Dirty Heads’ “Cabin by the Sea”

Dirty Heads
Cabin by the Sea
Release Date: 6/19/2012

http://www.dirtyheads.com/
Dirty Heads Cabin by the Sea CoverI usually shy away from album reviews but when I opened the FedEx package on my doorstep and found the new Dirty Heads album complete with promotional rolling papers presumably to accompany the album, I decided to take a second look because obviously this was intended to take my worries away and make everyone feel great.

In 2008 The Dirty Heads splashed onto the music scene with their debut album Any Port in a Storm, this year, on June 19, 2012, they will follow up with their long-awaited album Cabin by the Sea. Cabin is a true master class that sticks to the So-Cal alternative rocker vibe that The Dirty Heads are known for. When popping the disc in the dash of the car the first chord of “Arrival instantly enthralls you and throws you into the cabin by the sea with a group of friends enjoying life the way it was intended to be. The song that really struck a chord with me was “Spread Too Thin” because I think everyone can relate to being pulled in many directions every day and wanting to just slow down  for a minute and this album allows you to take a break and do just that. Cabin is the perfect summer album; it ranges from that summery feel-good reggae like the song “Your Love,” to the hip-hop vibe in “Smoke Rings,” and some poppy acoustic in the title song Cabin by the Sea, which is perfect for the sunny summer.

I personally love Cabin by the Sea, every time I listen to this album it takes me away from the daily grind and monotony. There are many collaborations in this album with the likes of features collaborations with Matisyahu, Del the Funky Homosapien, Rome, and Ky-ManiMarley. One of the coolest parts of this album is the DVD that came in the package. The DVD takes you behind the scenes in the process of the day-to-day for the two week recording process at Sonic Ranch Studios in Texas. Cabin by the Sea is a must have for the summer and it hits the shelves on June 19.

http://www.dirtyheads.com
http://www.myspace.com/dirtyheads
http://www.twitter.com/dirtyheads
http://www.twitter.com/jaredwatsondh
http://www.twitter.com/DuddyB

United Brad Stands

BRAD
United We Stand
Razor & Tie
Release: 24 April 2012


Brad celebrates their 20th year as a band, and releases their 5th album this month. Brad began as the side project for members Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Regan Hagar (Satchel and formerly a member of Malfunkshun), Shawn Smith (also a member of Pigeonhed and Satchel), and Jeremy Toback. Brad is a Seattle band from the 90s which includes one of the founding members of Pearl Jam, the fathers of the grunge sound, yet their music is more chill and psychedelic. For someone who can very rarely relax, I have trouble understanding these jams. If I still hit the hash pipe, it may help. Though I have to admit that Shawn Smith’s lead vocals are beautiful on “Make the Pain go away” the rest of the tracks leave me confused.. I just don’t get it. Although by the sounds of the jam session album the boys are so chilled out, I don’t think they care if I’m grooovin or not, because they sure are regardless. If you already like Brad, or the guys other full time bands give it a listen, you should love it as the sound seems consistent with previous works. Regardless, give “Make the Pain go away” a spin, it will (cliche enough) take some pain away, for sure.

Jon McLaughlin Makes Promises

Jon McLaughlin
Promising Promises
Razor & Tie
Release: 22 May 2012

In September of last year Jon McLaughlin released his album Forever if Ever. On May 22nd he will release an updated and remixed/remastered version of that album along with new artwork and packagin. Jon has also included three new singles for his fans. One of the new singles can be heard below, the album’s first single, “Summer Is Over” featuring Sara Bareilles is on sale now –Buy HERE and Listen HERE.

* Look out for the title track “I’ll follow you”, it’s enough to make most tough guys well up, myself included.

Dar Williams, the Other Folk Meat!

Dar Williams
In The Time of Gods
Razor & Tie
Release: 17 April 2012

Dar Williams has always been a household name growing up on the East Coast. She’s notably a talented singer songwriter whom I… never paid a single ounce of mind to, for no justifiable reason. I guess when I wanted folk music, I went to Ani DiFranco and never looked any further. I think that “go to” has happened to many of us, but tonight I listened to a Dar Williams album in it’s entirely, a few times actually.

First off I will admit this isn’t my first choice in music anymore, yet I found myself in a somber place in life tonight and the album greeted me with open arms. Dar writes beautiful songs. She has a beautiful voice and writes beautiful lyrics. If you listen to her music, I can’t imagine this album would be anything but a satisfying add to your collection of her albums. For a non listener such as myself, I am going to take away this stand out track: “I will free myself”. Next Tuesday when this album drops I ask you to listen carefully to this aforementioned track. I have played it about 10 times so far. Each time as soon as I hear the opening notes, chords, and vocals they force me to pause: and listen. Maybe it’s my situation, or maybe Dar has just been this good all along and this is what you miss when you focus on that one artist that’s gets you by with what you already know. Makes me grateful to always expand my focus.

Monica, New Life, Same Sound.

Monica
New Life
RCA
April 10, 2012

I will give credit where it’s due. When I was in 8th grade Monica’s first singles “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” and “Before You Walk out of My Life” were my jams. Then when Monica did that duet with Brandy talking about “The Boy is Mine” by that point I was a junior in high school and we all thought we were bad ass playing that song on each other’s answering machine’s. (If you were really cool your pager had an answering machine.) Monica could sing, she was cute with her overalls, and we related to her music. We were teenagers. We grew up. Unfortunately, her music did not.

Monica released her seventh studio album today, also you can now purchase vanilla ice cream at your local grochery store. Doesn’t sound very exciting does it? Vanilla Ice Cream, that’s what Monica has become to me over the years. You see vanilla ice cream is fine, I mean who doesn’t like ice cream, it has all of the qualities there that should make it really good, hell it’s ice cream, and if you pair it with something like apple pie then it get’s better. Yet you would prefer something with Caramel running through it wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you prefer to listen to Mary J. Blidge? Doesn’t Monica sound better when you pair her with Brandy? Do you want to listen to another album of Monica’s where it’s all just FINE.If the answer is no, then you just go ahead and skip this album too.

Thanks to her first album and those songs I loved as a kid, Monica’s net worth is around the total of $15 Million US dollars. Tell me why she can’t buy a good song? The album is wonderfully produced, with all the production stars in today’s game that you know, or should, since they make all of today’s hits. Rico Love, Polow da Don,Salaam Remi, even damn Missy Elliott can’t save Monica from making 12 more filler tracks that you can easily live without. What’s the issue? Monica can sing her ass off, she is gorgeous as ever, the beats are decent, the production is good, yet the lyrics fail almost immediately being completely expected, or embarssing (“Log off your facebook it all belongs to me”). Most of the Album’s topics have been exhausted in pop music in the last ten years, even by Monica herself. If you are going to rehash topics of self empowerment, love, and growth you really have to have something bold to back it all up. What we needed was a drastic new sound that recreated Monica in a fresh new way, something with today’s sound vs. 1995. It feels like she keeps painstakingly trying to recreate her first few big hits, even going so far as to have another duet with Brandy, trying to force the magic to happen again. Those overalls, the mid 90′s, being 14 with two top 10 singles: Magic. Being 31 and not having a big hit since, 5 albums later? Time to call in the heavy hitters dear.. New Life? Next time you need a new sound.

What a comic should sound like?

