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Last week we enjoyed the ghostly pull of Bone Thugs n’ Harmony. This week I wanted to return to the world of grunge and shine some light on an amazing one-hit wonder, Candlebox. Their magnum opus “Far Behind” takes pleasure in stark but simple observations, like rhyming the words “bad” and “sad.” This song appears to be about the difficulties of heroin addiction, but it also might be about the difficulty of making good splatter paintings in an empty room in an abandoned house. Big love goes out to Candlebox randomly including the E7#9 made famous by Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” in that bridge at the end of the song.

Now maybe
I didn’t mean to treat you bad
But I did it anyway
And then maybe
Some would say your life was sad
But you lived it anyway
And so maybe
Your friends they stand around they watch you crumble
As you falter down to the ground
And then someday
Your friends they stand beside as you were flying
Oh you were flying oh so high
But then someday people look at you for what they call their own
They watch you suffer
Yeah they hear you calling home
And then some day we could take our time
To brush the leaves aside so you can reach us
But you left me far behind

Now maybe

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There’s something so entrancing about the grimy heart of downtown Los Angeles. The old, art deco theaters converted into pawn shops and jewelry exchanges, the frames of the high-rises blocking out any of the remaining evening sunlight, and if you’re anywhere more than a two blocks away from the Staples Center and LA Live how even the fast food restaurants shut down early due to the city’s overall shadiness. In this run down and burnt out shell of a bustling metropolis lies the Mayan Theater. Despite lying in the heart of what is essentially a slum, the Mayan is Los Angeles’ most architecturally stunning venue, featuring hand carved walls and supports that make visitors feel like they’ve stepped into the Temple of Doom, not to mention it also houses the biggest god damn disco ball I have ever seen over its stage. Last night Minus the Bear owned it. Having sold out the 1500 seat venue, they were joined by indie-pop upstarts Young the Giant and bluesy alt-rockers Everest.

Young the Giant started things off. With the crowd still filling in, they played a rather entertaining set full of jangly tunes that came off sounding like a slightly less adventurous version of The Dodos. Once the crowd, an awkward and segregated mix of NPR types and teenage scenesters, warmed up to them they fed off of the audience’s applause, making the final half of their set more lively than the first. Everest on the other hand, while good…

With Chamberlain Waits, one of 2010’s early punk standouts, The Menzingers have garnered comparisons to melodic punk heavyweights The Lawrence Arms and Sink or Swim-era The Gaslight Anthem, and rightfully so, as their sound seems to fall perfectly between the two. “Time Tables” is the stand out off their sophomore album and if there ever was a criteria to writing a fun punk song, they’ve got most of the boxes checked: harsh/melodic vocal trade offs, uptempo riffs, nostalgic/relatable lyrics, and sing-a-long gang vocals come together in what is surely one of the best punk songs 2010 will offer.

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I would have loved to post some Janelle Monae here today, but such is the excitement around her outstanding new album that I’ve been beaten to it. Luckily, one of dubstep’s kings of utter filth has just premièred his latest sonic assault.

Diving further into the gutter than even last year’s Choke on Coke EP (and its delightfully tasteful artwork), “Disturbed” is just that. The bassline on this track isn’t even a bassline – it sound like more like the growling, gaping jaws of a demon-possessed monster of the kind John Carpenter might fantasize about in a particularly twisted moment. Hell, one of the top rated YouTube comments on the track insists that it’s ‘dirtier than Bin Laden’s wank flannel‘ – do you need a higher recommendation that that?

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Even without Big Boi, who guests on Janelle Monae’s new single from her album The Archandroid, Monae performed a ridiculously awesome rendition of “Tightrope” last night on Letterman. The performance included costume changes, an awesomely synchronized guitar and bass duo, and incredible presence from Monae herself. Say what you will about her hairstyle, but she’s bold and ready to make a huge splash in the pop world.

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Last night, ABC aired the penultimate episode for the TV drama Lost and with the finale coming up this Sunday, May 23, I thought it would be a great time to commemorate a show that was excellent in all fields, not just direction, acting, and writing, but also in music. Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy winner (just a Tony short of an EGOT) Michael Giacchino composed and arranged all the music for the show and his extensive use of leitmotifs helps shape the emotional backbone of the show: the character relations. A criticism shared by fans and critics is that the writing these nuanced relationships tend to be neglected among the madness and bliss of exploring time travel and reincarnations. As a result the grounding and moving effect provided by the scoring has needed to be that much more masterful. Looking at any individual character’s theme music confirms and cements character progressions that the show has developed over the past six years and maybe reveals secrets as to how character storylines will resolve in the final episode.

