled by a man who is already hot on their tails for joining that very list.

In a short space of

Saturday’s schedule was underwhelming to say the least, a day filled with artists I never bothered to check out and bands that seemed undeserving of Pitchfork’s raves, but their mass coverage of the artist before the album seemed to predicate them attaching a best new music tag to the group’s album or single — artists like Gang Gang Dance and Julianna Barwick. Fittingly, I saw Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast walking around during the day.

I didn’t bother showing up until No Age played– again, one of those bands I just never got around to. Their two-person punk rock was energetic, but the show made me wish I was watching the more energetic, anthemic, and impressive Japandroids. Guitarist Randy Randall’s rig was nothing short of impressive, with three huge cabinets and a massive array of effects pedals, but he only ever seemed to use one distortion sound and, at the beginnings of songs, would occasionally loop and delay the feedback that inevitably ended every song. Perhaps I missed something due to the sound levels; clearly, the engineers were still tuned in to dance act Chrissy Murderbot, who had played the Red Stage before No Age, as the only thing audible for a good half of No Age’s set was drummer and vocalist Dean Allen Spunt’s bass drum. Indeed, bass-heavy mixes were a complaint for most of the festival.

Gang Gang Dance

Destroyer @ Pitchfork Music Festival, 7.16.11

Following No Age, I vaguely watched Gang Gang Dance, but aside from “Mindkilla”, they did almost nothing exciting, even with…

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 26, 2011. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

All Shall Perish – This Is Where It Ends (Nuclear Blast)
America – Back Pages (eOne Music Group)
Bodeans – Indigo Dreams (Oarfin Records)
Bomb the Music Industry – Vacation (Ernest Jenning) – John Hanson
Vanessa Carlton – Rabbits on the Run (Razor & Tie)
Eric Church – Chief (EMI Records Nashville)
City Lights – In It to Win It (inVogue Records)
Communic – The Bottom Deep (Nuclear Blast)
Dawkins & Dawkins – From Now On (Light Records)
Falling In Reverse – The Drug In Me Is You (Epitaph)
Heartsounds – Drifter (Epitaph)
Iwrestledabearonce – Ruining It For Everybody (Century Media)
Jasta – Jasta (Entertainment One)
Karmakanic – In a Perfect World (Inside Out U.S.)
Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Peacefrog)
Machinedrum – Room(s) (Planet Mu)
The Milk Carton Kids – Prologue (Milk Carton Records)
Pimps of Joytime – Janxta Funk (Wonderwheel)
Release The Sunbird – Come Back to Us (Republic)
Rival Sons – Pressure & Time (Earache Records)
Jay Rock – Follow Me Home (Strange Music)
Kelly Rowland – Here I Am (Motown)
Roxette – Greatest Hits (EMI)
Joss Stone – LP1 (Stone’d Records/Surfdog)
Mick Taylor – Mick Taylor (Iconoclassic)
Tidelands – If… (Redgummy Records)
Trophy Scars – Never Born Never Dead (The Same Ghost Collective)

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Pitchfork Music Festival Day 2

The Pitchfork Music Festival is strange. It’s strange because unlike so many other festivals around the United States, the organization behind the festival has its own ideas and its own opinions – opinions that are widely known. Indeed, Pitchfork could be considered the MTV of the 21st century blogosphere, a tastemaker and a major influence on the popularity of bands in the indie scene and, increasingly so, in the hip-hop scene. Whereas a Lollapalooza or a Coachella will book a group based on the number of fans it can attract, Pitchfork looks to not only attract visitors, but also showcase their taste. It comes as no surprise that a vast majority of the artists playing at Pitchfork have received the publication’s coveted “Best New Music” tag, either on an album, track, or reissue. So when multiple acts thanked Pitchfork for their “generous support” or “continued enthusiasm” or what have you, the gesture seemed a bit stranger, and it seemed that the artists had a more intimate relationship with the publication that they might have with Bonnaroo’s organizers.