Geoff Barrow has always made wonderful instrumental music for Beth Gibbons to swoon over. On his new venture alongside Ben Salisbury he has made 19 tracks sans Beth and the clan. Ben and Geoff get together on this album and created all of these tracks keeping instead a comic book in mind, the Judge Dredd comic in particular. The end result is Ben and Geoff’s vision of what “Mega City One” (depicted in the comics) may actually sound like, and I must say it’s a bit creepy. Having never read these particular comics the boys aural exudes suggest a ghost town teetering on the edge of something very peculiar happening very soon. Geoff was a pioneer and founding member in the beloved band Portishead, so unsurprisingly this album has fleeting moments of the same sounds where you can imagine Beth’s voice sweeping in, although for a PHead fan there aren’t nearly enough of these to keep you entertained.

Clearly this was a fun side project for Barrow during off time from Portishead, Anika, and other tinkering projects that keep him busy. Yet except for the track “End Them” none of the tracks feel as though they are full songs. The “songs” feel more like raw interludes for scenes in a horror film, or samples to use for films, none of it feels like when you sit down and listen to a Nine Inch Nails instrumental for example. It’s just a bit of anxiety inducing shuffle music that would work wonderfully in a slicer scene in your next summer slasher film. Yet somehow.. I think this was the exact sound they were going for, this may be exactly what Mega City One is supposed to sound like.

Liam, Who?

Noel Gallaher
High Flying Birds
Released: 8 November 2011
Label: Sour Mash

Oasis.
The word in the UK makes music folks get mushy and gather flags to wave. They are the official poster boys of Glastonbury Music Festival and whilst there, after a few ciders, you too against all your good restraints will be swinging with your mate sobbing “you’reeeeee my wondderwalllllll”.

The Gallaher brothers didn’t have the insane appeal here in the US as they did in their homeland. Yeah we like them, yeah we know some songs, but once you have seen the boys over there you realize they are to England what Kylie is as Britian’s Madonna. The Gallaher brothers more importantly have this effect on each other though that has notoriously shaped the face of the band and again they are, no more. In the last years they have sued each other, cracked guitars over each other and smacked each other with chairs. All while one brother insisted that his niece came to be born from his brother’s wife cheating on him. All of this sounds like an American family Thanksgiving – or the making of a great punk album, but instead again, it was the end, and for real this time.

Noel went solo. Noel has written all of the Oasis songs you know that get stuck in your head anyway. Now, he has now made a ten track solo album that people in the UK are loving, and people in the states are ignoring. At the first few listens of the album, I wasn’t impressed. I obviously felt something was missing, and I wasn’t a big Oasis fan to begin with but still, it wasn’t reaching me. Then just before I finally penned this review I came across this beautiful visual and I fell in love with the songs after they were delivered to me in their correct form.

I now almost hate to say how much I love the songs, which you can almost hear the entire album in the above visual link. Above all I am ashamed at how much I am in love with the following cheesy line from the song “If I had a gun”..

“..Excuse me if I spoke too soon, my eyes have always followed you around the room
cause you’re the only god that I will ever need..”

May Noel help you find your mush as well and prove to you that his brother may be the rock star, but he has always been the soul behind the band.

Common – The Dream Killer

Common
The Dreamer/The Believer
Released: December 20, 2011
Label: Warner Bros.
Stand Out Track: Ghetto Dreams

The follow up to Common’s 2008 record Universal Mind Control is here, released just before Christma$ for everyone’s stocking. While the album is lyrically better than Common’s latest works (Better than Finding Forever, Not better than 2005′s Be), it ultimately leaves me pissed off at Lonnie again.

Common is a racist. I’m a white chick who loves hip hop, and so things are not really working out for us. Common was one of the first brothers I had a lil’ crush on. Then I met him and he was a vile racist in person. He makes it really hard to love him and overlook these character flaws that make him the furthest thing from sexy..Why mention this? Because in 2012 this crap is still happening, by an open minded “conscious” rapper.

It’s nothing new, Common really came out the gate spitting this ignorant shit, it’s just gotten harder for me to swallow due to it’s consistency which overshadows his lyrical talents, and as a profoundly smart man, approaching 40 years old – it boggles my mind that he hasn’t grown out of this nasty circumstance. Afrocentric, cool, do you, but how you can tell me what is wrong, and what is and isn’t love?

1994
Resurrection Album – “In My Own World (Check the Method)”
It’s a Jungle out there but I’m never Fever-in for them white hoes
I love black thighs, you sisters better realize

2005
Be – “Real People”
This album is a complete gem, but then there is this:
“Black men walking wit white girls on they arms, I be mad at em as if I know they moms
Told to go beyond the surface, a person’s a person, When we lessen our women our condition seems to worsen.”

Common’s racist opposition to mixed race relations goes beyond a crude song lyric. He not only opposes the mixing of the races, he sees women outside his race as nothing more than objects of personal sexual gratification. From a 2005 interview:

COMMON: I don’t think there’s anything the matter with somebody loving somebody from another race but it’s almost like a stereotype that if you’ve got dreadlocks you go out with a white girl. just feel like, as black men, we do have to be aware that, yo, every time we step out with some woman it’s setting an example for our daughters and it’s also representing something for our mothers. If you can’t really love your own, how can you really love others?

TOUCH: So you don’t agree with mixed race relationships?
COMMON: I disagree with them. It’s a lack of self-love. It’s a problem.

TOUCH: Have you ever dated outside your race?
COMMON: Nah, not dated [giggles].

TOUCH: Have you slept with anybody outside your race?
COMMON: Yeah, I definitely have.

So white women are good enough to sleep with, only. Not to be seen in public with, not to procreate with, not to love. What karma is going to do to Common is this; His little pre-teen daughter is going to end up haphazardly loving a white boy and then he’s going to have to face this racism once and for all. True story, I know it because I live it as we speak. I am the better half of a wonderful 5 year and running interracial relationship. Common (the all judging father) would snear at me for this, and my racist family also drags their feet to accept it. Yet, while Common would judge me, and look down on my children, Common loves his Chicago brother Barack Obama – a man of mixed race himself. Common Sense, a living breathing contradiction.

Here we are in 2012.
What does Common have to say about it?
On the track “Gold”
“I write it and still get invited to white Christmases”

No Motherfucker. Not this cracker honkey’s Christmas. You are like, so, OMG uninvited.

The album is better then the radio hip hop trash, but still not Common’s best work. With each year that passes he get’s further and further away from the capability to reproduce classic hits like “I used to love H.E.R“, “Heat“, “The Light” etc etc. Personally I have grown tired of having to face disses about my race, and racial insults that hit home on every single Common album that at this point, I am officially retiring as a listener of his music, entirely. Music is an escape, and if you are providing as much tension and malcontent as a judgmental family member then you are obviously going to lose fans. LL Cool J talks about spending nights in “Trump Towers with a blue eyed blonde” and you don’t hear Jay-Z talking shit about anyone’s preferences, as much he calls people out, it’s still done in a mindful way not to step on people’s toes. This is called “how to achieve platinum status”.

