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Talking Heads – “Road to Nowhere”


The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society Box Set Previewed with Unreleased Song from 1968kinkssss

November 22nd will mark the 50th anniversary of the Kinks’ notable and flawless 1968 studio album, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. To this day, it is considered one of the greatest albums of all time and most respected albums in the Kinks’ catalog.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society 50 Year Anniversary Edition 2018.

On Wednesday (Aug. 15), the Kinks have announced a 50th anniversary edition box set of the noteworthy album to be released on Oct. 26th.

In a press release, frontman, Ray Davies, said, “I think The Village Green Preservation Society is about the ending of a time personally for me in my life.”

Davies later said, “In my imaginary village. It’s the end of our innocence, our youth. Some people are quite old, but in the Village Green, you’re never allowed to grow up. I feel the project itself as part of a life cycle.”

In honor of the anniversary, the Kinks have shared an unreleased track from 1968, called “Time Song” which will be included in the deluxe box set, mixed by Davies himself.

In spite of never being released, the Kinks performed the song at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1973, in respect of Britain’s entry into the Common Market.

Davies said, “When we played a concert at Drury Lane in ’73 to ‘celebrate’ us about to join what was called The Common Market, I decided to use the song as a warning that time was running out for the old British Empire.”

Davies later said, “This song was recorded a few weeks later, but never made the final cut on the Preservation Act I album. Oddly enough, the song seems quite poignant and appropriate to release at this time in British history, and like Europe itself the track is a rough mix which still has to be finessed.”

The single version will be available as a limited edition 7” single exclusively with pre-orders of the box set.

Also to celebrate the reissued release, there will be an exhibition celebrating all things Kinks-related. Titled “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society,” the exhibition will kick off on October 4th and run until November 18th, 2018 at Proud Central in London.

Seen as the pinnacle point of the Kinks’ career and Ray Davies’ songwriting, the The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is considered the group’s Sgt. Pepper. However, it was not a commercial success at all for the group. Upon its release, it failed to chart and nearly went unnoticed, but later developed a cult following.

Remember though, the group were banned in the states from touring from 1965-1969 by the trade union, American Federation of Musicians. It was all due to a fight between guitarist, Dave Davies and drummer, Mick Avory and another fight with a guy who apparently worked for a TV company backstage during The Dick Clark show. It is sad too because they recorded some of the greatest albums of all time between that period, but without touring in America and gaining recognition like many of their contemporaries did, they would never achieve the success they deserved.

Avory, Ray and Dave Davies have had a traditional and long lasting split between one another, but the frontman says that they are all on board for the reunion and to record new music. Let’s just hope there is no more bad blood between the old blokes.


David Byrne Still Makes Sense Performing ‘American Utopia’ at CMAC

byrne cmac
David Byrne brought his “American Utopia” to CMAC on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. PHOTO BY: WARREN LINHART

Sunday night, David Byrne, best known for being the frontman of Talking Heads, performed at the CMAC in Canandaigua, NY, to perform a mix of his solo work from his recent solo album, American Utopia, and songs from Talking Heads.

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Benjamin Clementine performing last March at Razzmatazz in Barcelona, Spain. PHOTO BY: Gabri Guerrero

Starting the night off right, Byrne’s opening act, Benjamin Clementine, an English avant-garde artist and poet, took the stage and performed seven songs. Only by his side, was a piano, some electronics, and his bass player. Clementine mixed classical elements with experimental pop during his set. The best example of this was his performance of an alternative version of “One Awkward Fish.” He finished his set with the vocally graceful and captivating “I Won’t Complain,” as he and his bassist, sung together while slowly walking around the stage.

A set like this was unpredictable, as Clementine would hit you with some warm chords then suddenly he would erupt. With minimal avant-garde music and a wide vocal range, Clementine’s music is balanced in both a consistent sound full of emotions. Since his music is very sophisticated, just as Leonard Cohen’s, Clementine serves as one of the most versatile and complete artists around today. He was the perfect choice to tour with Byrne, with how both overly eccentric their music can be.

David Byrne opens his American Utopia show performing “Here” while holding a brain. PHOTO BY: WARREN LINHART

After a short intermission, now looking more wise with his immaculate shocking white hair, Byrne took the stage alone, later sitting in a chair in front of a table holding a brain. The pink colored brain is the only speck of color, over a grey, naked stage, enclosed by glimmering beaded curtains. If audience members thought Byrne holding a brain was odd, it wasn’t. The song he performed called “Here,” discusses parts of the cerebellum. Byrne is also known for taking the stage at his shows by himself at first.

All appearing barefoot and in grey wool suits, Byrne’s 11-member band appeared on stage with him and performed his cover of X-Press 2’s “Lazy.” Then as Byrne popped out the first strings to the Talking Heads number, “I Zimbra,” the crowed quickly got up and really began shaking their hips. And this was basically the entire night. Byrne once explained to an interviewer how music can be very physical and how the body reacts before the head. There was even a man dressed in a big suit dancing, but most likely he was sweating his ass off, since it was around 80 degrees and sunny. Byrne did not let his older audience down, by playing the pleasing Talking Heads classics like “Once in a Lifetime” and “Burning Down the House.” Even though Byrne played many of his old hits, he still performed many songs from the Brian Eno co-produced, American Utopia. Usually when an older artist will release a newer album during a tour, they will hardly play anything from it. A great example, is Weezer hardly playing anything off Pacific Dream during their current 2018 summer tour, which just goes to show how bad of an album it is. However, Byrne has maintained his relevancy in the music world with his latest release and past collaborative albums with artists such as Eno and St. Vincent.

The American Utopia songs were just as good as the Talking Heads favorites. One of the more unexpected parts of the night was when Byrne went full-’90s industrial Bowie, during the chorus of “I Dance Like This.” There were also flashing lights in sync with the zapping soundscape during the chorus, which was like seeing a deleted scene from Twin Peaks: The Return.

David Byrne and his 11-member band performed a mix of Byrne’s solo work and songs from Talking Heads. PHOTO BY: WARREN LINHART

Seeing the stage was like looking through a microscope and watching organisms moving in clumps, dancing, and posing while on a plain gray minimal stage. Jumping from heavy funk, covers, and collaborations, Byrne even brought politics into his show, but it was not as radical as people might assume. Byrne encouraged younger people between the age of 18-29 years old, to vote and said, “We can’t call ourselves a democracy if we don’t fucking turn up.” Closing the show, Byrne did a rendition of Janelle Monáe’s 2015 protest anthem, “Hell You Talmbout,” which addressed the brutality from law enforcement and radical violence towards African-Americans. The performance, especially while naming the victims of the deceased was hypnotic and theatrical, as it could have just kept going and going. It was so enchanting, you were lost in the moment.

With how amusing and perfectly choreographed the show was, experiencing Byrne’s 2018 tour is not far from experiencing the Hollywood Pantages Theatre shows in 1983, which those performances were featured in the influential concert film, Stop Making Sense. For an artist such as Byrne, who has been in the music business for over 40 years, it is unexpected, but inspiring how an older artist such as him can maintain connection and influence still through his music and mesmerizing live shows. When the musicians would rearrange themselves and proceed in circles, it was like witnessing a marching band cult in the woods, with Byrne as their leader. This was no ordinary concert. It was an unprecedented religious experience, where everyone danced splendidly. In 2018, it all still makes sense.

Benjamin Clementine @ CMAC Setlist 8/5/2018:

  1. Ave Dreamer
  2. Phantom of Aleppoville
  3. One Awkward Fish
  4. London
  5. Adios
  6. Condolence
  7. I Won’t Complain

David Byrne @ CMAC Setlist 8/5/2018: 

  1. Here
  2. Lazy
  3. I Zimbra (Talking Heads song)
  4. Slippery People (Talking Heads song)
  5. I Should Watch TV (David Byrne and St. Vincent cover)
  6. Dog’s Mind
  7. Everybody’s Coming to My House
  8. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads song)
  9. Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads song)
  10. Doing the Right Thing
  11. Toe Jam (The Brighton Port Authority cover)
  12. Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads song)
  13. I Dance Like This
  14. Bullet
  15. Every Day is a Miracle
  16. Like Humans Do
  17. Blind (Talking Heads song)
  18. Burning Down the House (Talking Heads song)

Encore 1:

  1. Dancing Together
  2. The Great Curve (Talking Heads song)

Encore 2:

  1. Hell You Talmbout (Janelle Monáe cover)

In Defense of These Poorly Received Albums

15 big ones
Brother/Reprise Records

There are critics who give bad reviews, then there are critics who go as far as writing reviews like this. However, as bad as an album is received by critics, you should never let other reviewers influence your opinion towards an album. It might sound cliché, but this happens all the time with music listeners.There will be people who will not even bother with an album just because either “the internet’s busiest music nerd,” Anthony Fantano did not wear his yellow striped flannel or Pitchfork scored it a zero, with a review that has nothing to do with the album. Nonetheless, even if the album is terrible, always look for something in the album you like. For example, Liz Phair’s 2003 self-titled album is the worst thing she ever released. How the hell can a prominent influential artist like Phair turn into Avril Lavigne and make music considered teen pop? But if I heard this song in an episode of Gilmore Girls, not knowing it was Phair, I probably would not mind her pleading vocals. It is okay for good artists to make bad music. However, maybe that considered “bad music” is not so bad after all. Here are six albums critics and listeners should reconsider.

6. Lou Reed and Metallica – Lulu (2011) 

Lou Reed and Metallica - Lulu.jpg
Warner Bros./Vertigo Records

According to some Lou Reed and many Metallica fans, this is one of the most unlistenable albums of all time. Apparently, it is worse than Metal Machine Music (1975). As I am sure Reed has influenced Metallica, you would never think, especially so late in their careers, these artists would collaborate. Just thinking about this you would assume it would be awful; like everybody did. However, both Reed and Metallica have never gave a shit about what they have released. They are both freeform and have no boundaries. Mostly the people who criticized the album are hardcore Metallica fans. According to Reed, some of these fans apparently even threatened to shoot him due to the collaboration. This album isn’t for everybody, it is more sophisticated. Reed did not care if he released an awful album or not, he is use to the experimentation. Metallica definitely needed to try something new. They have been releasing the same sounding thrash metal albums for decades, which are not bad, but they get old after a while. As Metallica has never explored the realm of avant-garde, Reed was familiar and showed them the way.

Mostly the album consists of spoken word delivered by Reed surrounded by instrumentals from Metallica and an additional string section. That acoustic guitar at the beginning probably made some Metallica fans stop listening. Even though James Hetfield’s background vocals are unfitting when paired with Reed’s vocals, it is definitely challenging artistically. The chemistry doesn’t begin until the single, “The View” and is at its prime on “Iced Honey.” The ending of “Pumping Blood” is clever, as it reflects text painting with the instrumentals adding visuals to Reed’s intense lyrics. The messy momentus “Mistress Dread” features a stereotypical thrash riff, as Reed sings like he knows his death is near.

According to Reed’s widow, Laurie Anderson, the late David Bowie has referred to Lulu to be Reed’s “greatest work.”

For this album, just imagine Reed posing as John Cale and Metallica as the Velvet Underground, influencing metal rather than punk. It is 77 minutes of an aggressive and harsh sounding Reed and Metallica at their most intricate.

5. Jet – Shine On (2006) 

Jet shine on.jpg
Atlantic/Capitol Records

An album must be pretty bad when a popular music outlet gives it a score of a monkey urinating in its own mouth. It is nothing like the superb debut, Get Born (2003), but it still includes some bangers. The more striking songs such as “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” and “That’s All Lies” both hit you right in the mouth, making them unforgettable. They’re the songs that belong in an EA Sports video game series. Some of the softer pop pieces such as “Bring it on Back” and “King Horses” both try to be the “Look What You’ve Done” on the album. The title track has the band trying to sound like Oasis, trying to sound like the Beatles. The song was in dedication to the late father of frontman, Nic and drummer, Chris Cester, which explains the gospel choir featured in the song. Speaking of Oasis, “Hey Kids” sounds like if Bon Scott (AC/DC) covered “Live Forever.” Even though “Stand Up” is repetitive and sounds typical, there is grungy distortion in the bridge. It doesn’t fit, but it is appealing. The anthem, “Rip it Up” features a twisted choppy guitar riff with Nic Cester’s screaming vocals. It was the perfect theme for a WWE pay-per-view. The ending of the album (“Shiny Magazine,” “Elanor,” “All You Have to Do”) sounds like the band found unreleased Beatles recordings at a garage sale and released it.

Jet might have sounded like a heavy hitting rock and roll outfit trying to sound like AC/DC or Led Zeppelin on their debut, but they matured with their sophomore release. And for an outlet like Pitchfork to give this album such a harsh review, it is a bit hypocritical. Pitchfork gave a lot of low scores to post-punk and garage rock revival groups in the 2000’s, such as Jet and the Vines. They referred to these groups to be “unoriginal” but when Jet finally tries something new, they are condemned. Shine On may not be a classic rock and roll album like its predecessor, but it is definitely no zero.

