I’ll say the same thing about ‘Pink Rabbits’ that I said about ‘Conversation 16’ back in 2010: if you still haven’t heard The National’s best song to date, then you are depriving yourself of the year’s best moment. It seems like every time this band puts out an album, there is one track on it that is arguably better than anything else released within the same 365 days: ‘Mr. November’, ‘Apartment Story’, ‘Conversation 16’…and now, ‘Pink Rabbits.’ What all these songs have in common is accessibility, propelled by underlying emotional turmoil that prevents them from sounding watered down. I would say that’s their formula, or something else intelligent-sounding, but honestly The National just do whatever the fuck they want and excel at it with relative ease.
Here, they go the route of the sedated pop ballad. The song is so perfectly constructed that it doesn’t matter what Matt Berninger is singing about, but as usual, he has paired top-of-the-line musicianship with phenomenal lyrics. The meaning of the song is somewhat ambiguous, especially when it comes to determining whether it was written from the perspective of a guy – “I’m so surprised you want to dance with me now, you always said I held you way too high off the ground” – or from a girl – “You didn’t see me I was falling apart, I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park”, but either way it’s ridiculously poignant. From the guy’s perspective, I can’t…
Welcome to Sputnik’s Second Infinite Playlist of 2013. Here you can look through some of the finest tracks of the past 3 months, as selected by the users of the site, and find some of the best music you might’ve missed this year.
Elena Tonra’s haunting, Florence Welch-esque vocals and heartbreaking lyrics pervade this lovely track from Daughter’s album If You Leave. As my favourite song from their 2011 EP The Wild Youth, I was expecting (and hoping for) a carbon copy of the song on the album. Whilst the LP version isn’t as intimate, the thumping drums and ethereal guitars transform the song into a different beast entirely. Some may feel the lyrics are treading a very fine line between genuine and cliché, but I reckon they fall just on the right side of that line. This track is well worth checking out, and gives a great indication of what you can expect from the rest of the album.
Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 16, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.
ASC – Time Heals All (Silent Season)
Born Without Bones – Baby (Born Without Bones/Bandcamp)
Beach – In Us We Trust (Short Story Records)
Calibre (being released under Dominick Martin) – Valentia (Signature Recordings)
Call It Closure – Holotype (Call It Closure)
Candice Glover – Music Speaks (Interscope Records)
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – White Teeth, Black Thought (Cherry Poppin’ Daddies)
Court Yard Hounds – Amelita (Columbia)
David Lynch – The Big Dream (Sacred Bones Records)
Defeater – Letters Home (Bridge Nine Records)
Desert Stars – Habit Shackles (Desert Stars)
Evan Brewer – Your Itinerary (Sumerian)
Gauntlet Hair – Stills (Dead Oceans)
King Conquer – 1776 (Mediaskare)
Mayer Hawthorne – Where Does This Door Go (Universal Republic)
Patrick Sweany – Close To The Floor (Nine Mile Records)
Pet Shop Boys – Electric (Kobalt)
Robert Randolph & The Family Band – Lickety Split (Blue Note)
Sara Bareilles – The Blessed Unrest (Epic)
Sarah Miles – One (Rock Ridge Music)
Soft Metals – Lenses (Captured Tracks)
Tallhart – We Are The Same (Equal Vision Records)
The second full-length record from French metallic noise rockers Sofy Major, Idolize, is a testament to the trio’s perseverance. On October 29th, hurricane Sandy destroyed the Brooklyn studio in which the outfit was going to track, annihilating all the recording equipment and instruments. After a couple of days they luckily managed to start recording with the invaluable help of producer Andrew Schneider and Dave Curran of Unsane’s fame. The result is an aptly furious endeavour that encapsulates the feeling of powerlessness really well. Full of pummeling bass lines, dense drumming and sludgy riffs, this record is at once unabashedly groovy and punishing, showcasing the trio’s knack for crafting off-kilter noise rock that doesn’t steer clear of unexpected flourishes. Idolize is streaming over at Sofy Major’s bandcamp page.
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…