A prime example:

From Jay-Z’s track “Moment of Clarity”
“Truthfully – I wanna rhyme like Common Sense, (But i did five Mil) I ain’t been rhymin like Common since. When your sense got that much in common And you been hustlin since, Your inception, Fuck perception, Go with what makes sense”

If you can read through the lines what Jay is saying, almost directly to our boy common is – you’re being too deep passing your “conscious” views onto the public, that shit doesn’t sell. Considering Jay is the cross culture accepted hip hop mogul and welcomed where no other rappers have gone before, Lonnie may want to take notes, give advice with less judging and preaching, or drink a can of STFU, once and for all.

It’s So Dirty You’ll Need to Wash Your Hands

T-Pain
rEVOLVEr
Sony Music
revolver.t-pain.net

T-Pain rEvolvEr cover

The font choices for T-Pain’s new disc “rEVOLVEr” lead one to believe the emphasis is on the word evolve. According to Wikipedia; “Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations.”  (If Wikipedia says it then it must be true; right?)

I think it is safe to say that to evolve is to grow – to develop. Musically that can be interpreted pretty broadly. The thing is – though – Mr. Pain hasn’t evolved so much as created another collection of catchy NC-17 rated songs rife with sexual conquests and countless pop culture references.

Listening to Mr. Pain’s disc is a guilty pleasure. I can crank it up and sing along, but I don’t think I’d want anyone to see me doing that.

I am clearly not the demographic he was aiming at when he cut this disc. The references are surely of a culture younger and hipper than mine. Odd thing – his way with twisting a melody around his hyperkinetic flow makes for compelling listening/dancing.

Mr. Pain has an uncanny talent for break-neck flow with easy rhymes and solid beats. There is an air of naughty-but-nice in his swagger as he shares stories – sometimes in graphic detail – about the things his bling will bring.

This is a great party disc. If you are a wallflower the lyrics are funny and smart. How does he flow so well with his tongue so firmly tucked into his cheek?

There is nothing new about the backing tracks. They veer into karaoke-quality from time to time, but he isn’t trying to set the world on fire – he is just trying to get lit.

Lily Allen’s contribution to “5:00” reminds us that the young songstress possesses a haunting alluring quality. Her voice is distinctive and textured perfectly. Her singing compliments and complements Mr. Pain.

You might want to wash your hands (thoroughly) after listening to “rEVOLVEr.” I did – the first six times I listened. Once the pop-shock wears off, you can feel free to walk around inside the lyrical ideas and really enjoy the disc.

Stand Out Tracks
It’s Not You (It’s Me)
5:00
Show Time (Pleasure Thang!)
Rock Bottom
Best Love Song

Hot Chelle Rae’s “Whatever”

Hot Chelle Rae
Whatever
RCA Records
www.hotchellerae.com

The world needs good pop music. Pop music – by default – becomes a harbinger for the current generation and the issues that shape them. The attitude of each generation – the fashions – the trial and tribulations – are ever present in the pop music of that generation.

If you really look into it – these things rarely vary much from generation to generation. One defining component is the music. This might explain why we remember certain songs that may not be great songs – but they are linked to a special moment or event in our lives.

Hot Chelle Rae – the currently emerging pop quartet dishing on all things pop and culture have released “Whatever” which is chock full of bouncy-pouncy pop songs that are so infectious even a fussy old curmudgeon can be seen breaking a smile.

Sure the stuff sounds processed and forced – there is something really enjoyable about the surrender to what they are doing.  They have an odd fixation for – shall we say non-Caucasian-urban cultural references which are actually endearingly hilarious because they are blindingly Caucasian.

The music is seamless. The harmonies are tight. The hooks are dance-friendly. They are at the top of their game- if not the top of their genre. With luck they will grow with their audience and mature into a serious musical enterprise.

If not – we might not even hear about them in a year – but for the moment – they have their finger on the pulse of every ingredient needed to create and market a pop masterpiece.

 

Stand Out Tracks

Tonight Tonight

Why Don’t You love Me

Downtown Girl

Gorillaz Has Something for Everyone

Gorillaz
The Singles Collection 2001-2011
Virgin
gorillaz.com

The millennium needed a musical hero. The 20th century didn’t exactly end on a high-note (pun intended). The millennium surely needed someone who could break down the artifice of pop music and navigate the evolving world of hip hop. (Rock and roll was/is hemorrhaging.) Whoever was charged with this task would risk having a short shelf life. The innovators usually suffer at the hands of the imitators. Gorillaz became that band.

A decade later the “fictional” group created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett – is set to release an anthology chronicling their storied career. “The Singles Collection 2001-2011” is proof that rolling with the times – keeping the music organic and alive is one way to stay relevant and fresh.

The fifteen songs on this disc were so timeless when they were created they remain suspended in their own universe. Strangely they bridge musical eras with subtle nods to The Kinks (The melodic themes of “Feel Good Inc.” sounds vaguely familiar.) as effortlessly as they reflect some modern computer-driven aesthetic and the balanced chaos of modern club music.

The band we know as Gorillaz – a response to the banality of the music industry at the turn of the last century – has deconstructed the pop song and broke it down to its primitive core. The duo altered our expectations of new music making it accessible to a much wider audience than most new music artists.

Laced through all of these clarion electronic beats and lush strings there is a sense of humor that transcends the hip factor making this a collection for people who love music with less boundaries. There truly is something for just about everyone here.

Stand Out Tracks
Rock the House
Feel Good Inc.
On Melancholy Hill

Scott Weiland Takes on Christmas

Scott Weiland
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Available Now!

scott weiland the most wonderful time of the year coverWho would be one of the most likely candidates to release a Christmas album? I’ll give you a minute to think about that one…Ok, so Scott Weiland released a Christmas album called, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It’s kind of trippy to hear this Stone Temple Pilot’s singer covering Christmas classics like “The Christmas Song.”   The first track that popped up on my music player was “Happy Christmas and Many More,” and it sounded like Jimmy Buffett high-jacked the track.  It’s very much an island song. Scott’s take on “Silent Night” has a bossa nova beat that is right inline with “Happy Christmas.”  Yet the album is filled with traditional piano and sting arrangements. What’s not there is the rock element that so many fans may be expecting, so don’t hold your breath for a guitar solo or Scott singing into a  megaphone.

It’s obvious Scott wasn’t afraid of taking some risks with the Christmas album.  He took a big one just releasing a Christmas album…period. Not many rockers release an entire album of Christmas music.  If I wasn’t told this album was by Scott Weiland, I don’t think I could have pinpointed the artist.   I might have guessed an unreleased Christmas album by David Bowie.  It’s a far stray from what Scott Weiland fans are accustomed to, but not a bad attempt at covering our favorite Christmas songs. I can tell you for sure it beats anything by Justin Bieber, but if I ever see Scott collaborating with Mariah Carey on a Christmas tune, we’ll have to sit down and talk. Do you hear me Scott?

scott weiland christmas photoThe album is available now in stores and on all digital retail outlets (iTunes / Amazon)- get more details at ScottWeiland.com.

Track Listing
1. “The Christmas Song”
2. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
3. “White Christmas”
4. “Silent Night”
5. “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”
6. “What Child Is This?”
7. “Winter Wonderland”
8. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
9. “Happy Christmas And Many More”
10. “O Holy Night”

Get Your Soul to the Dance Floor with this Little Ditty!