4. Genesis – …Calling All Stations… (1997) 

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Atlantic/Virgin Records

Genesis went through many stages throughout their career. They were one of the most astonishing progressive rock bands in the early seventies, thanks to frontman, Peter Gabriel’s theatrics. When Gabriel left in 1975, Genesis did not really alter their sound, with drummer, Phil Collins, ironically continuing Gabriel’s vocal approach. During this transitional period, Genesis released some of their finest albums including, A Trick of the Tail (1976) and Wind & Wuthering  (1976). After guitarist, Steve Hackett opted-out in 1977, Genesis, now a trio, had founded new sound. They hopped on the progressive pop bandwagon and became commercially successful throughout the eighties, especially with Phil Collins attracting much attention to the group due to his successful solo career.

Following Collins’s departure in 1996, keyboardist, Tony Banks, and guitarist/bassist, Mike Rutherford kept the Genesis name alive and released one last final studio album.

Ray Wilson, previous frontman of the influential Scottish grunge group, Stiltskin auditioned soon after Collins left. Wilson’s dark and dramatic vocals fit the glowing atmospheric synths and bass. This was evident on the worldbeat single, “Congo.” Wilson’s vocals fit immensely and even sounds a bit like Gabriel. His vocals become stronger on “Not About Us” when the instrumentals are all balanced. It is no wonder why this album is similar to Genesis’s …And Then There Were Three… from 1977. Both albums include the band as a trio with shadowy ambient instrumentals and stirring lyrics.

Like many late albums in a band’s discography, this album was ignored by fans and critics. Some must have assumed it was going to sound too awfully modern due to having young lead singer. This was also happening at the same time when Van Halen hired their third lead singer, Gary Cherone, to record Van Halen III.

Maybe what is bad about this album is that it sounds like a Tony Banks solo record with Wilson’s vocals. Banks’s synths completely dominate the entire record and sound repetitive. On “Alien Afternoon” there is a guitar solo occurring in the background from Rutherford, which is extremely overshadowed by Banks’ synths. Not to say, that makes this a bad album, but it is understandable why some people stayed away from it.

3. Kiss – Music from the Elder (1981) 

The elder album cover.jpg
Casablanca Records

Music from the Elder came in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some say, this is when Kiss truly hit rock bottom and lost their place in music.

In 1981, the music world was changing. Power pop, new wave, post-punk, and hardcore punk were at its peak, while hair metal was on the rise. Progressive rock bands lost the battle to punk bands. Many legendary progressive rock bands such as Yes and Genesis, changed their sound to pop, appealing to mainstream audiences.

There was major pressure on Kiss as they were transitioning into the eighties. They weren’t releasing quality albums such as Destroyer (1976) and Love Gun (1977) like they were in their heyday, which meant poor record sales. And the firing of drummer, Peter Criss, impacted the group especially guitarist, Ace Frehley.

They needed to release something big for a comeback to regain their stardom. In an effort to recover their hard rock sound, the group thought (mainly Simmons and Stanley) to release a heavy progressive rock concept album. With as cool as that sounds, this style of music was completely unrelated to the mainstream and was not connecting with listeners as it once did. The album irritated their fanbase and label and soon, disappeared quickly from the charts.

This is also, where the group’s drama was at its height. Producer, Bob Ezrin, was on a roll, after producing Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1979. However, he was battling a cocaine addiction during the sessions for Music from the Elder, which impacted the album. Frehley was absolutely disgusted by the domination of bassist, Gene Simmons and singer/guitarist, Paul Stanley and expressed anger with the album before going into recording.

Despite all the drama and negativity that was going on, this album wasn’t exactly a huge blow. Even though the concept of the album sounds like a low-budget 1980’s fantasy movie that tells a story of the enlisting and training of a boy who is recruited by the Council of Elders, to fight evil, the album is rebelling to what Kiss is supposed to release.

“The Oath” opens the album, with a booming bass and dominating guitar riff. Stanley sings in falsetto, which is cringworthy live with Simmons backing him. However, it doesn’t sound as bad on the album version. Stanley uses this vocal technique on several tracks of the album, which most likely didn’t sit well with fans since he hardly sung with his original roaring voice. Stanley’s best vocals come up on “Odyssey,” where he does his best imitation of Peter Gabriel, from the early stage of Genesis. The Medieval-esque “Under the Rose” with its chanting harmonic backup vocals is one of the most stunning pieces Kiss ever recorded.

Yes, this album is completely dominated by Stanley and Simmons, in which every album to follow is, but Frehley still upstaged his bandmates. He only sings lead vocals on “Dark Light” which includes African beats in accompany to an unfitting, but excellent guitar solo. Frehley later shreds like he has never before on the instrumental track, “Escape from the Island.” Frehley probably knew it would be his last recording with Kiss and his riffs sound like they were expressed through rage and frustration.

It is weird to imagine a shock rock group working with an orchestra. This definitely isn’t their best album, nor is it their worst. It is a safe album for a group, that was going through one of the most ugliest periods for a rock band in music history.

2. The Beach Boys – 15 Big Ones (1976)

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Brother/Reprise Record

Summer in Paradise (1992) is surly the worst thing the Beach Boys ever released. Yet to some, 15 Big Ones is right there too. After the soul and blues era, which featured guitarist, Blondie Chaplin and drummer, Ricky Fataar from the South African group, the Flames, the Beach Boys were lost. They did not have a creative direction and did not know how to compete with the corporate rock take over of the seventies. They needed their leader, Brian Wilson back. Bringing Brian back, meant big things in marketing for the group. A media campaign, “Brian’s Back”, was designed to promote Brian’s return as a touring member and active producer for the band. This was Wilson’s first time exclusively as producer since Pet Sounds (1966). And after a live album and four compilations, the band owed their fans something big.

Brian wanted to record a doop wop and rock and roll record, but brothers, Dennis and Carl Wilson opposed. However, this what the album came out to be. Half the album was filled with rock and roll covers for nostalgia, the other half was original material. Mike Love and Al Jardine wanted the album out as soon as possible because they wanted to resurrect themselves in popularity. Dennis and Carl meant to cover songs as a warm-up for Brian to get back into the process and did not anticipate the album would be half of covers. This didn’t please fans, nor did it please Dennis and Carl Wilson, who were embarrassed and ashamed.

There are reports where after Brian recorded a song, he just wanted to call it finish and release it, which contradicts his recording values. This is the same man that once recorded a single, using 90 hours of recording tape.

This album may not live up to the hype which preceded it, but it is still not as bad as people refer to it as. Their hard-hitting cover of Chuck Berry’s “Rock & Roll Music” is just as good as the original, which should’ve pleased listeners mostly for the backing harmonies. Yes, Love’s nasally voice is present on tracks like “Had to Phone Ya,” but some of his best vocals come on the original written “Everyone’s in Love with You.” The best track is the stirring and catchy “That Same Song,” which features buzzing synths alluding to the synth pop association with their followup release, Love You (1977). The group expresses their goofiness in the opening of “T M Song.” Being short and simple, Jardine drives vocally in both intensity and coolness, along with a smooth saxophone and organ underneath. People like to bash “Susie Cincinnati.” Lyrically, it may be idiotic, but the instrumentals and backing vocals are incredible. Their cover of Freddy Canon’s “Palisades Park,” features some moving synth lines that are Spongebob-esque and a spinning psychedelic organ section similar to the one featured in “Amusement Parks U.S.A.”

The more you listen to this album, the more it grows on you. You can say that about any album, but here you catch things you did not hear before underneath all those sweet harmonies.

1. The Velvet Underground – Squeeze (1973)

vu squeeze
Polydor Records

First, people who dismiss or criticize this album have never even listened to it. It does not feature any of the original members of the Velvet Underground; it was the end of the Lou Reed era. Second, this is only a VU album by name. It is solely a Doug Yule solo record.

After Lou Reed left in 1970, guitarist, Sterling Morrison, abandoned the group while on tour, to study at the University of Texas. The group’s manager and presumably VU villain, Steve Sesnick, received permission from Polydor Records to record one final VU album. Sesnick was also was making the environment toxic, which is why Reed left the group. After touring Loaded (1970), the remaining members were dismissed by Sesnick, and the album was recorded only with Yule. There were outside members including Deep Purple’s drummer, Ian Paice, that came and gone throughout the sessions. Since Yule is a skilled multi-instrumentalist and played a significant role on the group’s last album, Squeeze is just a continuation of that. What’s different is Yule does not echo Reed’s vocal style or satire like he did on past tracks like “Who Loves the Sun” or “Lonesome Cowboy Bill.” The album was an approach towards the mainstream, which didn’t allow any of the original VU traits, which is what Sesnick’s main intention was when he started managing the group in 1967.

Yule sounds like he is imitating the Grateful Dead at some moments, particularly on the opening track, “Little Jack.” The grooves pick up on the electrifying “Caroline,” which sounds like it could have been a classic Beach Boys song. Not because of the name, Caroline, but because of Yule’s own backing vocals and surf rock guitar strings. The track “Dopey Joe,” is a bit ridiculous, but it features sensational backing vocals from a few unidentified female singers and it is accompanied by a peppy saxophone. However at the end, there is a guitar solo in the background, that the saxophone upstages, which sounds like the one featured in “Rock & Roll” off Loaded (1970). The catchy “She’ll Make You Cry” features a Joe Walsh-esque guitar solo. This song is the highlight of the album, which should make listeners re-evaluate Yule’s impact in the group.

Even though this album leaps in different directions, where he tries to be original, but sometimes tries to sound too much like the Beatles, the songs are repetitive. The instrumentals are predictive. It is typical. Not that there’s anything wrong with recording a normal contemporary album that fits the standard early seventies sound for commercial value. However, the problem is it is under a name that has broken boundaries and has been one of the most innovative bands of all time. Sadly, this record did not kick start Yule’s solo career, it deemed him as being one of the worst things to happen to the VU. Maybe if it was a stand-alone solo effort from Yule, it would be treated better.


Interpol Previews Upcoming Album, ‘Marauder” With New Single, “The Rover”interpol-preview-new-lp-marauder-with-searing-song-the-rover-1051634

Interpol have announced their upcoming sixth studio album, Marauder, out August 24 via Matador Records. To preview their upcoming album, Interpol released the first single, “The Rover” which is a nod to the band’s early sound, which has come and gone throughout their career.

Interpol-The-Rover.jpg
Matador Records

“The Rover” opens with a sharp and swingy single-string guitar, which sounds like it could have been from the group’s excellent sophomore album, Antics (2005). When the music finally all comes together, there is an overlaying of riffs, all chaotically united. One underlying the many rhythms, sounds like the sparkling and fast-paced riff from the classic, “Say Hello to the Angels.” Under catchy hooks and spiraling drums, Paul Banks’ vocal approach is full of energy, which contrasts the dark lyrics he is singing, such as “Sat in facing southwards we need to die” towards the conclusion of the single. His vocals even sound a bit like his vocal approach towards the climax on “All the Rage Back Homel,” a single from the group’s last studio album, El Pintor (2014). “The Rover” is what Interpol fans have been waiting for since 2007; chilling music with unapologetic lyrics. This is the sound Interpol pioneered to revitalize. This is the sound fans have been waiting to hear again.

Marauder follows Interpol’s last studio album, El Pintor, a slight mediocre, but tolerable album, which was far superior to the depressing and dull Interpol self-titled album, in 2010.

Interpol recently played the single on the recent episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in which they look dapper as always.

Marauder was produced by the legendary sonic producer, David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Spoon), but the touch of his work is not eminent on “The Rover.” Nonetheless, Interpol is known for releasing singles that are upfront and fast-tempo. This was most notably spotted when Interpol released “Barricade,” which doesn’t even belong on the disastrous bleak 2010 self-titled album. Even though, the new single is a classic approach for the group, it doesn’t indicate the upcoming album’s sound as a whole. We’ll just have to see August 24th.

The track listing and cover art (which features a photograph of 1973 U.S. Attorney, General Elliot Richardson, taken by Garry Winogrand) for Marauder are below, as well as Interpol’s upcoming tour dates.

Interpol’s Marauder Track listing

01 – If You Really Love Nothing
02 – The Rover
03 – Complications
04 – Flight of Fancy
05 – Stay in Touch
06 – Interlude 1
07 – Mountain Child
08 – NYSMAW
09 – Surveillance
10 – Number 10
11 – Party’s Over
12 – Interlude 2
13 – It Probably Matters

Matador Records

Interpol’s 2018 Tour Dates

06-25 Vienna, Austria – Arena Wien Open Air
06-26 Sesto al Reghena, Italy – Sexto Nplugged
06-27 Zagreb, Croatia – INmusic Festival
07-01 Glasgow, Scotland – TRNSMT festival
07-05 Roskilde, Denmark – Roskilde Festival
07-07 London, England – Hyde Park w/ the Cure
08-24 Brooklyn, NY – House of Vans
09-14-16 Chicago, IL – Riot Fest
10-04 Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl w/ the Kills and Sunflower Bean
10-06 Berkeley, CA – Greek Theater w/ the Kills and Sunflower Bean
11-06 Tokyo, Japan – Akasaka Blitz
11-14 London, England – Royal Albert Hall
11-24 Copenhagen, Denmark – TAP1
02-16 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden w/ Car Seat Headrest and Snail Mail


The Crust Brothers – Marquee Mark

mccmcm
Telemomo Records

At a show at the Crocodile Cafe, in Seattle on December 5, 1997, Stephen Malkmus, frontman of Pavement at the time, teamed up with another indie rock and lo-fi group, Silkworm. It isn’t surprising Malkmus collaborated with Silkworm back in 1997, since his group and Silkworm had a lot in common. They were both signed with Matador Records at the time and both Malkmus and Silkworm singer, Tim Midyett, beard quite a resemblance in lead vocals. With Malkmus and the group together, they were known as the Crust Brothers.