Pitchfork’s opinions have not gone without criticism and controversy. Anti-domestic violence demonstrators picketed outside of Chicago’s cozy Union Park, where the festival is held, to protest the appearance of rap group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. (In response, Odd Future gave them cupcakes before their show). Pitchforkreviewsreviews.com, a website cryptically run by a guy named David, used to review the reviews that Pitchfork posted everyday. Now, David has taken to analyzing…

Two things unsettled me before I listened to “Vomit”: firstly, it’s title and secondly, that it was the first single off an album called Father, Son, Holy Ghost from a guy whose famous indie breakout Bon Iverism was that he’d spent the formative years of his life in a religious wacko cult. Creepy.

As it turns out, there was very little reason for my trepidation.

“Vomit”, besides a rather harrowing first minute, is more of the lovelorn classic rock wallowing of Christopher Owens, picking up nicely where the band’s Broken Dreams Club EP last left us. Crafted in the “Hellhole Ratrace” mould, it builds into a wonderful choir-backed climax, outrageous soul-singer and all, and shows off the leaps and bounds bandmate Chet Jr. White has made in composition since their charmingly raw debut.

Father, Son, Holy Ghost will be released on September 13th.

Girls -Vomit by Hypetrak

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TV On The Radio’s Nine Types of Light, released this year, was not ambitious.

This was odd. What have we come to expect from TV On The Radio if not ambition? Each record before this one seemed to give us another reason to call them ‘art-rock’, be it for their crazy musical ventures (to think they had the nerve to sample Metal Machine Music) or for their lyrically cryptic nature. Nine Types of Light, then, saw a band happy to slow down and ready to lose whatever “edge” was elevating them above the rest. You have to be pretty confident to do that, or at least very content indeed, and to me Nine Types of Light celebrates losing its higher calling as “art.” There’s no denying, however, that it doesn’t try to carry a statement as dark as “DLZ” or to look at an issue in the way “I Was A Lover” did.

So it feels brilliant to have the Nine Types of Light film as an accompanying piece, no matter how satisfied I am with the hour of music. To me, it feels intriguing to see a band re-imagine their music so immediately. There are other forums to offer a second interpretation on your music, but most of them feel a little more distant than this; the Flaming Lips, for instance, dedicated a musical to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, a record already surreal as hell, but it was released after the fact. Others would prefer…

TV on the Radio covered one of the greatest songs of all time, ‘Waiting Room’ by Fugazi, at the Pitchfork Festival over the weekend. Here’s a good-quality video of the performance, though it cuts out about halfway through.

It sounds more than a touch lightweight to me. Then again, my favourite part of the original is Ian MacKaye’s raspy vocal and Tunde Adebimpe’s shrill singing doesn’t really measure up in my eyes. Check out this live recording of Fugazi performing ‘Waiting Room’ and compare.

I rarely refer to press releases when writing about music: it’s bad practice and they rarely contain much information that’s useful to me anyway. Occasionally though, I’ll read a line that instantly hooks me, like this one:

HYMNSis a 2 piece atheist rock band comprising of Samuel Manville and Peter Reisner.

The phrase “atheist rock band” distills more or less all of my main interests into one manageable cocktail. What’s more, it’s the new project of Samuel Manville, the former frontman of tragically short-lived English math rockers Blakfish, who broke up last year just as I was getting into their music.

The three remaining members spun off to become &U&I, leaving Manville to team up with former SOS drummer Peter Reisner. †HYMNS† appear, superficially at least, to exist mainly for the purpose of poking fun at religion and promoting the godless lifestyle, both causes to which I will happily lend my support.

Their first release, a four-song live DVD, is scheduled for release on August 22 with a full-length album to follow in October. Here’s the video for the first studio recording, ‘A Punch to the Temple,’ a tight angular number with echoes of Modest Mouse and Nick Cave and a typically sardonic take on the politics of strangling people.

Hymns – A Punch To The Temple from Luke David Bather on Vimeo.

Apropos of yesterday’s finger-wagging blog, I should point it’s almost two years to the day since Thrice’s last album Beggars leaked almost three months before its scheduled release. Follow-up Major/Minor is penciled in for a September 20 release and has yet to leak – it’s almost as if leaks are bad for business!!