Lauriana Mae
Love Mae EP
Released: 12/6/2011
Atlantic Records

Lauriana Mae Love Mae EP cover

Atlantic Recording artist Lauriana Mae is inspired by the likes of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James and fuses those big soulful sounds with a modern pop/R&B twist.  There is so much talent on the EP and it’s just Lauriana Mae with the assistance of producer Kwame (Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige).  She doesn’t just belt out the punching pop tunes, she also penned all the tracks.

The EP kicks off with “Money Mae,” which is her moniker, and is something I dare you not to sing along to.  ”Like a Drum (Beat It)” and “Love” are the other two tracks to make this EP’s cut.   “Like a Drum” stays with the same catchy beat as “Money Mae,” while “Love” is the smooth jazz ballad.  Even though Love Mae EP is only 3 tracks, it’s a well rounded introduction and there is no reason to not pick up this gem. This EP won’t touch your soul, it’ll grab it and toss it on the dance floor. Now we just have to wait for the full length album. You can pick it up on iTunes here for $2.99!

Lauriana Mae’s “Love Mae EP” Sampler music video:

http://laurianamaemusic.com/
http://twitter.com/laurianamae

Chiwawa: A Good Story with an Indifferent Sound

Chiwawa
Element
Satellite Records Canada
http://www.chiwawa.ca

Chiwawa Element CoverSometimes you just want to relax and enjoy a disc. You read a lot about the group – you get the back-story and you want to root for them. In an ideal world you put on the disc and the music is solid and you realize that the good feelings you preconceived for the band will be rewarded.

Then there are times that the music just falls flat and you feel hoodwinked. You cringe your way through the review (no one really enjoys writing a bad review – no true music lover does anyway).

Chiwawa is that rare band that doesn’t commit to either one. Their story is a beautiful, modern day Indie film that may have been written by Diablo Cody. Two impossibly beautiful people marrying for citizenship only to blossom into true love. I’d buy that for a dollar.

“Element” is their latest release and it is just another one-dimensional electro-pop collection rife with repetitious beats and forced rhymes. The troubling element is that it isn’t terrible and it isn’t great. It is just a predictable computer generated dozen cuts designed to get your rump shaking and that is about it.

Krassy Halatchev and Laurie Gordon complement each other very well. You can hear the seamless collaboration on these electronic offerings.  You just find yourself wishing the stakes were higher.

“Another Moment” is the exception.  The quixotic blend of sounds – the haunting melody – the sweetness of Gordon’s vocals show what the duo could do if they were so inclined.

They have an impressive discography and their downloads are priced to be fan friendly. They are obviously doing something that is connecting. I just can’t figure out a way to put my finger on it.

Stand Out Track
Another Moment

Robert Schwartzman’s “Double Capricorn”

Robert Schwartzman
Double Capricorn
Self-released
Robertschwartzman.com

robert Schwartzman Double Capricorn coverIt seemed – at first – that Robert Schwartzman had fallen into a deep sleep and had woken up in 1982 in a recording studio.  His quirky-alt-80s sound is endearing if not a bit kitschy. The electro-bump of “Out of My Mind” kicks off “Double Capricorn” sounding a bit like a Human League on happy pills.

“Double Capricorn” is a collection of songs in which the instruments are played (almost) entirely by Schwartzman himself. The interesting thing – he actually pulls it off. The recording is tight and the arrangements – while a bit dated – are no worse for the wear.

It would be a little more compelling in Schwartzman had backed off of the affectations and let the music find its way over to its own invention. The songs seem to be written with the tongue firmly in cheek – a left-handed-homage to music designed to make you homesick for music that you missed the first time around.

Robert Palmer, John Lennon, The Pet Shop Boys, and the Beatles are among the filters Schwartzman employs on his way to being hipper-than-thou. His take on early 80s Elton John is spot on. He created a record the 20-something hipsters can call their own while being enjoyed by the 40-somethings who actually remember this music the first time around.

There are a lot reasons to buy this disc. Not the least of these reasons is all profits from the sale of this album are being donated to the Tibetan Healing Fund. Let “Double Capricorn” heal you at the same time.

Stand Out Tracks
I Know Why
Funny Money
All My Life

Falling in Love with Kimbra’s “Settle Down” EP

Kimbra
Settle Down EP
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Released: 10/18/2011

Kimbra Settle Down EPKimbra is a 21-year-old New Zealand pop sensation.  She released her 4 song EP Settle Down on October 18th via Warner Bros. Records.   The EP includes her catchy hit “Settle Down,” “Limbo,” a remix of “Cameo Lover,” and “Plain Gold Ring” performed live at Sing Sing.   The EP can be purchased here.

Kimbra already released her album Vows in New Zealand and Australia, where it was certified gold.  She is currently working on a full length album for the U.S. release through Warner Bros. Records. The full length album is set for a Spring 2012 release.

The Settle Down EP is one the catchiest pop EP’s that has been released this year.  “Settle Down’s” catchiness comes from the hand-clapping rhythm, tied in with the heavy bass line that will make any person catch the fever.   The second track, “Limbo” is no less pop infused than “Settle Down.”  It’s the crescendo that kicks off “Limbo” and leads into more hand-clapping rhythms with Kimbra’s smooth and fluid lyrics flawlessly intertwined.

Kimbra’s Official “Settle Down” Music Video:

With two gangbuster pop melodies at the forefront of the Settle Down EP, it’s a little hard to simmer down into the slower melodies of “Plain Gold Ring.” Granted just because this cover of Nina Simone’s “Plain Gold Ring” takes more of a slower tempo, and is very stripped down, doesn’t mean it isn’t an awesome track.    The final track on the all-too-short EP is “Cameo Lover.”  The song gets the full club remix courtesy of Sam Sparro & Golden Touch.  I must say I am a little attached to the original mix versus the remix.

Overall, the EP is something refreshing and a must-have for those who are looking for some new music to get them on their feet and moving!  It will definitely keep me intrigued until Kimbra’s 2012 full album release.

The track-listing for Settle Down is as follows:
“Settle Down”
“Limbo”
“Plain Gold Ring” (Live at Sing Sing)
“Cameo Lover” (Sam Sparro & Golden Touch Remix)
Plus:
Video for “Settle Down” (available from all participating digital retail outlets)

Kimbramusic.com | myspace.com/kimbramusic | facebook.com/kimbramusic |twitter.com/kimbramusic

The Windsor Player: The Ultimate Supergroup

The Windsor Player
Eponymous
Self-Released
www.thewindsorplayer.com

The Windsor PlayerThis is meat and potatoes. This is dependable and delicious and every bit as American as the Super Bowl. The Windsor Player – the latest alt-supergroup created by Troy Stewart – has released an eponymous disc that is bigger than all of its components yet intimate and relevant.

From the melancholy strings of “Release” which kicks off this powerful collection – to the rolling melody and seamless instrumentals and playful faux-rap of “Just a Song” there is not a weak moment on this disc.

Sadly I am not nearly hip enough to know who Stewart is except that he is the touring guitarist for Snow Patrol. The names of the players and the bands that he has assembled reads like a who’s who of bands that linger on the fringes of mainstream – just safety within the reach of the hipsters, but not the radio station program directors.

I think – in this case – my ignorance fed my bliss because I had no preconceived notion of what I was getting into. What I was – and continue to – get into is a whip smart and impeccably recoded and produced collection of songs.