The Crust Brothers played many shows in the Pacific Northwest (WA, OR), but only one of those were recorded into an album, called Marquee Mark (1998). It was a show in benefit of the Wilderness Coalition, which the group promotes in-between songs throughout the album. The group stuck solely to covers, with Malkmus refusing to play any Pavement songs. Notably, “Summer Babe” was a highly requested song, but Malkmus says at the start of the show, “That’s not going to happen, we’re not playing “Summer Babe.” Silkworm songs were also demanded, where a member from Silkworm says to the crowd after the opener, “Next person who shouts out a Pavement song or Silkworm song, just hit them over the head.” Nonetheless, the band gives in and plays Silkworm’s “Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like,” with Malkmus on lead vocals. Also, with it not really being a cover, ironically, it’s the most organized and cleanest song the band performed.

Out of the twelve songs performed, most were from Bob Dylan and the Band’s popular Basement Tapes (1975). The others were hugely popular classic rock songs, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone” and the Byrds’ “Feel A Whole Better,” which the band totally killed. And on their cover of the famous Byrds’ song, Malkmus makes the melody and lead chords totally feel like “Box Elder,” a classic Pavement track. Their cover of “Bessie Smith,” also echoes the grooves and catchy riffs from Pavement’s 1997 album, Brighten the Corners, which came out months before this show. The ending guitar of “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” also sounds like the ending of Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair.” Malkmus struggles vocally on the amusing “Yazoo Street Scandal,” where you can hear him trying to catch his breath between verses. However, Malkmus finishes one hell of a messy performance, where he nails his best white boy blues impression. “Lo and Behold” sounds like the band trying to make an old Bob Dylan song into Can, an experimental classic krautrock (German) band, that was influential to Malkmus.

The band plays a lot of Dylan, but they deliver a blow to Dylan’s son’s group, the Wallflowers. Right after “Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like,” someone screams out from the crowd, “Wallflowers,” where a member from Silkworm responds with, “Yeah that’s not true, we’re not playing any fucking wallflowers songs tonight…fuck that shit.”

Out of the covers, the top one was their version of “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Music critic Greil Marcus, even went onto call it “…the best version of the song ever played.” Even though the band sounded a bit sloppy throughout the show, this performance was surly their best; they actually sounded like a band rather than some friends screwing around jamming. Malkmus’ notable guitar work is heard throughout the performance, which is just as good as his guitar splashes from his performance of CCR’s “Sinister Purpose” from a 1999 episode of Later… with Jools Holland. 

The band plays a distorted version of the epic “Tuesday’s Gone,” which features a distinct Malkmus guitar solo.

The album ends with an energetic and fast-paced version of “Mrs. Henry.” This performance sounds like the band has succumbed to the effects of alcohol. It’s a whirl of shambles, where it’s almost a bit unlistenable.

During the many jams from the show, you can hear the versatility from members, as they each switched instruments and lead vocals on tracks. At one point, Malkmus was drumming to Dylan’s “Lo and Behold.”

Despite their lack of practice (possibly) and that slacker energy Malkmus commented about at the beginning of the album, you can hear the band enjoying themselves. And that was the point of it all. There’s a party atmosphere due to the group’s raw intensity and sloppy playing. Now, just imagine if Bob Nastanovich, multi-instrumentalist from Pavement, was part of this supergroup; the music would be just as chaotic.

The group played a couple shows throughout the next couple years. The band returned to the Crocodile Cafe on December 31, 2000, and covered Dylan’s “Spanish Harlem Incident,” which was released on Silkworm’s final 2006 EP, Chokes!.

8/10

Favorite tracks: “Going to Acapulco,” “Million Dollar Bash,” “Yazoo Street Scandal,” “Lo and Behold,” “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “Feel a Whole Lot Better,” “Bitch,” “Tuesday’s Gone” 

Least favorite tracks: “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” “Mrs. Henry” 

Listen to the Crust Brothers’ Marquee Mark here.


Queens of the Stone Age Brings it All to the Rochester Dome Arena (5/25/2018)

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After the absolute jaw-dropping drum solo from no other than Jon Theodore, during the crowd favorite, “No One Knows,” Josh Homme, frontman of QOTSA, says to the crowd, “…you have everything, we can possibly give tonight….” Homme and his gang of villains certainly lived up to that promise.

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(Photo Courtesy of the Dome Center)

The evil has landed. It has been four years since Queens of the Stone Age, who are one of the greatest living rock bands of the past few decades, has played in Rochester. Friday night, they took their Villains World Tour to the city, along with Royal Blood as their opening act, at the newly renovated, Dome Center, which is one of the top engineered venues in Western New York. You can actually feel the sound from the band in your soul, which might sound cliché, but you feel like you might have a heart attack. Also, might I add, you are under an operational lighted ceiling, which is 50 feet high.

Most of the crowed weren’t aware of the young duo, Royal Blood. However, when they took the stage and played the lead riff to “Figure it Out,” the crowed engaged fully. Drummer, Ben Thatcher started chugging vodka, right before a monster drum solo, with frontman, Mike Kerr, looking on. As a young band, they’re worth all the attention.

Taking the stage, QOTSA consisting of: Josh Homme, vocals/guitar, Troy Van Leeuwen guitar/synths, Dean Fertita, guitar/keyboards, Michael Shuman, bass, and Jon Theodore, drums, walked out to the Skatt Brothers’ “Walk the Night.” QOTSA is the type of band where if you ran into them at a bar, you have to be careful with how you approach them because they can kick your ass.

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(Photo Courtesy of Joseph Massaro) 

Queens opened with the slightly calm then intense “A Song for the Deaf,” which was unexpected, you would expect something like “Feet Don’t Fail Me” or “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” but the band made the crowed wait for those tracks. They then burst into the catchy and heavy riff of “No One Knows,” which is when some members of the crowd started moshing. The band continued with another track from their 2002 classic album, Songs for the Deaf, with the solid hitting, “First it Giveth.”

After being hit by: three songs for the deaf, people’s dreadlocks and sweaty arms, QOTSA soothed the crowed with the pleasing and grooving, “If I Had a Tail,” where Homme unleashed his full Ginger Elvis swagger.

The band brought Royal Blood onto the stage to show their gratitude for their support as the opening band throughout the Villains World Tour. Soon after, Homme called Rochester “A strange, but beautiful town,” and then dedicated “The Way You Used to Do” to Royal Blood and the city.

The crowd soon turned into dancers like from the television show, Soul Train, when they struck the simple riff of the many syncopated rhythms to “The Way You Used to Do,” the latest boogie rock single from the Villains album.

After the drugs kicked in for everybody, the band played the oldie, but goodie, “You Can’t Quit Me Baby.” Van Leeuwen and Homme, mesmerized the crowed by showing off their guitar skills, which transitioned right into Homme busting out strings to “The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret.”

There were no bothersome photographers near the stage, which was lucky for them, especially when Homme broke into his guitar solo during “The Evil Has Landed.” Homme is notorious for once kicking a female photographer in the face last year.

Queens played the underrated “Long Slow Goodbye,” making it their tour debut. Followed by another Lullabies to Paralyze (2005) track, “Burn the Witch,” which the singing from the crowed overshadowed Homme’s vocals.

Later, the crowed were all in motion like an ocean wave to the sexy strutting to “Smooth Sailing.” Finally, the band ended their set with the punchy crowed-pleasing anthem “Little Sister” that made the crowed demand even more from Homme and company.

Returning for the encore, Queens excited the crowed with the Nick Oliveri-favorite, “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire,” with Homme on vocals. After hearing the vigorous opening riff to “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” I looked at the guy next to me and said, “oh, shit” because if you weren’t moshing throughout the show, you would be now. Thank God, I wasn’t in the front row, or I would’ve been crushed up against the railing. During this, Homme sung some portions to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” which Queens covered back in 2007.

Lastly, QOTSA ended the night with their superior anthem, “Go With the Flow,” which serves the momentum only Queens can offer in one night.

Countless rock shows have been played at the Dome Arena such as Primus and Clutch, but no shows before compare to what Queens accomplished in a night. They gave it all they had, coming across as stirring and slick at the same time. This is a hard thing to accomplish and only one band can do that and that’s QOTSA.

Queens of the Stone Set list at Dome Arena, Rochester, NY (5/25/2018) 

  1. A Song for the Deaf
  2. No One Knows
  3. First it Giveth
  4. If I Had a Tail
  5. My God is the Sun
  6. Feet Don’t Fail Me
  7. The Way You Used to Do
  8. You Can’t Quit Me Baby
  9. The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret
  10. The Evil Has Landed
  11. Long Slow Goodbye (tour debut)
  12. Burn the Witch
  13. Make It Wit Chu
  14. Domesticated Animals
  15. Smooth Sailing
  16. Little Sister

Encore

  1. You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
  2. Feel Good Hit of the Summer (w/ snippet of Billy Idol’s White Wedding)
  3. Go With the Flow

WATCH OUT: This Man Doesn’t Like One of the Greatest Albums of All Time

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Andrew Spencer, 19, doesn’t like the Velvet Underground’s classic 1970 album, Loaded, and guess what?

He doesn’t care what you have to say about it.

In a viral thread on the beloved Lou Reed and VU Bananaposting Facebook page, Spencer wrote, “It’s the band exerting the least possible amount of potential to put out an album of ‘hits’. It has essentially none of the creativity of the first two albums, much less the first three.”

This caused quite a concern among fellow shitposters of the page and even went so far that Doug Yule, a talented musician who joined the VU in 1968, after replacing John Cale, was brought into discussion and received nothing, but unpleasant comments from Spencer.

“He marked the downturn in quality for the band,” writes Spencer, showing his utter disgust with Yule.

Spencer is a big fan of the first two VU albums (The Velvet Underground and Nico, White Light/White Heat), which both featured John Cale and not Yule, thus Spencer’s hate isn’t surprising. Especially, since he traveled hours to see Cale perform in New York City last year.

The problem isn’t that Spencer hates Yule, but it’s fact that he doesn’t like how the VU went a different direction in 1970 and had a change in sound, after a prominent member of the group left.

When something like this happens to a band, they have no choice, but to seek a different style. And since those first two records weren’t successful in the mainstream, when they were released, why not seek a more radio-friendly sound?

Spencer think’s he’s so hip with his boots and banana shirt dividing and mocking fans, who enjoy music that doesn’t sound like a vacuum cleaner sucking Spotify ads like this.

Nonetheless, this isn’t Spencer’s opinion at all.

Yes, he prefers the first albums compared to Loaded, but he only did this to piss off fans of the album and probably attract depressed females, who sit around Pinterest all day.

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After being exposed to millions, Spencer fleed to New York City, most likely to the Brooklyn Museum to seek guidance from a bunch of David Bowie mannequins.

If you see this man, please hand him a copy of Loaded and tell him in an ugly British accent, to fuck you, Loaded is a great VU album and then throw a copy of their last studio album, Squeeze (1973), which is literally a Doug Yule solo album, in his face, until he cries.

This is how you defeat madmen like him.

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Maybe people would rather listen to some good ol’ rock and roll, rather than a spoken word about poor old Waldo Jeffers, who had no insight.

Cool it down Andy, and have fun.


Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Sparkle Hard

Matador Records

The fact that Stephen Malkmus has remained relevant than his 90’s contemporaries is pretty unbelievable. You would think an indie musician of such prominence and considered by some to be the Lou Reed of the 90’s, would eventually become irrelevant decades later. However, Malkmus has always been progressive with his music and has been active via social media, where he’ll occasionally tweet about sports and politics. Even though, there has been some cringeworthy dad-moments (to a good cause), and he enjoys fantasy sports as much as any average white guy, Malkmus has never had a crash in his career. In fact, over seventeen years adding to his reputation of six exceptionally consistent Jicks albums and potential Pavement reunion trolling, Malkmus along with his jerks and dicks, have never sounded more fresh than they do on Sparkle Hard.

Malkmus has always wanted to keep Pavement in the 90’s. And since Malkmus can’t give us an answer on a potential Pavement reunion for their 30th anniversary in 2019, he can at least deliver his best post-Pavement album. S.M. & the Jicks (Mike Clark, keyboards, Joanna Bolme, bass, and Jake Morris, drums) are abruptly at the top of their game and why let something from the past get in the way of it. Besides, this is the Jicks album Pavement fans have been waiting for.