But no sooner have I opened that can of worms than I will slam it firmly shut.

For today saw the premiere of the delightfully-titled ‘Yellow Belly,’ the first single from Major/Minor. ‘Yellow Belly’ continues the group’s slide towards mainstream rock as featured on Beggars with more melody and lush layers, and less dissonance and abrasion.

As a lead single, it lacks the immediacy and distinctiveness of ‘All the World is Mad,’ opting instead for a Tom Morello-style stripped-down heavy metal riff. As the handy little Soundcloud visual demonstrates, it’s not a particular dynamic track, though the morose middle eight beginning around the 1:36 mark offers some degree of variety.

People like me will be hoping this is just fluff, and that the album proper veers more towards the Radiohead-inspired electronic tinkering of ‘Circles’ and ‘Doublespeak.’

Thrice – Yellow Belly by VagrantRecords

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 19, 2011. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

311 – Universal Pulse (ATO Records)
3 Doors Down – Time Of My Life (Republic)
40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room (Metal Blade Records)
Battlefield Band – Line-Up (Temple Records)
Big Talk – Big Talk (Epitaph)
Brilliant Colors – Again And Again (Slumberland Records)
Burlap To Cashmere – Burlap To Cashmere (Red Int/Red Ink)
Chelsea Grin – My Damnation (Razor & Tie)
Cold – Superfiction (Eleven Seven Music)
The Dangerous Summer – War Paint (Hopeless Records) – Davey Boy
Demonical – Death Infernal (Metal Blade Records)
Disma – Towards the Megalith (Profound Lore)
DJ Khaled – We the Best Forever (Cash Money)
Down to the Bone – Main Ingredients (TRIPPIN & RHYTHM)
Dying Fetus – History Repeats (Relapse Records)
Angela Easterling – Beguiler (De L’Est)
Fink – Perfect Darkness (Ninja Tune)
Darren Hanlon – I Will Love You At All (Yep Roc Records)
Iselia – Life From Dead Limbs (Self Released) – Adam Thomas
Stacey Kent – Hushabye Mountain (Candid)
Kottonmouth Kings – Sunshine Sessions (Suburban Noize)
Amy Lavere – Stranger Me (Archer Records)
The Living End – The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating (Dew Process)
Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days (Reprise)
George Lynch – Kill All Control (Rocket Science)
Mac Dre – Da Treasure (Thizz

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I know a lot of people around don’t believe me when I occasionally argue that leaks – and the culture whereby people think they’re entitled to all the free music they want – are bad for musicians so don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the head of a independent label that sinks all its money into promoting some of the most innovative hip hop and electronic music around.

It was with considerable disappointment that we learnt in the last week that two records we have been working on have been leaked, despite the use of watermarked CDs. Toddla T’s Watch Me Dance(Ninja Tune) and Thundercat’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder) were both leaked from copies sent to the journalist Benjamin Jager at the offices of Backspin magazine in Germany.

The availability of these records online for free has meant a rush release of the digital version of Toddla’s record, which, after the years of work put in, will seriously affect the ability to make any kind of financial return from commercial release. No one at the magazine has yet taken responsibility for uploading these records to the internet, but until the situation is resolved, we will no longer be servicing Backspin with promo copies. It’s very hard for young, up and coming artists to make a living from their music. People uploading their music months before it is commercially available are not doing them any favours.

Everybody has their own views on how music should…

Attach whatever tags please you, but Kashiwa Daisuke’s Program Music I stands as one of the previous decade’s must haves. A clear feature of tracks like Stella, April #02 and Write Once, Run Melos are their seeming limitless bounds, free running through magnificent and sprawling soundscapes. Yet his latest upcoming album, 88, marks an attempt to express himself utilizing the keys of a piano. Though talented as a composer, the shift towards minimalist instrumentation is likely to factor heavily into the album’s outcome. Early signs are, well, let us just leave that to Kashiwa himself to show.


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