It isn’t enough that Stewart – and his army of co-conspirators – have blended their own unique perspectives into each bar – each measure of music – they had the good sense to get out of the way and let the song rule the day. I promise this is a disc that will serve as background when you are working/partying. It will also work as a clinic in songwriting and arranging.

As we begin the head-long careen into the holiday shopping season, every writer is putting together their “best of list” in hopes of boosting the holiday sales and having one more shot at influencing their readers.

The Windsor Player is my favorite release of the year. End of list.

Stand Out Tracks
Release
Empty Well
Just a Song

Russian Circles on Their Own Planet

Russian Circles
Empros
Sargent House
russiancircles.tumblr.com

Russian Circles Empros

I totally get the concept of acquired tastes. When I was in high school while my friends were getting buzzed on Miller High Life and puffing on Kools I was drinking Cutty Sark and smoking Lucky Strikes. I couldn’t see what they were excited about and they thought I was on my own planet.

Russian Circles seem to be on a planet of their own making – only I felt like a visitor there – and not a very welcome one. Theirs is a planet of droning shapeless music designed – I think – to enhance a good trip – although not a road trip.

Thinking in terms familiar to the average music listener – Russian Circles can be defined as a metal-jam-goth band. They seem to be the type of group that cringes at the every notion of labels – but for our purposes the labels at least create an accessible expectation of the music.

Metal-Jam-Goth isn’t necessarily a negative term – it is just my interpretation of these long sprawling musical journeys that reflect the most common elements of Metal, Jam, and Goth music.

Many Americans don’t like Middle Eastern or Asian music because they are unaccustomed to it. It doesn’t fit well into their (dare I say?) virgin ears. The time signatures are different – the scales are different. It can be jarring to the uninitiated.

Russian Circles – while wholly American – have blended the genres to the point that they don’t settle well for me. The result veers toward melodramatic horror film soundtrack.

I am hard pressed to create a negative review because Russian Circles surely have a clear idea of what they want to do musically.  Empros is just not something I am interested in listening to on a regular basis.

They are committed to that they do and for that you might give Empros a listen. You may find their odd darkness fused with a few strands of hope is just what the doctor ordered – especially if you are planning any trips any time soon.

Stand Out Track
Schiphol (the first3:40)

Electric Touch’s “Don’t Stop”

Electric Touch
Don’t Stop
Island Records
www.electrictouch.com
Suppose millennial pop star Pink made a song so catchy and commercial a health club decided to use it as their… wait. That has happened already. Clearly the soft-pop quintet Electric Touch was paying very close attention. You might say they were heavily influenced by that driving dancer-cize-style of pop music.

“Don’t Stop” is an EP of clean and crisp pop music. Nothing challenging – nothing deep, just fun, aggressive, predictable pop that nearly blurs into one 13-minute long song.

The title track resonates with a “spin-off-the-pounds” vibe. This is the song I expect to hear ringing out in every gym/health club pushing the bar and raising the adrenaline – not challenging the mind.

Magnetic” sounds like an outtake from the aforementioned Pink. It is fun and painless – but it is likely not something that will be around a year from now. This is not to say that all music must have along shelf life – but the best music typically does. Beatles anyone?

Dominos” saves this EP from being completely bereft of substance. It is very close – but not completely.

If you are going to the gym – or power walking – or you want to feel like you are might be working out later – “Don’t Stop” (even the title suggest forward motion) is a good little quartet of pop nuggets.

If you prefer your music to be original – passionate – compelling – you might want to a pass on this one. I will say – though – the song “Don’t Stop” contains my favorite lyrical line of the year, “Life is strange, but love is stranger.”
Stand Out Track
Dominos

http://ElectricTouch.com
http://twitter.com/ElectricTouch
http://Myspace.com/ElectricTouch

MENEW’s “Wide Awake Hello”

MENEW (pronounced “men-u”)
Wide Awake Hello
Redcore Music Group

MENEW is:
Shade – Vocals
Nathan Samuel Philip – Drums, Backing Vocals I
Key – Piano, Synthesizers

WideAwakeHello-CoverFINALsquare

Hello David Bowie! MENEW is a trio of brothers Canada that were heavily influenced by British Rock. They are all classically trained on the piano and have a deep love and appreciation for music.  The brothers’ last EP, Of The Future, was a hit among critics and landed them recognition by the Grammy Awards as well as placement at the top of the Billboard charts of top written songs back in 2009.  As for their name, it is more of a symbol than a name. Shade explains, “It originally came from merging two signs in our garage rehearsal space. We liked that it was ambigram.”

MENEW Group Photo

Photo Credit: Deborah Anderson

Wide Awake Hello is their first full length studio album. It’s packed with songs that demonstrate their knowledge of British rock and synthesizers.  It’s songs like “Sinking Ship” that immediately reminds me of David Bowie.  Yet “The Neon Light (Part 1)/In Debt (Part 2)” has the alternative rock vibe. When Shade hits the higher octaves I feel like I am listening to Chris Cornell.

MENEW’s “Don’t Give Up on Us Now” Music Video:

The entire album is infused with a balance of pop, synths, and rock. It’s tasty ear candy in a world of mundane music. Pick it up if you are looking for a bit of British Rock fused into your rock ‘n’ roll!

Standout Songs
Wide Awake
Sinking Ship

http://www.menew.com
Facebook
MySpace
Twitter
Official Website
Official MySpace
a href=”http://www.youtube.com/menewmusic” target=”_blank”>YouTube Channel

Anika = Music is Art, Art is Music

Anika
Anika
Released: November 15, 2010
Stones Throw Records

This is the third degree of separation table to introduce you to Anika:
Portishead –>
Geoff Barrow –>
Beak –>
Anika.

Anika is a political journalist from Berlin and Bristol, England. Geoff Barrow is the musical mastermind behind all of the quirky Portishead sounds and the namesake of the band (his mum moved to the town in England). Beak was his post phead project. All of these things meshed together and in 12 days in one room, without any edits, this album came to be. The album is mostly covers including: Yoko Ono’s “Yang Yang”, “Terry” by Lynn Ripley, “End of the World” by Skeeter Davis, “Masters of War” by Bob Dylan, and “I Go to Sleep” by The Kinks. All of which are renewed by Anika’s sing/speak dark and unassuming politically injected voice. The cd released last year served as a new project for Geoff and Beak, and a new beginning for Anika as she dabbled outside of journalism. If you’re wondering if it sounds like PHead, it doesn’t. The smart quirky signature Geoff sounds are all over the record but this is more of a moody background record while intellectuals nosh on gouda cheese, rather than girl alone in bedroom with Beth delivering a message. Still, The album would impress any hipster with ears.