Like Pavement’s “Spit on a Stranger,” the opener of Pavement’s last studio album, Terror Twilight (1999), “Cast Off” shows Malkmus at his most vulnerable, as you pity his gloomy vocals. In contrast, “Future Suite” is more upbeat, as it includes a leaping rhythm with choppy guitars, which could’ve fit nicely on Mirror Traffic (2011). The track is reminiscent of the War on the Drugs, hence it’s Americana guitar solo near the end. At the end, over a spiraling guitar (see what I did there?), a steady beat, and some overdubbed vocals, Malkmus sings, “Before my dime, we’ll see / everybody knows that he’s coming out the execution tree” – which is just as ambiguous as any Malkmus lyric. “Solid Silk” features an enormous string section, which upstages Malkmus’ vocals and keeps the track in its place. Malkmus delivers a hard hitting track in lo-fi, a nod to his old musical style, on “Bike Lane.” It deals with the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old African American who died while in police custody in 2015 (“the cops that killed Freddie / sweet young Freddie Gray / got behind him with the truncheons and choked the life right out of him”). Next to “Embassy Row,” it’s one of Malkmus’ most politically charged songs. It also sounds like it could’ve been from one of the early Pavement EPs, with it’s distorted krautrock rhythm. “Middle America” signals the #MeToo movement, as it includes lyrics like “Men are scum, I won’t deny / may you be shit-faced the day you die.” As the lead single, it’s one of most Pavement-esque tracks on the album, which is a good marketing trick from the label. The opening riff is reminiscent of the classic, “Range Life” and the melody is a mash of “Zurich is Stained” and “Newark Wilder.” And when Malkmus sings: ““The heir apparent just might try / you know you should be winning” it sounds like a tribute to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” It’s acoustically warm, but you can hear Malkmus’ forceful vocals, as the song becomes intensely deeper in the end.

Throughout the album, you know Malkmus is going to experiment, given his recent acoustic set for Pitchfork. According to a recent Washington Post interview, Malkmus discussed how his label, Matador Records, prevented him from going deeper into experimentation by playing keyboards and using drum machines over some of the tracks, in favor of a more “on-brand Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks record.” It’s ironic when an independent label denies access for a musician that helped popularized that label,  for more bands to sign, with one of the greatest debut albums of all time. Who knows, we could’ve had a whole album of “Robyn Turns 26.” Nevertheless, Malkmus’ experimental side showed up on “Rattler.” Here, Malkmus uses auto-tune and synthesizers over thunderous Wowee Zowee drums. The fuzzy “Shiggy” sounds like an unreleased track from Crooked Rain Crooked Rain (1994), as it echoes “Elevate Me Later.” The album reaches it’s peak with the Silkworm-inspired “Kite.” With an acoustic introduction, the song later grooves into a jam featuring a Mellotron and dueling solos. During the transition, you can hear bits of Pavement tracks such as “Half a Canyon” and this performance of “Folk Jam.” There’s a lot going on here, such as one of the best vocal approaches ever from Malkmus and harmonized and falsetto “doo doo doo” backing vocals before the serpentine psychedelia guitar solo. You can hear Malkmus’ forceful guitar playing, as he is letting out his inner-Eddie Van Halen (yeah, he’s that good), but eventually, slows things down with the Mellotron fading out. “Brethren” starts out like something the Who would’ve released on The Who Sell Out (1967). Later, Malkmus flirts with some vocal effects again, sounding like a vocoder version of Julian Casablancas. With being discordant, this would’ve fit perfectly on Pavement’s assorted 1995 album, Wowee Zowee. “Refute” is a lovely hipster-imagined twangy duet, featuring Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. As Malkmus fiddles about marriage and infidelity, the lyrics seem fitting for Gordon, given her 2011 divorce from former husband and Sonic Youth bandmate, Thurston Moore. During the bridge, when Gordon sings “Marry on, children / but be aware, the world doesn’t want you anymore” she sounds like a goddess, who seems remindful with the message. The album closes with the unwieldy “Difficulties – Let Them Eat Vowels.” “Difficulties” sounds like something from the self-titled debut, with its drifting instrumentation. Sliding to the funky “Let The Eat Vowels,” it sounds like Malkmus was listening to a lot of Clor during the recording of this song and his old track, “Sheets.” There is also a swirling melody, which sounds like the Kinks’ “Monica,” but sadly, Malkmus doesn’t seem like a guy who would be into the Kinks. It ends in a twisting and chaotic jam, where Malkmus attempts his best Zappa impression.

As Malkmus releases a record, showcasing a style he helped pioneer, nevertheless, there’s a lot he has yet to unleash. Given the experimentation on a few tracks, there’s definitely an electronic album Malkmus is dying to release. Let’s just hope in the near future, Matador will let him release it. Let’s also dream for Matador to finally release Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal edition, like they were supposed to nine years ago. For the time being, the best S.M. & the Jicks album will do.

9/10

Favorite tracks: “Bike Lane,” “Middle America,” “Rattler,” “Shiggy,” “Kite,” “Difficulties – Let Them Eat Vowels” 

Least favorite tracks: “Brethren” 

You can listen to Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks’ Sparkle Hard here


Rochester’s Smallest Record Store

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Hi Fi Lounge, located on 1822 Monroe Ave.
(Photo Credit: Hi Fi Lounge)

In Rochester, there are numerous record stores to go to, such as Record Archive and the House of Guitars. However, none of those bigger record stores come close in quality and excellence to Rochester’s smallest record store; Hi Fi Lounge.

Located in the town of Brighton, next to Pontillo’s Pizza, Hi Fi Lounge differs from the bigger Rochester record stores. They place emphasis on their audio equipment and the value of their records, rather than pushing other products in their store, such as vintage t-shirts, movies, or custom alcohol – their focus is solely on the music.

If you’re a fan of the movie, “High Fidelity” (2000), a movie popular among record buffs, then the closest Rochester record store to Rob Gordon’s is Hi Fi Lounge.

Mark Kaidy, owner/operator of Hi Fi Lounge.
(Photo Credit: Hi Fi Lounge)

Mark Kaidy, 57, owner and manager of Hi Fi Lounge, has been running the business since 1986. Being in the music retail field for a long time, Kaidy became an audio gear and record enthusiast in his teens, whose hobbies have always involved audio.

Hi Fi Lounge began in a simple way. Kaidy used to be a busboy and knew he had to do something with his life. So, he took a flyer and things ended up working out.

Kaidy said, “When CDs came out, I could kind of see the writing on the wall. It’s really hard to believe in this day and age that people were really into CDs.”Hi Fi Lounge started as a CD Exchange on Mt. Hope Avenue, at a time when CDs dominated the market. There were no records or cassettes in the store, only CDs. The store received a lot of media coverage, since they were selling a new music format, that was considered evolutionary at the time.

However, within the recent decade, CDs have declined, due to another revolutionary way to listen to music, with streaming.

When the store moved out to Brighton, Kaidy started selling more vinyl than CDs, due to the vinyl revival. Just like how Kaidy depended on the quality of the CDs sold, he now took that approach towards the used LPs and audio gear.

Kaidy said, “When CDs were out, they weren’t going to be viable by themselves anymore to have a business, so the CDs keep shrinking. Here, there are a lot more records and more than half the business is the gear and fixing and selling it.”

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Selection of used high quality LPs.
(Photo Credit: Joseph Massaro)

What separates a small store like Hi Fi Lounge from other Rochester record stores is their pricing of unique albums, which may be an original or exotic pressing, a bootleg, and a picture disc or colored LP – which are sold at a fair price – playing in the concept of supply and demand among record and audio collectors.

Andrew Spencer, 19, shops occasionally at Hi Fi Lounge. As a vinyl and audio equipment enthusiast himself, he understands how important the quality is of his findings.

Spencer said, “I like their selection of turntables and stereo amplifiers, which are high quality items that they sell. They’re not going to sell you an average sub $100 entry-level turntable. You’re going to find a lot of vintage turntables and stereo equipment that are consumer great, but also higher quality.”

Among shoppers, Hi Fi Lounge is popular with their prices. Just because it’s the Beatles, they’re not selling a Beatles album for around $50. They run an honest business, where if there’s an original pressing of a high-quality record, such as the Cramps’ “Songs the Lord Taught Us” (1980), there’s going to be a reasonable price tag.

Spencer said, “If you buy a bootleg there it’s not going to be a massive amount of money. It’s going to be what a customer would pay for. For example, when an original pressing of the Beatles’ “Revolver” is sold at Hi Fi Lounge, they sell it for less than what other stores may sell it for which is an honest business move and it will gain some returning customers.”

Aside from LPs, another trait which makes Hi Fi Lounge unique is their focus on audio equipment, by supplying repair and set-up services. If you purchase any audio equipment there, including a new cartridge, Kaidy makes sure it matches your record player’s tone arm and offers installation. Most estimates are generally free, but some alarming repairs may require a moderate fee.

Since there aren’t many people who know how to work on turntables and given this is a small record store, this is appealing and rare.

Kaidy said, “A lot of people need their turntables to be worked on and a lot of them don’t realize it. Some younger people who get their parents’ old turntable, which isn’t a bad unit, but since it’s used, it needs service and this is something that differentiates my store from the others.”

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Back room at Hi Fi Lounge 
(Photo Credit: Hi Fi Lounge)

Due to the little space, Hi Fi Lounge may not have a backroom lounge, where alcohol is served and local acts perform, but there is a small listening room in the back, filled with furniture and high tech audio equipment. It’s mainly for when customers want to hear a piece of equipment or album, they are interested in buying.

Record Store Day is usually the biggest day in sales for record stores. It’s the day when customers wait in line for exclusive and limited releases.

This past RSD, Hi Fi Lounge reached its best day in sales, according to Kaidy. The store carried releases, such as David Bowie’s “Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ‘78),” that sold out quickly at other record stores. However, Hi Fi Lounge didn’t carry maybe as many releases as the other stores, but they made sure they had enough copies of the requested ones.

On RSD, Kaidy was also able to put a sign outside his store, closer to the road, promoting the annual event. Generally, he is told by Brighton officials he cannot place a sign closer to the road, which has an impact in recognition and visibility for his business. Luckily, he is right next to a Pontillo’s Pizza.

Kaidy said, “Just from these signs, I have people coming in saying, ‘Oh I didn’t know there was a record store here and being next to Pontillo’s definitely causes some business.”

And since people are going to different record stores on RSD, Hi Fi Lounge was destined to attract a large crowd.

With an increase of sales on RSD, Kaidy said, “It’s not entirely from these signs, since I promote my store through social media, but if people are driving by going to the Bop Shop down the road, and they see Record Store Day and turntables signs out, they become interested.”

Even though Hi Fi Lounge receives excellent reviews from customers and has established a cult following in terms of quality, it has yet to be recognized by others. Being placed in the far back on Monroe Avenue, with no sign close to the road, is hard for potential customers to notice – it is an easy place to miss, even if you GPS it. However, once you find the store and step foot inside, you will always keep coming back.


Record Store Day 2018 Recap

Well, it’s over. Record Store Day a.k.a the day where my wallet gets massacred is over.

Record Store Day is one of the most exciting, but chaotic days for record buyers. You either tremble with anticipation or quiver with rage. It’s the day you can get your hands on some of the most exclusive and limited released records, which are reasonably priced because within a week, that release will go from $7.99 to $29.99. Then imagine how much it’s worth within a few years. And people aren’t necessarily nice. Yes, there is a civil orderly line at the beginning, but as soon as the store opens and people start moving in, all hell breaks loose. There are workers shouting names of releases, while others are fighting over a Corey Feldman 7″ (circa RSD 2017), and a lot of pushing and shoving.

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Record Archive, located in Rochester, NY.

Yes, RSD sounds scary, however, it’s not really that bad. It’s not just about the exclusives, it’s about coming together and celebrating record stores worldwide and how a significant role these record stores play in their communities. Some RSD festivities include: performances from bands, meets and greets, signings, food-trucks, custom beer tasting, designing t-shirts, and the list goes on and on. One of the beautiful things to see are parents with their kids, bonding over vinyls or having older people talking to younger people about an older band, they saw when they were their age. One of the memorable moments I have had from RSD, was back in 2015 (a.k.a the day I lost my RSD virginity), when an older couple approached me, noticing a reissued copy of the Who Sell Out in my hands. The husband told me how he and his wife saw the band around 1967, when the album was released and how really good they were live.

This record store day however, I didn’t have any encounter like that; I was familiar with the field. This year, instead of hanging around record stores all day and discussing music with others, I lead with a more “wham bam thank you m’am” approach. Sadly, I had to work in the afternoon, so fuck you Vision Hyundai Henrietta. However, I did manage to acquire every exclusive record I wanted and find some good $1 records/CD’s.

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Photo Credit: Melissa Frey Photography 

I woke up around 6:45 a.m. I had to borrow my girlfriend’s Rio, so I dropped her off at work and then hit the freeway.

I arrived at my the biggest local record store in Rochester, Record Archive, around 7:45. I waited in line as the doors opened at 9:00. I went over to the exclusives, seeing the chaos I was already familiar with, so I grabbed the Chris Bell “I am the Cosmos / You and Your Sister” 7″ vinyl and rushed to the $1 record bins. There, I had my eyes set on any new wave/power pop albums from the late seventies and early eighties. This year, I made sure to go through every bin thoroughly as last year, I remember seeing a video posted on Facebook of people going through $1 records bins at the Archive, and I saw a copy of the Original Mirrors debut album in a bin I didn’t look through.

I picked up around 20 $1 records including: Herb Alperts !!Going Places!! (1965), Paul and Linda McCartney’s Ram (1971), Traffic’s Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory (1973) and a couple $1 CD’s including Limp Bizkit’s Significant Other (1999) and U2’s Pop (1997).

When returning to the exclusive records. I stumbled over a few exclusives, which weren’t on my list such as Albert Hammond Jr.’s Etchings from Francis Trouble and the MC5 7″ vinyls.

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Some RSD 2018 Exclusives.

Other exclusives I acquired included:

And since neither the Archive or Hi Fi Lounge carried Czarface and MF Doom’s “Man’s Worst Enemy” 7″, I acquired Phoenix’s “Monologue, which makes for my first red heart-shaped 7″ record.