Warning: Spoilers

John Locke


When we first meet John Locke he is a mysterious figure, sporting a collection of knives and an understanding of stalking and killing boar, but as we delve into his past we see him as an emotionally fractured and physically crippled man yearning for love, normalcy, and redemption. This duality is given two distinct leitmotifs.

Locke’s mystery theme

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I’ve always had a soft spot for The Killer’s Hot Fuss. That’s why I was excited to hear “Easy Answers”. Tapping into the same electro-pop vein as the Las Vegas quartet’s debut, Paul Bethers’ new single rides a towering wave of pulsating synths and anthemic vocals to create an infectious sing-a-long vibe. With summer right around the corner, “Easy Answers” is bound to get a good work out in your car stereo.

Paul Bethers – Easy Answers

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“Keep Your Eyes on the Road” is the first single from Paul Marshall’s new project, Lone Wolf, and serves to introduce the new project as the new face of Paul Marshall (mustache included!) with the accompanying music video. Marshall pays tribute to one of his musical influences, Peter Gabriel, by making the video a tribute to Gabriel’s 1987 music video “Sledgehammer.” The stop action animation mixed with claymation creates a tripped-out Fantastic Mr. Fox atmosphere, and manages to both emote Marshall’s lyrics and pay direct tribute to the animators of Gabriel’s team. According to Lone Wolf’s label, Bella Union, Gabriel and the animation team have “seen and approved” the video. The music is equally as impressive, demonstrating Marshall’s ability to take what could have been a great acoustic folk song and expand it into a fuller statement.

Lone Wolf – Keep Your Eyes On The Road from Bella Union on Vimeo.

For reference, here is Peter Gabriel’s original video:

Read the full review of Lone Wolf’s album, The Devil and I, here

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of May 18, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Annihilator – Annihilator (Indie Europe/Zoom)
Bad Religion – 30 Years Live (Epitaph Records) – Trey Spencer
Band of Horses – Infinite Arms (Columbia)
Bo Bice – 3 (Saguaro Road Records)
The Black Keys – Brothers (Nonesuch)
Celeste – Morte(s) Nee(s) (Denovali)
Century Media Records – 20 Years of Century Media Volume One (‘91-’95) (Century Media)
Club 8 – The People’s Record (Labrador Sweden)
Corruption – Bourbon River Bank (MYSTIC PRODUCTION)
Cynic – Re-Traced [EP] (Season of Mist)
The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth (Kanine Records)
The Dream – Love King (Def Jam)
Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition (Nuclear Blast)
Mary Gauthier – The Foundling (Razor & Tie)
Glee Cast – Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers (Columbia)
God Is An Astronaut – Age of the Fifth Sun (Revive Records)
Guilty Simpson – OJ Simpson (Stones Throw)
Harvey Milk – A Small Turn of Human Kindness (Hydra Head Records) – Cam
Hammock – Chasing After Shadows… (+1 Records)
Heaven Shall Burn – Invictus {EU} (Century Media Records)
Hot Tuna – Live at the New Orleans House Berkeley Ca Sept 69 (Collector’s Choice Live)
Iced Earth – Box of the Wicked [5-Disc Box set] (Steamhammer)
Klone – Black Days (Season of Mist)
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA/Virgin)

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Remember Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2? As a 14-year old kid interested in skateboarding, videogames, and pop punk, this was pretty much it. This game was my introduction to a number of great artists including Millencolin, Consumed, and Lagwagon. My favorite track on the album was “May 16″ and I always try to make a silly point of listening to it today. My summer break after this game came out consisted almost exclusively of laughing at the ridiculous game physics, teaching myself punk songs on guitar, and getting injured trying out tricks on a home made half pipe (with maybe two inches of actual vert). I hope it invokes the same kind of nostalgia in you that it does for me.

Lagwagon – “May 16″

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If you’ve read my reviews for Pavement’s Quarantine The Past or Malkmus’ solo album Real Emotional Trash, it’s really no secret that I adore the band. Unfortunately, I was 9 years old when Pavement broke up and at the time probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought, if I had even known. I was 9, I didn’t listen to music and I sure as shit didn’t care about some awkward indie band. I grew to care, though. A lot. Fast forward to adolescent me, trapped somewhere between overlapping fashion trends and habitual mood changes, and the demise of Malkmus, Kannberg, and co. was suddenly a big deal, regardless of how late I’d arrived to the party. Total bummer. What was left for me? Over time I’d learn every word to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, spend lazy Sunday afternoons pouring over special editions of Slanted and Enchanted and Wowee Zowee, and hell, I discovered The Fall simply because Mark E. Smith once contemptuously remarked of the band: “It’s just The Fall in 1985, isn’t it? They haven’t got an original idea in their heads”.