Although, a new chapter is evolving for Anika as she continues down this new musical chapter of her life. This year she released a 3 track EP which shows much evolution in self written lyrical content and an overall more cohesive musical package. It showcases music as art, which is something so rarely seen today. It sounds beautiful, therefore it looks beautiful, therefore it can be used in beautiful ways. It’s simplistic musical thing, come full circle, and how good music can be if we just don’t mess with it. Judge for yourself as Anika finishes up her tour at the following dates:

Sat 10/22/11 Los Angeles, CA EchoPlex
Tue 10/25/11 Austin, TX Emo’s
Wed 10/26/11 New Orleans, LA Siberia
Appearing at “Moogfest” (NC) / Moby Fri 10/28/11 Asheville, NC Downtown Asheville
Appearing at “Moogfest” (NC) Sat 10/29/11 Asheville, NC Downtown Asheville
Appearing at “St. Ghetto Festival” Sat 11/19/11 Bern, Switzerland Dampfzentrale

It’s Semi-Sweet for Gavin DeGraw

Gavin DeGraw
Sweeter
Released: September 13, 2011
RCA Records

Gavin DeGraw Sweeter Cover

I love Gavin DeGraw’s voice, I just don’t like the songs that he sings. Gavin sing’s these soft fluffy perfect pop songs that are so far from anything I would ever entertain listening to that I don’t feel I can properly review the album, just merely his voice. Which remains comforting and smooth. On his new album Sweeter his fans have remarked that he has returned to his earlier style of the album entitled Chariot, this apparently makes them happy. It seems that if you enjoy a good adult contemporary pop album than this record from Gavin DeGraw will also make you happy. Enjoy!

Gavin DeGraw’s “Not Over You” Music Video:

Woof! I’m Still Hungry.

Eve To Adam
Eve to Adam Banquet for a Starving Dog

Queens NY band Eve to Adam releases their national debut cd: Banquet for a Starving Dog and to be honest the band still needs to give the dog a bone. To be as nice as I can possibly be, the entire cd is no worse than anything else on the radio today, although that is the problem because it is also no better. The lyrics are straightforwardly delivered to you, without metaphor, and in a rhyming fashion. I listen to lyrics and so at this point the music has become nails down a chalkboard to me. If you don’t listen to lyrics and just like rock music, for rock music, then you will be satisfied along with the solid allegiance of ETA fans. I truly hate bashing an up and coming band but I have to be honest, I would have sat on releasing this album until the lyrical content showed more depth and perception, it killed it for me. Maybe the lead singer can focus less on his already impressive body and more on the words he’s delivering? Sometimes pretty just isn’t enough.

Where Are You?

Kelly Rowland
Here I am
Released: July 22, 2011
Universal Motown

Kelly Rowland Here I Am Cover

The other girl in Destiny’s Child put out another album. Not the rich one, not the religious one, the other one. The one that makes all the singles that you know and love, but have no idea who sings them? That’s right her, Kelly Rowland. Kelly is good for a hot single now and again but I don’t think she ever needs to make a full album. She’s alright jumping on a Ne-Yo track and doing a hook or doing an intro to a new Kells single and we’ll know she ‘s still alive and this will suffice on paying her rent. Truly homegirl needn’t 10 opportunities to hit the target, because 8 will miss the mark. Kelly has a problem repeating herself, repeating herself, repeating herself on the cd – when she runs out of creative lyrics and it’s annoying annoying annoying. If you have heard the two biggest singles “Commander” and “Motivation” you needn’t hear anymore. Especially the opening track where Kelly blatantly impersonates B. Kelly bites B so often on the CD that really the only difference in Kelly’s music is that Kelly drops the N word in almost every single and she’s not afraid to get dirty, tell you how and where she wants it and in which rooms. All of which could have been contained inside two dance singles, or an EP. The extra tracks just remind us that Kelly isn’t a Beyonce, sadly, she may not even know who she is.

Little Red is a Must-Have

Little Red
Get a Life
Liberation Records (AUS)
True Panther Sounds (US)
www.littleredmusic.com

Little Red Midnight Remember

Good pop music is like a cool ripe juicy mango on a hot summer day. You sink your teeth in and pull away chunks and the sweet juices flow down your neck and you kind of look silly –but you don’t care because you are really enjoying the experience on every level. You really feel good.

Little Red is the best mango I’ve dug my teeth into in some time. The Australian quintet offers delicious, juicy melody lines over buoyant arrangements that are filled with sweet surprises.

Little Red might feel – at times – like they are weighed down by the influence of pop bands that have come before them – specifically when it comes to lyrical ideas, but the result is fresh and wholly their own. The songs on “Get a Life” offer a penumbra of 80s radio-pop without sounding like a tribute disc.

Rock It” with the thumping base and hi-hat intro almost sounds like a cogent riff on Jukebox the Ghost, again Little Red will tease you with musical ideas that seem like they might have come before – but really haven’t.

In My Bed” showcases the quintet’s ability so soar vocally. Their harmonies are tight and the arrangement keeps them relevant – but not overbearing.

I Can’t Wait” is another beauty. It just feels good to listen to. It is smoky with a shade of melancholy even if the message is more hopeful than the arrangement will allow.

Little Red – the band – has created a sweet treat for your ears. Dig in and let the juices flow. Who cares how you look – if you feel good.

Stand Out Tracks
Rock It
In My Bed
I Can’t Wait
February

Tracklisting

1. Get A Life
2. Slow Motion
3. Rock It
4. Little Bit Of Something
5. All Mine
6. In My Bed
7. I Can’t Wait
8. February
9. Chelsworth
10. Follow You There

Little Red online:

www.littleredmusic.com
www.truepanther.com
truepanther.com/store/releases/midnight-remember

No Thanks Lyonnais!

Lyonnais
Transitive Properties of Youth
Self released
www.myspace.com/teamlyonnais

LyonnaisThere is an iconic – often recited (sometimes even correctly) scene in the 1987classic “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” Steve Martin tells John Candy, “Here’s a good idea – have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!”

That is exactly what went though my mind as I listened to the blathering known as “Transitive Properties of Youth” by Lyonnais who just might be the last band in American to have a myspace page.

There is precious little on this release that doesn’t have me running for the stop button (or a knitting needle for my ears.)  It is the most inconsequential music I have ever had the misfortune of listening to. It has less musical value than a Cadbury Easter egg and about the same nutritional value.

On their myspace page they claim to be psychedelic. Even the most psychedelic band I have ever heard had a point – they had something to say – even if they were spacey and nebulous with the way they said it.

This is just droning – poorly produced tripe that I had to endure for hour after hour as I listened on a variety of days to assure myself it wasn’t my mood that was making me have such a negative reaction to the music.  Then I realized they were the reason that my mood always went sour after listening to them for more than three songs. (Thing is – you can’t really tell when one song ends and the next one begins.)

Being a music writer is usually the greatest job a guy can have. It is typically a pleasure – until you meet Lyonnais and “Transitive Properties of Youth” at which point it becomes more tedious than being an accountant.

Stand Out Tracks
Whatever the last track is be cause that means we are done listening to this.

The Way Sound Leaves a Room

Sarah Jaffe
The Way Sound Leaves a Room
Kirtland Records
sarahjaffe.com

sarah jaffee the way sound leaves a room cover Sarah Jaffe’s The Way Sound Leaves a Room features some heartfelt singing and some strong songwriting, but it just isn’t consistent enough to be a compelling choice when seeking music to work with or just chill out with. Her sense of irony seems to almost weigh down her energy and the sense of play that resulted in songs like “A Sucker for Your Marketing.”

In fairness – after the fifth or sixth listen – it did kind of grow on me. It may have been familiarity – it may have been the uniqueness of Jaffe’s voice. It may have been the slightly less than traditional arrangements (“All the Time”). The trouble with that is most people aren’t patient and want to fall in love with their music before they are distracted by the next new thing.