Some records I really wanted, but I couldn’t afford, such as the re-release of Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn and David Bowie’s Welcome To The Blackout (Live in London ’78) 3 x LP. For that Bowie release, I’ll just wait for the CD issue.

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David Bowie’s Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78) Exclusive LP.

I did anticipate getting Parquet Courts “Mardi Gras Beads” w/ “Seems Kind of Silly,” 7″ but I don’t want anymore singles until their upcoming album, Wide Awake, is officially released.

With exclusive and limited releases, I mean you just keep wanting more and more albums. Once you find all the albums from your list, you become satisfied, but desire more.

I fell victim to this, but I bought only one more album. I marked RSD 2018 as my last day buying albums until next RSD, so I finally bought an album I’ve been putting off for a year to get: Devo’s New Traditionalists (1981). Even though it was under $10 and the record was flimsy, I was contented and finally decided to go to work.

Needless to say, this was by far my most successful record store day. Now the long wait till next April begins.

Here’s to the stores that ate my wallet.


Double Feature Saturday: U2 and the Beatles in Laser Light

U2 Laser
U2 in Laser Light at the Strasenburgh Planetarium
(Photo Credit: RMSC)

These days, there is only one place you can find a show featuring U2 and the Beatles in the same night: the Strasenburgh Planetarium.

Every Saturday night, the Strasenburgh Planetarium showcases a double feature of laser shows featuring popular music, ranging from Pink Floyd to Radiohead. This month, the planetarium is featuring music from two of the most influential groups of all time, U2 and the Beatles, in a double feature in laser light.

The man responsible for most of the magic here, is Joe Ricci, a producer of the laser shows. Ricci has been producing laser shows at the planetarium for 30 years.

Ricci said, “Seeing a laser show when I was younger, influenced me to become a producer of these laser shows. I was really interested in the technology behind it.”

Ricci later said, “Most of these shows we have been doing for a long time. We have been just freshening up the ones we have and updating them overtime. We’re trying to get more content in our laser shows, mainly towards the end, such as the effects and theatrical fog, since those are a bigger deal these days with laser shows.”

When you think of laser shows accompanied with music, you immediately think of Pink Floyd, especially since the two have formed a bond, referred to as “Laser Floyd.” However, on Saturdays in April, there are no laser floating pigs or lasers in accompany to twelve songs that go “beep blorp bop beep boop” – only Bono’s intense vocals and the Fab Four.

Not many people showed up at 8:15, at the planetarium for the U2 laser show. Pretty much it was just me, a yelling mother and her kids, and some night joggers. The show included some of U2’s most well-known songs including “Where the Streets Have No Names” and “Beautiful Day.” During the set, there were animated snakes, who appeared as they were coming right at you, when really the laser effects were creating only an illusion. One of my favorite moments from the show came from the track, “Mofo,” where it felt like a dystopian future, in connection to the heavy electronica dance music. The lasers here, felt more like blasters coming at me from some criminal underworld. Also, there was a perfect balance between the bouncy “Sweetest Thing” and the laser effects.

If you’re looking to experiment with drugs to just see the Star Gate sequence from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” don’t drop acid: experience U2 in laser light.

After the show, I found a man in front of me, who seemed almost hypnotic after the closer, “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

Jeff Rich, 55, has been attending the laser shows, since the Strasenburgh Planetarium opened in 1968.

Rich said, “I have seen every laser show here, since I was a kid. I really enjoy seeing the U2 one. My favorite song was the closer, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday.’ There were just so many lights and effects occurring at once, perfectly in sync with the music.”

Since the planetarium has been doing some of the same shows for decades now, Rich is hoping it can become more diverse with their selection of music, such as including an Alan Parson’s Project laser show.

Ricci says the planetarium selects the music, by what is popular and what fits the environment of the dome. Currently, there are no new shows planned for the future.

Rich later said, “Unquestionably, the best laser shows here are Pink Floyd and the Beatles.”

The Beatles in Laser Light at the Strasenburgh Planetarium
(Photo Credit: RMSC)

Around 9:30 p.m., the Beatles laser show drew a much larger crowd and audience members couldn’t wait to hear their favorite Beatles tunes.

The show started with Beatle’s producer, George Martin’s suite of “Pepperland,” segueing into “Magical Mystery Tour.” There were two medleys, both a mix of the Beatles’ early and later material, including “Twist and Shout” and “Back in the USSR,” which included revolving lasers, that were almost too dizzy to keep up with. One of the most memorable moments was during the second medley, when “Octopus’s Garden,” played and of course, there were animation effects depicting sea animals, such as a shark, that made a face like Bruce from “Finding Nemo.” Sadly, there were no sharks with “freaking laser beams attached to their heads,” but the remainder of the show did not disappoint.

Unlike the U2 show, there was an intermission from the music and lasers, showing old Beatles interviews, while projecting images, depicting the band’s career, from Beatlemania to the “Let it Be” sessions. During some of the songs, such as “Across the Universe” and “The Long and Winding Road,” the planetarium showed images from space such as a moving image of the Milky Way Galaxy, which the atmosphere of the dome felt absolute. The night ended with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise),” which was the planetarium’s way of saying goodbye, along with waves of strobe lighting.

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The star projector, “Carl,” operating during a laser show (Photo Credit: RMSC)

With a high-quality sound system producing the music in the planetarium dome, the intensely bright laser lights from Ricci is supported by a background of stars, coming from a star projector, nicknamed “Carl”, named after its manufacturer, the Carl Zeiss Company. The machine has been going strong since 1968, when the planetarium opened. According to Ricci, “Carl” has been referred to as a robot by many, however, it is not a robot because it is under direct control of the show’s operator.

This isn’t just an entertainment throwback from the seventies. This is technology used in an art form, that has progressed and has become more advanced over time.

When Ricci glances over at the audience members midway through shows and notices how astonished they are, he feels excited they’re enjoying the content, since he was the one responsible for their entertainment.

U2 and the Beatles laser shows are occurring throughout the remainder Saturday nights left in April.

The double feature planned for Saturdays next month, includes 70s Laser, containing songs ranging from the Steve Miller Band to Elton John and the headliner will be the ever-popular Pink Floyd laser show, which draws the biggest crowd.


Post-Punk Pioneers, Gang of Four Has Ivanka Trump on the Cover of Their Upcoming EP

CAST / SMILERASSOC / VISUALS

Post-punk pioneers, Gang of Four, are ready to release a new studio album, this summer, their first since 2015’s What Happens Next. As a preview, the group took to social media a glimpse of an upcoming EP, entitled, Complicit, out April 20th, featuring a photograph of First Daughter Ivanka Trump on the cover.

She will also serve as the title of the EP’s second track, “Ivanka (Things You Can’t Have).” The other songs on the EP, also have the impression they are aimed towards the Trump administration, including the opening track, “Lucky.”

Gang of Four founding member, Andy Gill, said, “This track itself is a product of chance. I’d been watching a serious debate on one of those financial news channels – six white men in suits arguing about the stock markets – and it set me thinking about how limited luck can be. A lot of trading is anyway now done by algorithms to try to eliminate the element of chance, but luck isn’t capable of fundamentally changing the system. Even if you believe market crashes are the result of bad luck rather than layer upon layer of human and machine error, the system shudders, restarts and goes on as before.”

Also, in a statement with Pitchfork, Gill said, “When we think of “the media,” everyone has lots of ideas about what we mean. It could be social media, where hundreds of memes criss-cross the world; informing, misinforming, beginning or reinforcing ideas that may last a lifetime and beyond. Ideas about Jews, Muslims, or, say, the world trade centre or perhaps, the criminality of certain American politicians. And then there is the receding traditional media with disappearing jobs like “journalists” and “fact checkers.” That’s the media the Trump family despise.”

The title of the EP is a reference to an interview last April, when CBS’ Gayle King asked Ivanka if she thought she and her husband, Jared Kushner, were “complicit in what is happening in the White House.” Ivanka’s response was “If being complicit is wanting to be a force of good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.” Her answer went viral online and even sparked an SNL skit, starring actress, Scarlett Johansson, as Ivanka.

The forthcoming EP was produced by Gill with assistance from Ben Hillier (Depeche Mode) and Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys). It will comprise of three brand new songs and one remix. View the tracklist below.

Complicit EP Tracklist:

  1. Lucky
  2. Ivanka (Things You Can’t Have)
  3. I’m a Liar
  4. Lucky (10 O’Clock Chemical Remix)

Arctic Monkeys Announce New Album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

(Photo Credit: Zackery Michael)

What could be more pleasing for fans than an international tour? A brand new album.

It’s been five years, since we last heard from the English rockers, Arctic Monkeys. They recently announced their sixth studio album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, out May 11 via Domino Records.

The new album was co-produced by longtime collaborator James Ford and frontman, Alex Turner, and recorded in three cities: Los Angeles, Paris, and London. This album marks the debut of Turner co-producing an Arctic Monkeys full-length.

In an Instagram post, dating back to last January, the group alluded to the font and the design of a tan coffin shape, which plays a role in the cover art of the upcoming album. Due to the atmospheric synthesized strings, the album feels like it could range from space-age rock to blues.

Last March, Turner promised there would be a new single coming, however, there has been no single released for Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, thus far.

You can view the album trailer, tracklist, and cover art below. You can also pre-order the new album on an exclusive silver LP with a gatefold sleeve and 16 page expanded booklet or on CD here.

On the group’s last album in 2013, AM, they flirted with funk, hard rock, and rockabilly, hence Turner’s and the band’s swagger at live appearances. Now, they look like old wise blokes or Turner looks like how Paul McCartney did in the late sixties.

Last January, the group announced an international tour and recently announced extended dates of the tour, including stops in North America. They also reissued their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006), on a multi-colored “smoke” vinyl, including a 16 page full-color lyric and photo booklet via Vinyl Me Please, where it was record of the month.

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino Tracklisting:

  1. Star Treatment
  2. One Point Perspective
  3. American Sports
  4. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
  5. Golden Trunks
  6. Four Out of Five
  7. The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip
  8. Science Fiction
  9. She Looks Like Fun
  10. Batphone
  11. The Ultracheese

Domino Records


Dire Straits will Show up at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Without the Knopflers

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Dire Straits in their early days, in 1978. 

Legendary British rockers, Dire Straits, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last December, along with many greats, including the Cars and the Moody Blues. However, Dire Straits keyboardist, Alan Clark, posted on his website, indicating how it will just be himself and fellow Dire Straits members, John Illsley and Guy Fletcher, showing up to the awards ceremony and not any of the Knopfler brothers or any other members, including original drummer, Pick Withers. Dire Straits without David Knopfler? That isn’t bad. Dire Straits without Mark Knopfler? Now there’s a problem.

Clark also went onto to explain the state of performing at the ceremony. “There’s a lot of conjecture on forums about whether the band is performing at the Hall of Fame,” said Clark. Clark later said, “…we’ll be be performing an unplugged version of ‘Telegraph Road‘ with me on harmonium, Guy on ukulele, John on banjo, and the vocal performed by the three of us as a three part harmony.”

There is no indicator showing why Mark Knopfler isn’t showing up to the ceremony, however, his brother claims the Rock and Roll HOF revoked any travel costs.

In response to a Facebook question,  David Knopfler said, “In their wisdom after promising to pay my expenses they reneged on their promise … I can well understand that with only $5 mil a year in sponsorships and 100k a table and no fees for the artist that paying my taxi to the airport must have given them heart murmurs like Squeers hearing Oliver Twist asking for more and frightened them into refusal otherwise one might get the wrong idea entirely about what they’re all about.”

When further questioned in the comment section by fans and other reporters, David Knopfler simply ended it by saying, ” It’s a great honour to be nominated all the rest is just the usual Faustian BS.” 

There have been issues and controversy over the years concerning the Rock and Roll HOF. We all know about the famous snubs (here’s to you Iron Maiden), the Monkees controversy, and Steve Miller’s infamous speech, concerning the induction process. With more artists calling out and rebelling against the foundation, the more people will not care about it and not tune in to watch the ceremony.

Regardless of your opinion of the Rock and Roll HOF and the who eventually shows up for Dire Straits, the group will be inducted into on April 14, 2018 in Cleveland.

Dire Straits formed in London in 1977, by brothers Mark and David Knopfler, John Illsley, and Pick Withers. They released their debut album in 1978, which included the radio hit, “Sultans of Swing.” However, it wasn’t until their 1980 album, Making Movies, the band grew artistically and was taken serious as a staple in music. With David Knopfler and Withers departing when the band was really taking off, Dire Straits reformed and added new members. Having released Love over Gold in 1982, an EP in 1983, and a live album 1984, the group released the biggest album of their career and one of the best selling albums of all time, Brothers in Arms. It landed on the charts at #1 worldwide and won two Grammy Awards. It included many of the band’s hits such as the assertive Knopfler guitar driven “Money for Nothing” and the bluesy and upbeat “Walk of Life.” The group broke up shortly after this success, but united for one more release in 1991 entitled, On Every Street, before the band broke up for good in 1995. Dire Straits have been truly influential to many artists and their sound draws a combination of musical influences, ranging from blues to jazz and to straight pub and roots rock, which conflicted with the new wave and punk rock sound of the late seventies and early eighties. Nonetheless, the influence of punk on “Industrial Disease” is very much there.


