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The Smiling Assassins aka F**k-Nuggets

 “F**k-Nuggets”. That is the first word that entered my head upon the elimination of Siobhan Magnus last night on Season-9 of American Idol. Why? Well, you know when you just have a feeling that something is going to happen at a certain time? Well, I superstitiously predicted this exact occurrence for this exact date. Call it pessimism, a lucky guess or a dreaded sense of fortune telling, but it sometimes is just the way things work. For you see, it is not the American public that I am calling “f**k-Nuggets” (although they have clearly played their part), it is 4 of those 5 d!ckheads currently smiling at you from your computer screens. 

 “But Davey, the judges liked Siobhan’s performance on Tuesday night and weren’t the ones who voted her off” I hear you exclaim. That is not my issue. My issue dates back 3 weeks ago to April-7, when Cowell & Co. inexplicably decided to use their ‘Save’ vote on Offensive Lineman Michael Lynche. For the uninitiated, the 4 judges have the ability to save a contestant who has just been eliminated. However, there are two huge catches: (1) They can only do this once, and (2) they could only do it up until the Top 5. So why in the hell they would choose to do this when a contestant was eliminated in 9th position is beyond me… A fact

Anthony Green’s backing band, Good Old War, are set to release their self-titled second album on June 1st.  The first single, “My Own Sinking Ship” is available for free download at digital.goodoldwar.com.  The Philadelphian trio plays a smooth folk reminiscent of a more worldly, less isolated Fleet Foxes, and “My Own Sinking Ship” is a promising preview of the group’s next effort.  Be sure to check out their split EP with Cast Spells, the side project of Dave Davison of Maps and Atlases, undoubtedly some of the group’s best work.

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Dutch DJ trio Noisia have long been fixtures in the drum ‘n bass scene, but new album Split The Atom is way too filthy for any one genre. Electro, house, breaks, dubstep; all and more are incorporated on the sickest party record of the new decade, and single “Machine Gun” is perhaps the best representation of this mish-mashing of styles. There are plenty of excellent remixes of the song as well (YouTube the 16Bit version if you don’t mind showering afterwards), but the original is still the most guaranteed to kick any party into high gear. Like if Darth Vader DJed a rave.

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Gold PandaJeremy Ferwerda stole my thunder last week by posting Gold Panda’s newest track “You” so I’m resorting to Gold Panda’s best track, “Quitter’s Raga.” This song pairs a simple, organic beat with detailed sampling work that taps into a set of Indian vocals and instruments with an IDM/glitch level of precision and volatility. Despite the technical wizardry in operation, the true pull of this song is its sticky sweet catchiness.

Gold Panda – “Quitter’s Raga”

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of April 27, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

1349 – Demonoir (Prosthetic Records)
65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway (Hassle Records) – Tyler Fisher
The Abominable Iron Sloth – The Id Will Overcome (Metal Blade)
Acid Tiger – Acid Tiger (Deathwish Inc)
Arma Gathas – Dead to This World (Metal Blade)
At the Soundawn – Shifting (LIFEFORCE RECORDS) – Trey Spencer
B.o.B. – B.o.B Presents: The Adventures Of Bobby Ray (Atlantic)
Bullet For My Valentine – Fever (Zomba/RED) – Trey Spencer
Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Ages Of Miracles (Zoe Records)
Miranda Cosgrove – Sparks Fly [Deluxe] (Columbia)
Discovery America – Future Paths (LUJO RECORDS)
DJ Kormac – Word Play (Scribble Records)
Drowning Pool – Drowning Pool (Eleven Seven Music)
Escape The Fate – This War Is Ours [2CD Deluxe Edition] (Epitaph)
Eisregen – Schlangensonne (Massacre Records)
Melissa Etheridge – Fearless Love (Island)
Peter Frampton – Thank You Mr Churchill (New Door Records)
Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle (Columbia/Dmz)
Hole – Nobody’s Daughter (Mercury Records)
KMFDM – Krieg (Metropolis Records) – Trey Spencer
Lali Puna – Our Inventions (Morr Music/M.M.)
Lonestar – Party Heard Around the World (Saguaro Road Records)
Mono – Holy Ground: NYC Live with Wordless Music Orchestra [CD/DVD & 3xLP] (Temporary Residence)
Mouth of the Architect – The Violence Beneath (TRANSLATION LOSS)
My Education…

“Havin’ My Baby” is absolutely exhausting. From that prolonged sample that plays it in, to the single keyboard note bashed for three entire minutes, it’s just relentless. Add Martin Cesar’s soulful delivery, the simple drum beat, and that ascending guitar wail and if you’re not left doing some sweaty rendition of the running man by the time the song comes to its close, nothing can save you. Think About Life’s Family may have been a hit-or-miss affair (a lesser Dear Science, in a lot of ways) but when it hits, it does so with such soaring electro-soul ingenuity that it becomes impossible to ignore.

You can listen to “Havin’ My Baby” below but god damnit you better be ready to get funky.