“Clementine” – a lovely piano ballad – is worth the time. This song will surely put Jaffe on the musical map. No longer encumbered by the necessity to buy an album – this is one download that will surely define Jaffe and help her to develop the following she deserves

While she shows some serious musical intelligence (and diversity) on this release – some different sounds and different arrangement paradigms, she rests carefully – almost gingerly – in world of country-tinged indie-folk music. Even in the most sparsely populated songs – she finds a way to fill the sound with textures and colors.

“Louder Than Ever” is the rare song that reflects itself with uncanny precision. The mood set by the instrumentation reflects the whispy vocals which support the ethereal lyrics. The song seems the perfect opportunity for Jaffe to break into the mainstream – which tends to be afraid of anything new or valuable.

If you have the time to fall in love with some sweet music – give “The Way Sound Leaves a Room” a chance. If you need instant gratification – Bruno Mars will surely have something more to your liking out any day now.

Stand Out Tracks
“Clementine”
“Louder Than Ever”
“Shut It Down”

Celabrasion Indeed

Sleeper Agent
Celabrasion
Sony Music
Released: OUT ON iTunes, physical release due September 27th, 2011.

Hipster Alert: GET THIS!

I sat by the pool in sunny southern California and I hit play. Most of the world is currently hanging onto the last days of summer. Summer.. Fun, lighthearted, simple, energetic, little did I know all of these things would soon describe Sleeper Agent’s debut album as well. From beginning to end I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this little beauty. Young kids from Kentucky jam out and make the most detail oriented – lyric obsessed music guru not ask any serious questions. There truly isn’t anything serious here, it’s just simple plain good fun music. Beautiful dual lead vocals will hold your hand as you squeeze tightly to the last days of sweet summer sweat, let this be your anthem, or you’ll be quite sorry.. As summer fades to fall I suspect you’ll hear their tunes already remixed and banging from cars still daring to have the windows down in cool temperatures. You have to go big when you need to split royalties six ways, yet in this instance I don’t think it will even mildly be an issue. Bravo KY, keep breeding rock stars.

Sleeper Agent celebrasion cover

Any Man in America Can Be a Tease

Blue October
Any Man In America
RED Distribution
Released: August 16th, 2011

Blue October Any Man in America

This Song, the first official one on the album is epic, thoughtful, beautiful, and the biggest tone setting tease I’ve ever heard from a record. The lead singer’s voice is the rusty love child of Glen Hansard of the frames and Peter Gabriel. The song titled “The feel again (stay)” is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard in long a time. Lead Vocalist and Lyricist Justin Furstenfeld really lays his balls out on the track expressing his loss in regards to his divorce and custody of his daughter.

I was prepared to adore this cd at this point…

The lyrics went on to be simple and could have been seen as cheesy (especially on track 4 entitled “For the love”) but the backing music is so beautiful it often saves the tracks from themselves. I start to think that there are super rarely albums that are good beginning to end anymore. I think it’s often because bands are trying to please so many people’s musical palates by crossing genres on one album. Also I think bands are trying to prove their roots, or create the music they listen to, opposed to what their talented in making and ultimately it’s all too much. At track two – if the album stayed that way I would have loved it beginning to end but by track 5 it has gone far too pop and then by track six it makes an embarrassing failure attempting glam rock. Now at track 7 we’re going to rap? Justin has the rock genre down, while he may have been raised on hip hop, we believe you, we don’t need to hear it unless you’re a rapper through and through otherwise this just feels..awkward. You’re not Eminem, and by track 8 I am sick of hearing this grown man cry about his daughter. I don’t feel for him anymore, it’s just turned bad. Fast.

Blue October has beautiful sounding instruments that range all over the board, violins (in very unique ways), drums, bass, mandolins etc etc and Justin Furstenfeld has a poetically beautiful voice. If he gave me 10 tracks similar to “The feel again” I would be singing the praises, unfortunately, instead I feel like I just saw a mirage.

The Truth Is..

Theory of a Deadman
The Truth is..
Release date: July 12, 2011
Label: Roadrunner Records

Theory of a Deadman The Truth is..

It’s really hard to write an album review for “it’s ok” music. It’s very easy to toot a great album’s horn, or to pan an abysmal release but when the music is “well it’s just ok”..What does one say besides that?

I guess you know where I stand now on Theory of a Deadman’s newest release “The Truth is…” and the truth is, “It’s OK.” If you are a person who actually listens to lyrics then you will appreciate the two bit humor laced into every sentence on the record. Musically, I caught myself toe tapping more than a couple of times, so the beats are there. Then curiously there are a few country-ish songs to close out the record? It’s as if the band is asking “Well what about this, then?” in case you didn’t like the soft rock, or the progressive rock, do you fancy country? At this point I am puzzled as to where this music fits. The track “Easy to Love You” screams adult contemporary pop charts, then you have “Love is Hell” which is straight alternative rock, Then the best song on the album, “Gentleman” is a punkish anthem..These guys are all over the place. Focus Bros. A lot of this is very right, the lyrics are hysterical, (See Here) the music is all fine, and although their fourth studio album is the highest charting yet it’s still just not.. enough.

I guess that’s what Canadian music is? 90% cool? Just OK? Poor Canada. We did get Alanis out of it though..

Fruit Bats going strong with Tripper

Fruit Bats
Tripper
Release Date: August 2
Subpop 

On the Fruit Bats fifth album, Tripper, band leader Eric D. Johnson moves away the sunny disposition of past records and embarks on a darker journey.  Having spent a decade with Fruit Bats while also playing with Califone, The Shins and Vetiver (who they will be co-headlining  a tour with this fall), Eric has traveled through the long winding road of indie pop and beyond.  Most recently he has contributed to the upcoming My Idiot Brother soundtrack.

Pausing from the heavy folksy strumming guitars for more keyboards and synthesizers, Fruit Bats have composed a mix tape for a long road trip. Produced by Thom Monahan who worked on albums for the likes of Devendra Banhart and Vetiver, Tripper has a similar sound to Vetiver’s recent release The Errant Charm.  The connection between the bands runs deeper than Eric playing with Vetiver.  There’s an amazing video of Andy Cabic of Vetiver and Eric dueting on a cover of Bobby Charles’ “I Must Be In a Good Place Now”.  Tripper‘s last mention on the liner notes is “For Andy”.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Bromance a brewin’.

Honestly, Tripper took me a few listens to absorb, but I enjoyed it more with every listen.  Standout tracks for me:
“So Long” infuses harp strums which are actually from a vintage Chamberlain keyboard.  Who would have thunk it?  ”Heart Like A Orange” reminds me of older Fruit Bats’ tracks with the addition of heavy keys, but a familiar rollicking sound of year’s past.  ”Dolly” is a toe- taping ditty which is dangerously infectious.  Maybe it’s Eric’s work with soundtracks but “The Fen” is a simple instrumental piece sandwiched between bold tracks anchored by Eric’s falsetto that I had not remembered being so high in the past.  Check out the album for yourself as it’s streaming on KCRW until August 23rd.