Naked Giants – SLUFF 

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New West Records

Naked Giants, a psychedelic garage and indie rock outfit, from the Seattle music scene, are one of the most eccentric, highly exciting, and alluring bands making music today. Their band logo may look a bit like throwback Nickelodeon show or Binky, but they are the epitome of shredding guitars. They have defined their sound from playing countless shows over the years, from touring with Ron Gallo to Car Seat Headrest. Currently, they are coined by some as one of the best live bands to see for under $20.

Formed in 2014, Naked Giants consists of guitarist/vocalist Grant Mullen, bassist/vocalist Gianni Aiello, and drummer Henry LaVallee. Since the trio is fairly young, in their very-early twenties, they just want to hang loose and enjoy their time as a band.

They released their EP back in 2016, entitled RIP, which included some of their best material such as “Twist” and “Pyramids.” After its release, the band appeared on KEXP, a public radio station based in Seattle, and discussed how they were looking for a record label to release a full-length album.

They found a home at New West Records (Drive-By Truckers, Ron Gallo, and Caroline Rose), where they finally released their first album, simply entitled SLUFF – a very sounding punk title fitting the band’s look. On the album, the band tried capturing the amusing and chaotic live atmosphere, their reputation is built around, which you can definitely hear on the opening track, “Dead/Alien” and “Slow Dance II.” You can also hear many of their influences, ranging from The Stooges to Weezer. They have the typical Seattle grunge sound, which isn’t surprising since their new album was produced by veteran Seattle producer, Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney). SLUFF incorporates the style of music, they and their contemporaries have been recognized for, with a slight tone of blues and white-boy-soul, basically of 60’s garage rock, underlying their fuzzy guitar riffs and effects. It keeps you conscious and moving until the very end.

SLUFF opens with “Dead/Alien,” which incorporates a hyperactive melody and the group’s signature psychedelic guitar effects. With the lo-fi riffs and chorus, it sounds like if Weezer tried imitating Pavement’s “Texas Never Whispers.”

“We’re Alone,” the best track on the album, is bouncy, as it deals with the typical frustration to have sex, which you can hear in Mullen’s vocals. The upbeat “Everybody Thinks They Know” and woozy “TV” were released as early singles and both have a  seventies punk styled approach. However, “TV” breaks into a Zappa freak-out jam, which also shares the energy of the Who’s “Naked Eye” and a whirl of fuzz and distorted guitars. At the end of this, the song returns back to its normal stage, where Mullen’s vocal approach sounds like the sketchbook from Don’t Hug me I’m Scared. “Slow Dance II” is a bluesy breakup song, in which Mullen’s vocals go awfully, but fittingly high. The vocals later become aggressive – leading into an assertive and distressing guitar solo.

One of the most disappointing moments on the album however, comes from the track, “Slide.” There was a ton of anticipation with this track, since it was one of the best songs the group performed live. Along with the choppy guitars and intense vocals, the slide on the bass and guitar is not emphasized the way they should be and the production here, seems to be slowed down. When the countdown vocals begin, the song becomes a mess, even with the pleasing Devo-esque guitar solo.

The title track can serve as the band’s anthem, even though its repetitive. It features a grimy vocal harmony from the group, along with some 90’s Weezer “woo-hoos.” “Goldfish I” features a hazy melody – like any standard 1960’s psychedelic garage rock song. However, the instrumentals start to twist on “Goldfish II.” During its bridge, you’re hit with a gloomy bass line, which descends into an energetic jam, featuring a highly-spirited cowbell. “Dat Boi” is as modern-Nirvana, the band will get. It seems like the instrumentals are pushing to one end to the other, but always returns to that main crunching riff. “Easy Eating,” an early single released in 2016 and on the band’s EP, shows the reverb and punk attitude, the band is all about. It also resembles a similar surf-rock riff the B-52’s used on “Devil in My Car.” Since this is a newly improved version, it sounds very much likes it’s live.

After all the chaos and energy that came before, things start to calm down on the closing track, “Shredded Again” – a nice elegant and slacker soothing song, which shares a similar melody in the chorus when compared to the Kinks’ “Starstruck.”

One song that was hyped for the new album but left off, was the extremely messy jammy “Green Fuzz,” which hopefully is released officially in the future.

Even though, Naked Giants are still considered an underground band and don’t really take themselves that serious, there is no doubt they shouldn’t be considered as worthy or popular as indie acts like Car Seat Headrest or Ty Segall. On SLUFF, they proved to be one of the hottest indie rock bands playing music today, channeling all of their influences and that heavy sounding Northwest music sound.

7.5/10

Favorite tracks: : “Dead/Alien,” “We’re Alone,” “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows),” “Slow Dance II,” “Goldfish II,” “Shredded Again” 

Least favorite tracks: “Slide,” “SLUFF”  

You can listen to Naked Giants’ SLUFF here


Jack White – Boarding House Reach 

Image result for boarding house reach
Third Man Records

Let’s just get it out of the way. Jack White’s highly anticipated third solo studio album, Boarding House Reach, is bizarre. This is far from what was expected. He shedded his skin of traditional blues rock and developed a whole new layer of music that is mystifying. This isn’t implying it’s bad. In fact, it’s White’s best release thus far, as a solo artist

White juggles a lot here. He goes from retro funk to electronic music to hip-hop to complex rock n’ roll with some Ginger Baker’s Air Force and Jeff Beck jazz fusion in the mix and then back to his roots – pure blues and garage rock. There are many sonic experiments on Boarding House Reach, including tracks like “Why Walk a Dog?” and “Get in the Mind Shaft.” In a lot of ways, this is White screwing with his image of what he is supposed to release as an artist. Like many artists do, they experiment and change their sound as they progress, sometimes it goes well, other times, it fails miserably. Since White has established a sound of his own, from his blues influences – of course, he’s going to receive the negative reviews for his new album, if it isn’t consistent like his previous releases. It’s like what other multi-instrumentalists like Beck did on Midnite Vultures (1999) and Todd Rundgren recorded on A Wizard, a True Star (1973). When interviewed during an appearance on KROQ’s The Kevin and Bean Show, White was asked about the decline of rock acts appearing on festival bills. White responded and said, “Rock ‘n’ roll needs an injection of some new young blood to really just knock everybody dead right now.”Let’s just get it out of the way. Jack White’s highly anticipated third solo studio album, Boarding House Reach, is bizarre. This is far from what was expected. He shedded his skin of traditional blues rock and developed a whole new layer of music that is mystifying. This isn’t implying it’s bad. In fact, it’s White’s best release thus far, as a solo artist.

Almost a year after White successfully launched and played a vinyl record in space for the first time, In March of 2017, White alluded to an upcoming album in an interview with The New YorkerHe had set up in a little room, in Nashville Tennessee, writing and recording new songs with a reel-to-reel tape recorder, he bought from mowing lawns, when he was fourteen. He released a track last April entitled, “Battle Cry,” which alludes to the energy on the new album.

Last December, White released the first two singles off the new album, “Connected By Love” and “Respect Commander” along with a mix of sounds called “Servings and Portions from My Boarding House Reach,” previewing the wild album.

Boarding House Reach opens with the lead single, “Connected By Love.” Lyrically, it’s a typical White track, which could’ve been from White’s previous album, Lazaretto in 2014. Nonetheless, White’s soulful vocal approach, along with the gospel choir and the warm synth line under his vocals, sets the mood for the album. “Why Walk a Dog” is a nice calm, but gloomy track, before the sonic storm.

The album peaks in an experimental sonic terrain with “Corporation” – a heavy groovy disoriented track. There’s almost everything featured on the album here: several bridges, White’s signature choppy, samples, and fuzzy guitar leads, multiple layers of piano riffs, dramatic shouts, congas, and drum machines. Towards the end, it even sounds like White is imitating some Rage Against the Machine vocals, especially when singing “Yeah, I’m thinking about doing one giant drop” – previewing how far he can go. There are a couple poems set to music used as segues, including the gracious “Abulia and Akrasia” where blues singer, C.W. Stoneking, makes an appearance on vocals, who just wants another cup of tea before White goes on another instrumental rampage. “Hypermisophoniac” is the perfect song to annoy a common White listener and cleverly, that’s the point. Misophonia is when people react in extreme ways, after hearing a sound they strongly dislike, for example, a fork scratching a plate. This is definitely not a track, you’ll search to listen to, unless you like Beck. With layers of synths and electronics – it’s practically an orgy of strange sounds. There are a couple tracks here, that were supposed to be carried out in past projects. “Ice Station Zebra” originally was from a planned project White started with rapper, Jay-Z. This is the point of the album, where White truly changes his stripes. Named after a 1963 Cold War spy novel, White raps the best lyrics from the album – “If Joe Blow says ‘Yo, you think like Avagio,’ You’ll respond ‘No, that’s an insult, yo’ I live in a vacuum, I ain’t got but no one.” This track resembles how movie director, Edgar Wright, used music in action sequences in his recent film, Baby Driver (2017) – it creates an imagery of robbers committing a heist. “Over and Over and Over” is an abandoned White Stripes track, dating back 13 years ago. It’s the heaviest and most standard track, both in vocals and instrumentals on the album. Artistically, it goes completely backwards. Due to the title of the track, it’s repetitive, but till the end, the intense backing vocals and skittering drums try changing directions, which is a perfect transition to the next track, “Everything You’ve Ever Learned.” This unfortunate too short of a song sounds like it could’ve been a public announcement from the concept of the new Arcade Fire album, with White acting all PBS sinister. Later, the Radiohead’s “bleep blorp bop beep boop” alters into some African drums with a chilly synth line. White’s vocals switch from sponsorship announcer to 2018 Gatorade commercial narrator. One of the best moments on the album is when White screams “Do you wanna start a fire? Well, you can watch it burn!” like he’s Jim Morrison, while the music jumps into a fire pit of chaos, where you can hear a softness of the White Stripes’ “Black Math” between layers of riffs. As White screams “Shut up and learn!” – he’s trying to burn his past image and embrace his new one. On “Respect Commander,” White breaks into a hard rock psychedelic jam, which during the breakbeats, sounds like you’re at the main menu of a video game by PlayStation, but later sounds like White shredding some Led Zeppelin. White speaks low and high in harmony on “Ezmerelda Steals the Show,” which points out why White doesn’t want his audience on their cell phones at concerts with the lyrics – “Their faces to their gadgets fall south / Ignoring the beauty of a fog on a hill.” “Get in the Mind Shaft” opens with some spoken words from White, then develops into a funky electronica, echoing Daft Punk and the Flaming Lips. “What’s Done is Done” repeats the warm synth line the album opens with, while White and country and folk singer, Esther Rose, sing an aching suicide ballad. Everything calms down on the soothing final track, “Humoresque.” It was supposedly written by the legendary gangster, Al Capone and is set to classical music from Czech composer, Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904). White purchased a musical manuscript by Capone, written while he was in Alcatraz. In a cover story with Rolling Stone, White said he was moved by Capone’s affection for “a gentle, beautiful song.” You see White messing with a lot of genres on the new album, but throughout it, you wouldn’t think he’d take on classical music.

The experimentation on Boarding House Reach among fans is divisive, but it’s about time White released an album like this. While, Jack White dives deep into numerous genres and styles of music – his public image as an eccentric rock star however, will always remain.

You can see White generating sonic explosion, his simple head bang, and sporting his traditional long and frizzy hair on April 19th, as he kick starts his spring tour. But remember, no cell phone use and do not attend if you dislike the color blue. For a preview of his upcoming tour, watch his recent show at the Warsaw venue in Brooklyn, NY.

8.5/10

Favorite tracks: : “Connected By Love,” “Corporation,” “Hypermisophoniac,” “Ice Station Zebra,” “Over and Over and Over,” “Everything You’ve Ever Learned,” “Respect Commander,” “Get In the Mind Shaft” 

Least favorite tracks: “Abulia and Akrasia,” “Humoresque” 

You can listen to Jack White’s Boarding House Reach here


Bruno Mars, Jack White, the Weekend, and Arctic Monkeys will Headline Lollapalooza 2018

Bruno Mars and Cardi B Performing at 2018 Grammys (Photo Credit: Kevin Winter) 

Bruno Mars, Jack White, the Weekend, and the Arctic Monkeys, look to headline this year’s Lollapalooza, in Grant Park, Chicago, August 2nd to August 5th.

Like last year’s Lollapalooza line up, which included Chance the Rapper, Arcade Fire, Run the Jewlz, and Lorde, this year’s line up is stacked with artists from all genres of music.

The National, Vampire Weekend, Portugal. The Man, Greta Van Fleet, and Franz Ferdinand are among this year’s rock acts set to perform the long-running festival, which gave light to alternative rock in the nineties. Hip hop acts will include: Lil Uzi Vert, Tyler the Creator, Logic, Lil Pump, Post Malone, and many more. The festival will also feature artists from St. Vincent to Camila Cabello, and over 200 more artists.

This year’s festival will also feature festival founder and Jane’s Addiction lead singer, Perry Farrell. He will perform with an all-star line up of guest musicians for Farrell’s upcoming solo album.