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matt berninger is heavily in debt

Well, since today is officially The National day, lets celebrate by recognizing one of the best tracks off High Violet. If you haven’t heard this yet, well, there’s little hope for you, but here’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” High Violet’s answer to “Mr. November.” Slightly subtler but no less nostalgically optimistic, “Bloodbuzz Ohio” serves as High Violet’s centerpiece, a middle of the album anthem that stands easily as the most single-ready song. Sure, most of you know this already and this might be redundant, but if you’re a National skeptic and don’t really know if you want to take the time to listen to what could easily be the indie rock record of 2010 (aka chambered89), give this song a shot then head on over to the stream going on at The New York Times and become a cool human being.

“Bloodbuzz Ohio”

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Photo courtesy of BrooklynVegan.com

Waking up from a generous two hours of sleep on Sunday didn’t really do wonders for my outlook on the day, and it was obvious from the moment I entered back onto the festival grounds that a lot of people felt the same way. The whole vibe on Sunday was entirely different from the rest of the festival, a feeling of comedown shaded with “I can’t believe this is almost over.” It was sort of depressing, but the lineup more than made up with it with more of my favorite bands than either of the two previous days.

I first proceeded to the Sahara to see English dubstep producer Rusko, despite my earlier promise that I couldn’t handle any more wobble in my life. Rusko has always been more accessible than the darker dubstep that many of his countrymen prefer, injecting elements of house and dance with an upbeat sound that had the mid-afternoon crowd shaking off any Tiesto hangover they might have brought along. Following that I hustled over to the Outdoor Stage to see a bit of Deerhunter’s trippy live act, a frenetic set unfortunately marred by numerous technical difficulties. Bradford Cox’s unveiling of a new Deerhunter song that name-dropped “Coachella 2010” in the chorus was the clear winner amongst the crowd.

Florence and the Machine had the Gobi tent packed far past capacity by the time the redheaded songstress finally made it on stage fifteen minutes past…

Woke up at seven in the morning, went to the communal showers at the campgrounds, finally succeeded in showering by 9:30. Did I mention camping was a terrible idea? Although I had marked down Portugal. The Man as my likely first set of the day, the intense heat at the campgrounds had me headed for any shade I could find at the festival. I decided to hit up Rx Bandits on Sputnik’s recommendation and was presently surprised – despite the rather small showing thanks to the early (12:30) set time, the band played their hearts out on the Outdoor Stage, causing a number of passerby to question who they were. The guitar dueling between Matt Embree and Steve Choi was a particular highlight, the group making a good case for a later time slot next year with a high-energy set that leaned heavily on the group’s newest album Mandala.

Portugal. The Man predictably tore it up over at the Gobi stage shortly after two, playing to a crowd that was already spilling far out of the tent by 2:30. The band was expansive and appropriately psychedelic in the desert heat, with frontman John Gourley leading the way with memorable guitar lines and a confident vocal performance that the crowd took to immediately. The best received were those off The Satanic Satanist, particularly the sing-a-longs of “The Sun” and “People Say,” and the feedback-drenched jam session that they closed with set the bar quite high for the…

Photo courtesy of Format Mag

Even several days after the end, it’s hard for me to talk about Coachella in very many concrete terms. I saw a lot of artists; I met a bunch of people and even more freakshows; I spent my nights and mornings in campgrounds that would have called for UNICEF intervention in a 3rd world country; my sobriety was tested early and often; and I had more fun than I ever would have expected possible in such a short period. Those are the facts as I can see them now, and I certainly have plenty of opinions below. But as a whole? Coachella is difficult to conceptualize and even harder to summarize, a three-day festival that transforms a white-collar polo field into a musical oasis under the blazing hot desert sun. There were really only three constants over the three days: heat, drugs, and music. I was ready for the first, unsurprised but a little shocked at the overwhelming prevalence of the second, and (for the most part) utterly floored by the latter. Coachella is an experience, and anyone who tries to describe it in words will be doing a disservice. It’s more than just who played what and how well they played it, but it’s also so evasive a feeling that it’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been there. So please, if you ever have a chance, be it to make it to Coachella or Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza…

Two weeks ago, Sharon Jones released her latest incredible soul album, I Learned the Hard Way, on Daptone Records.  The album is decidedly defiant and powerful, a certain step up from the already excellent 100 Days, 100 Nights.  The first single is the album’s title track, filled with funky grooves, dirty horn licks, and the vocal perfection we have come to expect from the group.  Jones’ vocal performance is particularly gripping–convincingly delivering her own version of “I Will Survive” by defying her lover and rising strong.  This album, along with the rest of the Dap-Kings’s discography, directly ports 60’s and 70’s funk music to the 21st Century and manages to sound just as good, if not better, than any George Clinton record.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – I Learned The Hard Way by sopedradamusical

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The Bronx

Call me old fashioned, but there are few things in this world better than a quality punk show. The two hour dance-a-thon of a Girl Talk gig comes close, and even then, that’s more of a having a chill time fun, not the shit yourself kind of adrenaline rush fun that was on display at the El Rey theater on April 20th. Fresh off of a world-wide touring haul, The Bronx, and their mariachi alter-egos Mariachi El Bronx, were finally back home in Los Angeles, and from the looks of things, they couldn’t have been happier. Joining the LA natives were Aussie grunge-fanatics Violent Soho and the eccentric rootsy blues of Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss.

Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss kicked off the night. As they took the stage one couldn’t help but be intrigued. Wheeler’s sharp get-up and life-worn face made him seem like a visage of a younger Tom Waits at first glance, and with his guitarist Schloss armed with a beaten twelve-string and hiding behind a veil of Jerry Garcia-esque facial hair, they ripped through set of country tinged acoustic numbers filled with stories about hard women and hard drinking. Wheeler’s voice was well suited for his worldly tales, but it was Schloss that stole the show; his old guitar belting out emotive blues progressions and twangy pentatonic runs.

Mariachi El Bronx were up next. Dressed in full costume, the LA punks’ playful homage to the Mexican heritage of their hometown was…

Five points from an outsider:

1) Logic would surely dictate that the standard of American Idol would be much better than that of its UK equivalents, The X Factor and Pop Idol. Roughly speaking, there are 309 million people in the US and just 60 million in the UK – surely a country with five times as many people will have five times as many brilliant singers, and ergo, would be five times as likely to have a seriously world-class talent? Apparently not; we shouldn’t forget that Leona Lewis was a complete fluke, but the fact remains that AI hasn’t even come close to producing anything on her level. Not even Kelly Clarkson is comparable; she survives by having great songwriters and producers, not a great voice. Even taking the average ability of the contestants into account, the only reason the US have the upper hand on the UK is because we, as a nation of cynical, hate-filled piss-takers, are obliged to field one complete joke every year. Take them out of the equation and we stack up. We probably shouldn’t.

2) I sure am thankful to be watching a singing competition that doesn’t have Jedward in it, mind.

3) What the hell is with all the guitars? Is there some sudden obsession with a pre-conceived notion ‘authenticity’ on this show, or has it always been this way? In the UK at least, the show has always been happy to embrace its gleefully vapid nature, but the US…

The way a new Caribou album always works, it should have been preceded by a “transitional record.”  In the time between Andorra’s baroque-pop and The Milk of Human Kindness’ neo-psych, continuity would tell us that this artist born Daniel Victor Snaith would need a few messy experiments before arriving at the airy wallop on 2007’s “Melody Day” from the overt DJ overtones on 2005’s “Pelican Narrows.”  I’d imagine there a few GBs worth of Caribou experiments, whole lost albums built up in practice, anticipating the final release to pull off another shape-shift.

To account for the last three years between Andorra and Swim, there are probably a few dance records taking up storage on a laptop somewhere as Caribou’s latest release hits stores today.  At first glance, Swim and first single “Odessa” appear to be skirting the trends that have prevailed into the new decade, slathering polyrhythms in swashes of color and sampled horns, undressing the flustered production that used to announce a Caribou track. But what initially comes off like a grasp at relevancy begins to reveal itself as a deconstruction of the dance tracks Caribou has been shoveling production onto for the last decade: “Odessa” takes a microscopic look at his usual flighty psychedelia and studies the obtuse, despairing beat that grounds it.  Add in impersonal lyrics detailing a woman leaving her man and “turning around the life she let him siphon away” and you have one twisted summer jam. The hardest part of breaking up is…

First of all, Happy Birthday to staff member John Hanson. In commemoration of this joyous event all of you should go post nice comments in his shoutbox.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of April 20, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Airbourne – No Guts. No Glory. (Roadrunner Records) – Davey Boy
Anacrusis – Hindsight Vol. 1: Suffering Hour Revisited [Digital Only] (Self Released)
Anacrusis – Hindsight Vol 2: Reason Revisited [Digital Only] (Self Released) – Trey Spencer
Anacrusis – Hindsight: Suffering Hour and Reason Revisited [2-Disc Physical/Digital Release] (Self Released)
Anarbos – Words You Don’t Swallow (Hopeless Records)
The Apples In Stereo – Travellers In Space and Time (Yep Roc Records) – Rudy Klapper
Aqualung – Magnetic North (Verve Forecast)
At the Gates – The Flames of the End [3-DVD Set] (Earache Records)
Candlemass – Ashes To Ashes {EU} [DVD] (Nuclear Blast Records)
Caribou – Swim (Merge Records)
Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise (Atlantic) – Channing Freeman
Cornershop – Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast (Ample Play Records)
Cypress Hill – Rise Up (Priority Records)
The Destiny Program – Gathas (Bastartized Recordings)
Dr. Acula – The Social Event Of The Century (Uprising Records)
Roky Erickson – True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-)
Everest – On Approach (Vapor Records)
Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human…

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