Track list
Tony the Tripper
So Long
Tangie and Ray
Shivering Fawn
You’re Too Weird
Heart Like an Orange
Dolly
The Banishment  Song
The Fen
Wild Honey
Picture of a Bird

Tour dates
7.29 – Spokane, WA / A Club
7.30 – Pullman, WA / Bell Tower

8.2 – Seattle, WA / Easy Street (Queen Anne)
8.3 – Portland, OR / Music Millennium
8.5 – Happy Valley, OR / Pickathon Festival
8.6 - Happy Valley, OR / Pickathon Festival
8.22 – Redmond, WA / Marymoor Park
8.23 – Vancouver, Canada / Malkin Bowl

9.3 –  Gorge, WA / Gorge Ampitheatre
9.6 – Minneapolis, MN / First Avenue
9.7 – Iowa City, IA / The Mill
9.8 – Chicago, IL / Lincoln Hill
9.9 – Newport, KY / Southgate House
9.10 – Pittsburgh, PA / Mr. Smalls
9.11 – Big Indian, NY / Tiger Mountina & Truck Festival
9.12 – Cambridge, MA / Middle East
9.13 – New York, NY / Bowery Ballroom
9.14 – Philadelphia, PA / First Unitarian Church
9.15 – Washington, DC / Black Cat
9.17 – Durham, NC / Motor Co
9.19 – St. Louis, MO / Off Broadway
9.20  - Lawrence, KS / Jackpot Saloon
9.22 – Denver, CO / Bluebird Theater
9.24 –  Salt Lake City, UT / Urban Lounge

Fool’s Gold – Leave No Trace

Fool’s Gold
Leave No Trace
Release Date: August 16
I Am Sound Records

Leave No Trace, the follow-up to Fool’s Gold’s self-titled debut, does not divert from the dancy fun times that were introduced back in 2009.  Luke Top and Lewis Pesacov continue infusing African beats and rhythms to the ten tracks that comprise the new album out August 16.

Lewis has been a busy boy fronting his other band Foreign Born and producing Best Coast’s debut album.  He even has been tapped to compose some Afro-beats for a recent Nike commercial.  His creative energies aren’t dry when you hear the opening track, “A Dive”, as percussions are a blaze.  One can’t help but shuffle side to side.  The party continues on with “Wild Window” from the early sound of lasers. Yes friends, lasers! Check it out below.


In the middle of the album is the track “Balmy” which saunters in with a slow jam Bollywood cadence.  I have to say the second half the album is stronger with stellar tracks like “Tel Aviv” sung in Luke’s native tongue of Hebrew and “Bark and Bite” reminds me of the fervor in Lewis’ other band Foreign Born.  Last but definitely not least, “Lantern” serves as a perfect doo-wop close set against lovely wind instruments.  Fool’s Gold hits the jackpot again with Leave No Trace.

Track list
The Dive
Wild Window
Street Cloths
Leave No Trace
Balmy
Narrow Sun
Tel Aviv
Mammal
Bark and Bite
Lantern

Tour Dates
8.3 -  Los Angeles, CA / Greek Theatre
8.6 – Seattle, WA / Seattle Center
8.22 – Las Vegas, NV / Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay
9.3 – Los Angeles, CA / FYF Fest
9.13 – Tulsa, OK / Cain’s Ballroom
9.14 – San Marcos, TX / Texas Music Theatre
9.17 – Austin, TX / Austin City Limits
9.18 – Chicago, IL / Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements Festival
9.19 – Columbus, OH / Skully’s
9.20 – Philadelphia, PA / Kung Fu Necktie
9.21 – Washington, DC / Black Cat
9.22 – New York, NY / Mercury Lounge
9.24 – Brooklyn, NY / Brooklyn Bowl
10.1 – San Francisco, CA / Brick and Mortar Music Hall

Michael Jade’s No Outlet

Michael Jade
No Outlet
www.facebook.com/michaeljadefb

Michael Jade

I can honestly say that I got a fresh breath of musical air the day that I met Michael Jade. The music – like the man – is smart and fresh and will surely earn a space in our collective music consciousness before all is said and done. He is not the next anything; He is the first Michael Jade.

Less a traditional review – this is an opportunity for a music writer to share ideas in a less conventional form. This also seems to be the way Jade is approaching his music. Rather than go the way of the CD and other predictable venues – Jade is willing to give away his music and that is a gift that everyone should share.

The bright young multi-instrumentalist has taken his music to social networking with free downloads and videos. The multiple award winning songwriter is focused on introducing himself and his perfectly crafted songs to the public – like any good crack dealer. Get ‘em hooked they’ll keep coming back for more.

“Chicago (featuring John Mayer)” is a national anthem for the 21st century Midwestern music lover. The song feels a little like a European waltz and a Chicago soul mash-up. The song comes across much like the city itself which is a mash up of European sensibilities bathed in deep, pure soul. That is Chicago – that is Jade.

Truth be told when I learned Jade plays all of his own instruments I feigned excitement and started heading toward the door. This is rarely a good thing.

Typically that is a huge red flag that informs the writer that either the music is going to be simple and just short of exiting – or that it is going to be an indulgent mess that is difficult to listen to.

Jade brings his energy and a passion to every instrument and never disappoints the listener. Whether it is a busy-bopper like “Drive Me Crazy” or a sweet serenade such as “What Was I Thinking” he knows when to put the notes into the open spaces and he knows – and this is paramount importance – he knows when to get out of the way and let the song dictate what he is playing.

I learned a lot from my time with Jade and from my continued listening to his music. I learned that passion is not dead and pop music has a new star in its constellation. I also learned to never underestimate a guy in a hoodie.

Find Michael Jade on Facebook and listen to his music. He’ll inspire and entertain you. If you aren’t careful he might even motivate you to pull your guitar our and start building calluses all over again.

 
Stand Out Tracks

Product of Pieces

Sorry

Armor

Invisible

Chicago (featuring John mayer)

Moby’s Destoyed – Now You Can Download the Cure for Insomnia

Moby
Destroyed
Little Idiot Records
Moby.com  

Moby Destroyed

Got sleep issues? Try Moby’s newest release “Destroyed” (on Little Idiot Records). If this collection of self-indulgent faux-soundtrack cuts doesn’t put you to sleep – you might need serious medical help.

This has to be the only album in existence that makes lush string arrangements sound boring and monotone. There is nothing here that I can hang my ears on. What Moby has released is him and a computer making navel-gazing music that would even annoy the most jaded navel gazer.

There are moments of sweetness, (“The Violet Bear It Away”) but they quickly erode into repetitive droning musical ideas. He – who could have really demolished preconceived notions and pioneered the genre – relies on loops and cheese-ball edits to try to elicit an emotion from the listener.

Most of what he has created here sounds like the soundtrack to a sad European movie where it is always raining and someone dies and there is a lot of slo-mo running alone through the crowded streets of the city.

The most frustrating part of listening to this disc is some of the ideas truly are beautiful. Some of the chord progressions tap into something medieval and powerful – but rather than follow the idea to a logical conclusion – he (for the most part) just loops it back around into itself.

“Stella Maris” is an exception and – actually – almost reason to buy this disc. If you can legally download this one cut – I strongly suggest it. Moby finds a way to blend ancient spirituality into the full-bodied strings and the reed-thin computer generated arrangements.

If the whole disc was as amazing – revelatory – as “Stella Maris” Moby would have a new fan. Sadly there is nothing on the disc that is even in the ballpark. Legally download this cut and leave the rest of this disc to the hardcore fans who will accept everything he records, because they are – well – hardcore fans.

Stand out Track
The Day
Stella Maris
The Violent Bear It Away