Jack White Performing at 2014 Governors Ball Music Festival. (Photo Credit: Daniel Zuchnik)

Just about almost every artist has something going on in 2018. Bruno Mars is coming off hot, after winning both Album of the Year for 24K Magic (2016) and Record of the Year for the titled track at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. Jack White’s upcoming album, Boarding House Reach, comes out this Friday, Mar. 23, while the Arctic Monkeys just announced their 2018 come back tour, their first since 2014. Arctic Monkeys are expected to announce the release of new music for their sixth studio album in the coming weeks. And another post-punk revival group, Franz Ferdinand recently released their 5th studio album, Always Ascending and embarked on a massive world tour.

Tickets for Lollapalooza are on sale now; Check out the festival’s website for more information.

View the full line-up below.


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(Photo Credit: Autumn De Wilde)

Albert Hammond Jr. Is Really Feeding Into What Strokes Fans Have Demanded for Years

Fans hate when their favorite bands progress. It’s weird right? How can people love their favorite bands making the same styled album every couple years? Bands need to change. However, when bands change, they need to have their original form still incorporated into their changes. NYC based post-punk revivalist gods, the Strokes are a perfect example of this.

In 2003, the Strokes released their highly anticipated sophomore album, Room on Fire. Even though the album delivered some killer tracks such as “12:51,” “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” and the band’s anthem “Reptilia,” critics saw the album too close to the band’s superb debut album, Is This It (2001). In response of this, in 2006, the Strokes released First Impressions of Earth and incorporated a heavier style with steamrolling guitars and went deeper into their songwriting. This is evident on tracks such as “Heart in a Cage” and “Ize of the World” (a great precursor of Julian’s future vocals). Critics however, shot it down and hailed it as one of the most disappointing albums of 2006. In an interview with Lizzy Goodman from Vulture, Hammond said, “With Room on Fire, people were giving us shit because they said we were sounding too much the same. With the third album, we were getting shit that we don’t sound like Room on Fire. We got fucked by the same thing twice!” Ever since then, the Strokes were never the same. Each member started working on side projects and the band just didn’t feel or ever sound the way they once did. Being a fan of the Strokes today is like having two divorced parents, who hate being together and spending time with one another is an obligation.

Each member from the Strokes have been pursuing different solo careers. Frontman, Julian Casablancas, got really into neo-psychedelia and electronic rock, which is evident with his group, the Voidz. Guitarist, Nick Valensi, has a band called CRX, who mostly play stoner rock mixed with power pop. None of these sounds obviously fit the Strokes that we all love and crave. However, guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr., lately has been really feeding into what Strokes fans have been demanding for years – simple garage rock with a DIY punk attitude. And Hammond’s latest album, Francis Trouble, offers this.

The opener of Francis Trouble, “DvsL” sounds like a mix of the Stooges and Television and this is perfect because the Strokes early in their career, were compared to acts like this. Hammond has always had the Strokes method attached to his solo career. “In Transit” is a great example of how he can sound like an unreleased Strokes track.  Sure, Hammond has experimented with his solo work, especially on one of his most recent singles, “Muted Beatings,” – a very new wave track with a bouncy chord progression, but Hammond has never went too far, like his bandmates.

As a solo artist, clearly Hammond admires his dear friend and bandmate, Julian Casablancas. He sounds exactly like Casablancas on “Set To Attack.” And the track, “Strangers” could’ve fit easily on either one of the first two albums.

With other Strokes members on different paths, Hammond seems to be the only one who cares deeply about what the Strokes represent.

Francis Trouble Full Album Review Coming Soon


Second generation post-punk revivalists, Parquet Courts recently announced the release of their sixth studio album, Wide Awake!, out May 18 through Rough Trade Records. On the upcoming album, the band surprisingly collaborated with producer, Danger Mouse. Parquet Courts frontman, Andrew Savage, said “I liked that it didn’t make sense.” Since Danger Mouse is more of a pop producer, you would think, he would’ve changed Parquet Courts’ sound and have them present cleaner instead of raw music – like he did with the Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and most recently, Portugal. The Man. However, on the latest single, you don’t see that change at all. You hear the same bands who have always been influential, such as Black Flag, Gorilla Biscuits, and Pavement. The only change may be a blend of punk and funk – a mix strongly developed by the Clash and influential on the latest single. There’s a quick and heavy guitar riff, assorted with frustration and anticipation from Savage in vocals – especially during the bridge. Like the Hives, you can see Parquet Courts still hanging on to their signature sound. Ty Segall changed, but Parquet Courts seems resistant, but consistently hanging strong. Watch the animated video for “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” and check out the Wide Awake! cover art and track listing below.
RT001_Parquet_Courts_Wide_Awake-1519311286
Rough Trade Records

Parquet Courts – Wide Awake! Track List 

1. “Total Football”
2. “Violence”
3. “Before the Water Gets Too High”
4. “Mardi Gras Beads”
5. “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience”
6. “Freebird II”
7. “Normalization”
8. “Back to Earth”
9. “Wide Awake”
10. “NYC Observation”
11. “Extinction”
12. “Death Will Bring Change”
13. “Tenderness”


The Breeders Show They Can Still Breed Solid Music With New Single

the-breeders
(Photo Credit: Marisa Gesualdi)

Legendary alternative rockers, the Breeders will release their fifth studio album, All Nerve, next week. This is their first release in nine years and unlike the Smashing Pumpkins, this is a true reunion album. It is the same lineup: Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim Macpherson – who released the iconic album,  LastSplash, in 1993, which included the classic 90’s hit, “Cannonball.” Today, the group released the third single, “Nervous Mary,” which is a bass driven track that includes some wicked vocals from Deal – showing further anticipation for the comeback album. All Nerve is out Mar. 2, via 4AD Records. Listen to the latest single, along with the others below.


Billy Corgan Leaks Titles of Eight New Smashing Pumpkins Songs

hi im bill
(Photo Credit: Josh Lowe)

On Presidents Day, Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan took to Instagram teasing new music from the slightly reunited Smashing Pumpkins lineup. In his post, he revealed that he was meeting original Smashing Pumpkins members, Jame Iha and Jimmy Chamberlain in Malibu to record some new songs, after spending a week in Chicago to “refine lyrics.” Corgan later listed the name of eight new Smashing Pumpkins songs. The new tracks include: “Alienation,” “Travels,” “Silvery Sometimes,” “Solara,” “With Sympathy,” “Marchin’ On,” “Knights of Malta,” and “Seek and You Shall Destroy.” Corgan also stated in his post how he has “between 16 and 18 songs” for his upcoming solo album. Sadly, there was no update on Corgan’s recent ownership of the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance), which is what we and especially Ric Flair, really want to know (am I right?).

The relationship between Corgan and original bassist, D’arcy Wretzky is still bitter and confusing. She’s the only original member not involved with the reunion tour. Peter Hook’s (New Order) son, Jack Bates, got hired to play bass instead. This all became controversial when Alternative Nation reported a photoshoot posted online, between Corgan, Iha, and Chamberlain, but no Wretzky? This became controversial and now have fans questioning this “reunion” tour.

The semi-reunited Smashing Pumpkins will embark on the Shiny and Oh So Bright Tour starting in July, with a focus on performing material from their first five studio albums. Pictures from the photoshoot are below.

smashing pumpkins photo shoot Smashing Pumpkins reunion lineup confirmed in new photoshoot


The Beatles – Abbey Road

The cover of Abbey Road has no printed words. It is a photo of the Beatles, in side view, crossing the street in single file.
Apple Records

In February of 1969, the Beatles went into Abbey Road studio to record the last sessions the group would ever record together. Let It Be (1970), might be their last album released, however much of the material was recorded before Abbey Road. On Abbey Road, the Beatles incorporated blues rock (“Oh! Darling,” “You Never Give Me Your Money”), early progressive rock (“I Want You You (She’s So Heavy),” “Because”), and a few cliché sixties Summer of Love styled pop songs (“Here Comes the Sun”). Entirely, this is the Beatles album that is for dads to call the “greatest album of all time,” but lets not go that far. Many might consider it to be one of the best because it’s Beatles collapsing and each member becoming artistically different and dealing with it civilly. Abbey Road is sort of a preview of what each Beatles member would accomplish during their solo career.

Abbey Road opens with the lead single “Come Together,” – the first Beatles song I came to love as a child, when listening to 1 (2000), an album my mother would constantly play. Lennon’s whisper of “shoot” is actually Lennon saying, “shoot me,” followed by a hand-clap, in which McCartney’s elevating thick bass line muffles out “me.” It is followed by the best George Harrison Beatles song, “Something.” It includes very warm vocals and smooth organ playing from Billy Preston, which overshadows Lennon’s piano playing. Frank Sinatra called it “the greatest love song ever written” and he certainly wasn’t wrong. Then comes the quirky and ever-glorious Moog synthy “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” which then transitions into the Beatles echoing a Zappa doop-wop on “Oh! Darling.” It also echoes some early Beatles rhythm and blues/early rock n’ roll songs. Even Ringo gets to sing the brilliantly deep “Octopus’s Garden.” The Beatles aka King Crimson, later pioneer progressive rock on the bluesy “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” with a repetitive guitar riff and white noise from the Moog synthesizer, which has a powerful effect on the piece. The song ends abrupt, after leaving you hypnotic. The group later shows up the Beach Boys in harmony and makes Beethoven rollover on the harpsichord with “Because.” On side two, there is an epic medley, which starts off with the punchy honky-tonk piano driven “You Never Give Me Your Money,” which sounds like a later Paul McCartney solo number. It is followed by the mellow psychedelic “Sun King,” a track similar to “Because,” in an exotic harmony. Then comes the Harry Nilsson influenced  “Mean Mr Mustard.” “Polythene Pam” picks up the energy during the medley with Lennon’s singing and Harrison’s assertive guitar work. The guitar boogie “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” oddly has McCartney playing lead guitar and Harrison playing bass – usually its the other way around. The pleasant “Golden Slumbers,” which has McCartney’s vocals greatly emphasized, as it shares a similar melody to the symphonic “Carry That Weight,” which includes vigorous brass during the bridge, as it also reprises the opener of the medley. The title of the closer, “The End” isn’t the only sign of the band departing. You can tell in the recording especially in the harmony section, it’s the band saying goodbye; it sounds more of a farewell than “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” did. After the energetic but depressing closing track, “The End” the group left another hidden track, “Her Majesty,” but this time instead of it being obnoxiously freighting like it was before, its simply charming.

It might be the most influential Beatles album cover, but its certainty not their best album. The Beatles had a good run throughout the sixties, but since they started experimenting with their sound in the mid-sixties, each member started separating themselves and came to realization that their material was more noteworthy than the other. They were still young and optimistic, but not for Beatles material. This was the end.

9/10 

Favorite Tracks: “Come Together,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” “Octopus’s Garden,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” “Because,” “Mean Mr Mustard,” “Polythene Pam” 

Least Favorite Tracks: “Sun King,” “The End” 

Listen to The Beatles’ Abbey Road here


Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending

The most recent from the Scottish-rockers, Franz Ferdinand, proves that the band has not yet lost their edge in music and are one of the greatest bands to come out of 2000’s – who are still balanced and relevant to this day. We last heard from them in 2016, when they took aim at then-Republican nominee, Donald Trump, with “Demagogue” in their involvement with the 30 Days, 30 Songs resistance project during the 2016 Presidential Election.  

franz_Always_Ascending
Domino Records

Always Ascending is a fresh start for the group, after founding member, Nick McCarthy, left the band in 2016. McCarthy was replaced by Dino Bardot (1990s) who had no involvement with the new album and Julian Corrie (Miaoux Miaoux), who contributes greatly to the modern sound. Even though the band is polishing their music and lost their lead guitarist, they have not yet lost their signature jagged guitar riff style and the approach of evolving. They have always been making dance music, but here, it’s fresh and surprising.The opening titled track shows Franz at their most genius. The intro of “Always Ascending” shows a soft piano with layered background vocals as the synths show word painting of the music sonically rising and ascending slowly before it all suddenly drops, with tight instrumentals. It showcases the auditory illusion of the Shepard tone, which makes the pitch of the music sound like its ascending or descending, when really its staying the same. “Lazy Boy” is a classic Franz track, but its so damn lazy lyrically. The vocals are however catchy, especially when you’re contemplating about skipping an 8:00 a.m class and frontman, Alex Kapranos’s voice pops up in your head singing “Am I gonna get up? Am I gonna get up, get up?” The groovy guitar after the first verse is especially reminiscent to the early days with McCarthy as guitarist and its funk riff makes you want to kick and stomp like you’re Alex Weir from Stop Making Sense. “Paper Cages” continues this trend, but blends that punchy riff with some bouncy and shadowy synths – reminiscent to certain new wave bands such as Talking Heads and Duran Duran. “Finally” is similar to “Always Ascending” with its firm instrumentals. Its buzzy and dancy synths and keys spiral like they were initiated from a launch pad. On the epic “The Academy Award” there are powerful elevating synths, similar to “The Murder” screeching string section from Psycho (1960). It could also be a sister track to “The Universe Expanded,” from Franz’s past album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (2013). In a tremendous segue, “The Academy Award” transitions into the electropop “Lois Lane,” which deals with a “pretty strong woman” journalist who wants to change the world, but cannot. It’s nostalgic to the style on Tonight (2009), but it’s the first time the band used a fictional character they wrote about it in their songwriting. “Huck and Jim” is one of the more energetic and heavier synth tracks, where in the pre-chorus, Kapranos sounds like how he did during the bridge of “Auf Achse” off Franz’s debut album. And he sounds like he’s Blondie rapping or imitating Mark Mothersbaugh on the Devo’s “Time Out for Fun” – which all points to styles never done before by the group. The song deals with Huckleberry Finn and Jim and the NHS (National Health Service) in England. “Glimpse of Love” sounds like it could’ve been a huge disco hit in the late seventies, which includes some immensely clean and choppy Nile Rodgers guitar chords. “Feel the Love Go” sends you on a synth-wave disco whirl – one which lasts forever on the dance-floor – with a sax solo from Terry Edwards (The Higsons and Gallon Drunk); so far being one of the best tracks of 2018. The closer, “Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow,” is a great departure from the rest of the songs. In spite of the minimal droning and effects over the drums, the song sounds like a combination of the Carpenters and Franz’s own “Fade Together,” mostly when Kapranos rises in his vocals singing “Slow, don’t kill me slow / don’t kill me slow / no, never never no, don’t kill me slow.”As the group captures you with a sensual vocal approach from Kapranos and has you dance until there is no more groove box – this is the most inconsistent arrangement from the group. There are awkward transitions, slow tracks that are out of touch with the main sound, and repetitive lyrics. Despite those elements, this album is elegantly strong, well produced, which you can tell where the band focused the most on.