But, obviously, I wouldn’t be writing this if things had stayed that way. No, our old friends decided to give this whole touring business another go, no less than a decade after they originally called it quits and I was there to witness the conclusion of a 4-day run of sets at the O2 Academy Brixton. To warrant four back-to-back shows in such a high…

If there’s a band that better embodies summer than Philadelphia-based five-piece Free Energy, I haven’t found it. Driving with the windows open, hitting up the beach, lazing away on the couch with absolutely nothing to do or plan other than doing whatever the hell you want – summer is just as much a feeling as it is a season. And Free Energy’s superb debut, Stuck on Nothing, encapsulates that indescribable sense of freedom better than anything I’ve heard all year. Summer’s here: don’t let it go to waste.

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It’s a funny subplot in popular music’s history that a friend of mine pointed out in a conversation a couple of years ago; the most timeless, interesting music always tends to happen at the tail-end of a decade. He was pointing out how crazy the music industry went in the late ’90s, and how bands like Superchunk had unbelievable and hilarious amounts of money thrown at them, and bands as obviously offputting and angular as Placebo could become superstars, but it extrapolates across the decades; in lists like Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time, Sputnik’s own user-voted all-time chart, and the Top 3000 albums on Acclaimed Music, there’s a real swing toward records that arrived in the latter half of their decades. On Acclaimed Music, it’s only 5 of the top 20 and and just 17 of the top 50 that represent the first half. Look at the best-selling albums of all time on a worldwide level, and you’ll see that of the 20 studio albums to have solid more than 30 million copies, only 6 have a year ending in a number lower than 4. Where it should be half, it’s nearer to a quarter.

The one obvious explanation is that both musicians and labels – not to mention the media – are always eager to fashion out an identity that will define the decade, leading to a mad scramble of anything-goes creativity as people spend two or three years looking for the next big…

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Another season of American Idol is coming to an end kiddies, so get ready to start dialing and sending your parents phone bill into the stratosphere. Now we all know what happened last season; the most interesting, talented, entertaining and hardest working contestant (Adam Lambert) fell at the last hurdle… To a rival (Kris Allen) who was lucky to even make the top 5 in most people’s opinion. Well folks, it could happen again if you don’t get dialing and sms’ing. Of course, that’s easy for me to say when I live thousands of miles away and am ineligible to vote. 

The last couple of weeks of action have seen series favorite Crystal Bowersox come back to the pack a little. Yet, I actually think that her performances – while not being as memorable as on earlier weeks – have better shown her versatility as an artist. She has taken some risks and, while she has yet to hit the home run that would have sewn the series up, Crystal has proven that she could actually make an album where she didn’t just play the same song over and over again.

Since Siobhan’s ridiculous elimination (allegedly not helped by facebook not having the correct number next to her name), the last fortnight has seen both little Aaron & big Mike eliminated. Neither were real chances to win, but Aaron can definitely count himself unlucky since he was shown the door on the night where each contestant had…

Jadea Kelly is perhaps best known our readers as the voice of Kezia on Protest the Hero’s 2005 album of the same name, but in the ever-expanding Toronto roots music scene her work with the progressive metal outfit is little more than the prologue to her ever-growing solo career.

Eastbound Platform, Kelly’s second album, was released two weeks ago to the day and has already been met with positive reviews from Exclaim! Magazine and CBC Radio—expect SputnikMusic to join these ranks shortly. Praises of her work is warranted, as the album shows the evolution of a once nervous performer who—in her on stage debuts with Protest the Hero—occasionally struggled to find her voice in the band’s often boisterous, hairy-chested performances. Nervous no longer, Jadea has taken takes her soft spoken demeanour and turned it into the quiet confidence of an artist who now bleeds self-assurance (although not literally, I’m sure).

“Never Coming Back” is the lead track off of Eastbound Platform and features a uniquely groove-laden take on a traditional country rock track. On top of Jadea’s stated vocal performance, make note of the interplay between the bass’s walking plod and shifting guitar lines, all of which climax in the tracks’ wind-swept refrain. Listen to the track below.

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