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.
Today was a proud, proud day in the world of journalism for so many reasons, but the one posterity will remember is the closure of Britain’s News of the World Sunday newspaper after 168 years of proud dedication to the art of photographing tits and drunk celebrities outside London nightclubs.
All 200+ staff at the London office have been laid off (those in the Dublin office technically they’ve been given 90 days “gardening leave”) and the NotW will be replaced by a Sunday edition of the equally upstanding Sun newspaper. Presumably some of the staff will be redeployed, but certainly not all, and many fine journalists will find themselves out of work while former editor Rebekah Brooks keeps her post at News International.
People say it’s difficult to have much sympathy for News of the World journalists, and to a point it’s true, but beneath the sickening phone-hacking scandal and the brain-deadening “social diaries” there was an excellent team of sports journalists, sub-editors and administrative staff who face an uncertain future while their sleazy overlords scramble to preserve their own reptilian skins. Still, nobody likes a tabloid hack and, for that alone, we give to you The Wildhearts and ‘News of the World’ from their epic 1994 album Earth vs. the Wildhearts.
40 years gone, the legend of Jim Morrison has long since superseded the man himself to the point where clueless music journalists feel free to refer to his death as his “breaking on through to the other side,” a lyrical nod to the Doors’ 1967 classic single.
Such dimwitted tributes are, sadly, common currency. The image of the rebellious rocker valiantly passing over to the “other side” is a far more romantic notion than what occurred in reality (or at least in probability, as no autopsy was ever performed): Morrison and his junkie girlfriend took a suicidal cocktail of drugs overnight, leading the singer to vomit up his internal organs before slowly, and painfully, meeting his end in a Parisian bathtub.
The romantic image of Morrison is made even cuter due to the fact that he, by all accounts, was a misogynistic dog who’d fuck anything that walked on two legs, or maybe even three. Yet that’s what made him such a compelling figure: as a man, he was stirringly, disarmingly handsome and as a songwriter he was deceptively accomplished. He was the rock n’ roll ideal: irresistible and prodigiously talented.
While the abiding sonic image of the Doors as a group might be their longer, more psyched-up pieces, ‘Light my Fire’ was Robby Krieger’s baby and was driven by Ray Manzarek’s iconic keyboard melody. What Morrison brought to the party was a manic, almost primal energy, best exemplified by that distinctive guttural roar – he was in many…
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.
A major similarity can be drawn between the works of Cormac McCarthy and the relationship between Dan Barrett’s Giles Corey book and album. Cormac McCarthy has always been a good enough writer that it was never really necessary for him to do anything different, but as the years wore on his books became a bit more streamlined and easier to read, as if the dross of pretension was smelted away leaving pithy wisdom and a fine sense of humor. His earlier novels plumbed deep into the human psyche and extracted dark things while his later works – starting with the Border Trilogy – are mostly about the good in people. Even No Country For Old Men, whose most memorable character is a representation of pure evil, is more about goodness and honesty than anything else. Someone like Anton Chigurh only serves to make the goodness more apparent. When you read his later works, you realize that that was his theme all along, no matter how he approached it. You could put his later works and his earlier works side by side and try to contrast them but eventually you’d have to just put them all together.
The release of Dan Barrett’s book and album is similar, the obvious and key difference being that they are inherently the same work presented in two ways. Attempts to separate them to decide which is more effective are ultimately pointless, as they are most effective when combined. The album is a…
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.