After five studio albums, Franz proved how consistent and ordinary they are. They’re natural contrarians, who always standout. With a change in dynamics, this is a new band.

7.5/10

Favorite tracks: : “Always Ascending,” “Finally,” “Lois Lane,” “Huck and Jim,” “Feel the Love Go”

Least favorite tracks: “Paper Cages,” “The Academy Award,” “Glimpse of Love” 

You can listen to Franz Ferdinand’s Always Ascending here


Every Franz Ferdinand Album Ranked from Worst to Greatest

In 2004, a then-Scottish quartet named Franz Ferdinand broke into the mainstream with their signature number, “Take Me Out.” It was blasted through airwaves, sports events, and commercials  – deeming the band as a “one-hit wonder.” However, they were only seen as that to people who are too lazy and simpleminded to listen to one of their full-length albums. The group upstaged U2 when opening for them back in 2005, where rebel frontman, Alex Kapranos walked onto Bono’s ego-ramp – a catwalk extending into the audience – during their own performance. Also, in Scotland, they’re practically adored like the Beatles. And not one of their albums are bad or even mediocre – they’re all tremendous. After five studio albums, Franz proved how consistent and natural they are. In honor of Franz’s latest release on Feb. 9, Always Ascending, we ranked all five studio albums from worst to greatest.

5.) Always Ascending (2018)

franz_Always_Ascending
Domino Records

The most recent from the Scottish-rockers proves that Franz Ferdinand has not yet lost their edge in music and are one of the greatest bands to come out of 2000’s – who are still balanced and relevant to this day. Always Ascending is a fresh start for the group, after founding member, Nick McCarthy, left the band in 2016. McCarthy was replaced by Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie (aka Miaoux Miaoux), who contribute greatly to the modern sound, especially on the titled track of the new album. Even though the band is polishing their music and lost their lead guitarist, they have not yet lost their signature jagged guitar riff style (“Lazy Boy,” “Huck and Jim”). The experimental and electropop approach from Tonight (2009) is eminent and tremendously emphasized (“Always Ascending,” “Lois Lane”). “Feel the Love Go” sends you on a disco whirl – one which lasts forever on the dance-floor – with a synthy sax riff and solo from Terry Edwards; so far being one of the best tracks of 2018. However, as the group captures you with a sensual vocal approach from frontman, Alex Kapranos and has you dance until there is no more groove box – this is the most inconsistent arrangement from the group. There are awkward transitions, slow tracks that are out of touch and misplaced (“Academy Award,” “Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow”), and overly booming synths and keys louder than the vocals. And “Lazy Boy” is just so damn lazy lyrically. However, instrumentally, its jarring.

(Stay tune for a full review)

Rating: 7.5/10 

4.) Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (2013)

Domino Records

Similar to Tonight, RTRWRA, focused highly on a dance-oriented style, but its a back to the basics kind of album; dance rock emphasized by one heavy riff. From the beginning of the record, you can hear the band craving another “Take Me Out” – every song ranging from “Right Action” to “Bullet” sounds like a worthy single, waiting to crack the Billboard charts. It’s a celebratory album with a lot of swagger. “Evil Eye” creates an edgy vibe and has grooves nostalgic to the Clash’s London Calling (1979). “Love Illumination” has a classic guitar riff, which could’ve been a huge glam rock hit in the seventies. “Stand on the Horizon” includes a choppy Talking Heads-esque guitar riff, with an uplifting groovy bassline. “Bullet” is a classic post-punk Franz track, which could’ve fit really well on the first two albums. The later tracks are completely different in style. They switch out the heavy guitar riffs with some keyboards and synths. The noticeable blend of this arrangement is on the standout “Treason! Animals,” which sounds like if Queens of the Stone Age flirted with disco. Kaprano’s vocals are sinister, as he sings “I’m in love with a narcissist, I’m in love with my nemesis.” On the final track, “Goodbye Lovers and Friends” you’re hit with a gloomy fast-paced rhythm section, similar to Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” It includes Kapranos declaring in the final seconds, “But this really is the end” – a perfect closer to an astounding comeback record. RTRWRA proved rock music was still prominent in 2013.

Rating: 8/10 

3.) Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (2009)

Tonight-FF.jpg
Domino Records

Tonight is the comeback record, put out by Franz in 2009, four years after their last release. It’s the first time Franz flirts with experimentation, with electronics at the front. This meant McCarthy had to go from working on his jagged guitar work to keyboards. And it’s the first conceptual record released by the group, where the album focuses on elements of going out at night, while carousing and encountering the effects. “Ulysses” is the opening track, as it contains a lot of bass and keyboards. Named after the Greek hero from Homer’s Odyssey, this track leads to the anticipation about how something big’s about to happen and there is so much excitement, you’re carefree about the future, as the song contains the lyrics, “you’re never going home.” Even though the band is experimenting, their classic sound has not been abandoned. You hear this on two key tracks, the tempting “No You Girls” and the bitter “Bite Hard.” Also, the band still makes your hips move on the dance floor single, “Can’t Stop Feeling.” But tracks like “Twilight Omens,” “Live Alone” and the electronic monster, “Lucid Dreams” are ahead of their time, even in the age of electronic dance music. This album hits you on first listen, which is surprising for an exploratory concept record – which sometimes takes time to resonate.

Rating: 8.5/10 

2.) Franz Ferdinand (2004) 

Domino Records

During the climax of the garage rock/post-punk revival in the 2000s, a Glasgow band reached the Billboard Hot 100 and Modern Rock Tracks chart, with their anthem, “Take Me Out.” From the first track to the last, on their debut album, Franz is loaded with a ton of energy and riffs that defines what they are all about – seductive punk with a lot of cockiness. The opener, “Jacqueline,” starts out soft, but when McCarthy’s fast-paced guitar creeps in; all hell breaks lose. The album gets out of control as it descends to the quirky and catchy “Tell Her Tonight.” The signature tracks just keep coming too, from the foot-tapping “The Dark of the Matinée” to the homoerotic full of eyeliner “Michael.” Deeper cuts such as “Cheating on You” and “40′” shows Franz’s cleverness and are two of the best produced tracks on the album. There are so many songs here including “This Fire” and “Darts of Pleasure” that should have been as big as “Take Me Out.” Every cut here is  “Super-Fantastic.”

Rating: 9.5/10 

1.) You Could Have It So Much Better (2005)

You Could Have It So Much Better (Franz Ferdinand album - cover art).png
Domino Records

Franz’s sophomore effort is the group at their best. It’s lyrically intelligent, rough, and versatile. The stomping opener, “The Fallen,” showcases how aggressive and heavier the band is from their debut. The “Take Me Out” here is “Do You Want To,” – a giddy keyboard dance hit, which got ruined by a certain anime. After the loopy “This Boy,” Franz records their most beautiful and soothing tracks, “Walk Away” and “Elanor Put Your Boots On.” “Well That Was Easy” feels like a classic Paul McCartney song, which isn’t surprising. The group pays respect to their influences on this album. They dig deeper into relationships with a lot of soul on “You’re the Reason I’m Leaving” and especially the album’s titled track – where Kaprano’s roaring and pushy vocals steal the spotlight. The aesthetic “Fade Together” is dream-like – reminiscent to what the Kinks released in the late sixties. Even though their debut has tremendous energy and are more consistent on their debut, You Could Have It So Much Better, has the band going deeper with their sound and what kind of band they want to become. Franz didn’t slouch on their sophomore release, they peaked.

Rating: 9.5/10


The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” Just Got Quite the Release

The Beach Boys at the San Diego Zoo (Photo Credit: George Jerman)

The featured image above displays how record collectors and Beach Boys fans greeted record stores Feb. 9,  when Capitol Records release a limited split translucent yellow and green 130-gram LP of Pet Sounds, via Capitol Records/UMe. You can also purchase the limited edition LP on The Sound of Vinyl.

When Pet Sounds was first released by Captiol in 1966, Captiol put out the first Beach Boys compilation record, due to how poorly Pet Sounds performed on the charts compared to previous albums. In 1995, Pet Sounds topped MOJO’s special list of “The Greatest Albums of All Time” and in 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it at No. 2 of the magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Little do people know, the Beach Boys are just as prominent and influential as the Beatles.

The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds released in a limited colored vinyl LP edition by Capitol/UMe.

 


Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Release New Single and Tour Dates

stephen-malkmus-1518016890-640x426
(Photo by Giovanni Duca)

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks are back with music in over four years, since their last studio album, Wig Out at Jagbags. The former Pavement frontman and company released the single, “Middle America” and announced a North American summer tour.

“Middle America” opens a riff similar to the classic Pavement track, “Range Life.” It develops a melody close to another Crooked Rain Crooked Rain (1994) classic, “Newark Wilder” in blend with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” when Malkmus sings, “The heir apparent just might try / you know you should be winning.” It’s acoustically warm, but as the song develops, it becomes deep and intense in Malkmus’ vocals, as he sings, “It doesn’t take much nerve / just kiss yourself metaphorically and open the door and piss if you need to.” On Twitter, the group posted a snippet of what it seems like, an upcoming music video for the new single.

Malkmus and crew have set a 31-date North American tour, starting June 1, in St. Paul, Minn. The tour will take the band all across North America, going from Philadelphia to Washington D.C.. The tour will come to an end on Aug. 5, in Malkmus’s home city in Portland, Ore.

Listen to “Middle America” via Spotify and check out the band’s 2018 tour dates below.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks Tour Dates:

June
01 – St. Paul, Minn. @ Turf Club
02 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ The Back Room at Colectivo
03 – Chicago, Ill. @ Thalia Hall
05 – Columbus, Ohio @ Ace of Cups
06 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Rex Theater
07 – Cleveland, Ohio @ Grog Shop
08 – Detroit, Mich. @ Magic Stick
09 – Toronto, Ontario @ Lee’s Palace
11 – Montreal, Quebec @ Theatre Fairmount
12 – Cambridge, Mass. @ The Sinclair
14 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
16 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Theatre of Living Arts
17 – Washington, D.C. @ Black Cat
19 – Carrboro, N.C. @ Cat’s Cradle
20 – Athens, Ga. @ The Georgia Theatre
21 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Mercy Lounge
22 – Louisville, Ky. @ Zanzabar
23 – Cincinnati, Ohio @ The Woodward Theater

July
17 – Petaluma, Calif. @ Mystic Theatre
18 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Slim’s
22 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ The Crescent Ballroom
25 – Austin, Texas @ The Mohawk
26 – Houston, Texas @ White Oak Music Hall
27 – Dallas, Texas @ Granada Theater
28 – Tulsa, Okla. @ The Vanguard
29 – Kansas City, Mo. @ Record Bar
31 – Englewood, Colo. @ Gothic Theatre

August
01 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ Urban Lounge
03 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ Rickshaw Theatre
04 – Seattle, Wash. @ Neptune Theatre
05 – Portland, Ore. @ Star Theater


Julian Casablancas is Not Down with the Ryan Adams Feud, and New Music from the Voidz

Last May, author, Lizzy Goodman, caused controversy in her book, Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011. In the book, she interviewed bands from the New York City Rock scene from the early 2000’s, including: the Strokes, Interpol, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There was a lot of disclosure and surprising statements throughout the book, like the apparent feud between the Strokes and Ryan Adams. This all started directly to Adams’ alleged influence and push towards Albert Hammond Jr., Strokes guitarist, heroin addiction. Hammond was interviewed in a chapter stating,

Ryan Adams (Left) with Julian Casablancas (Right)

“I remember Julian threatening to beat Ryan up if he hung out with me, as a protective thing. He’d heard that Ryan would come and give me heroin, so he was just like, ‘If you come to my apartment again with heroin, I’m going to kick your ass.'” Speaking with Matt Wilkinson on Beats 1 on Tuesday, Casablancas mentioned Adams, saying how he doesn’t care about it anymore. During the interview, Casablancas said “I might have been the one that did it so I don’t know, because you just speak in an interview, but I just feel like I wouldn’t blame him for anything anyone else did.” Casablancas also talked about the new book, by objecting it. “I think that there was a lot of not insiders, talking as insiders. They didn’t interview my wife who was basically The Strokes co-manager for 10 years. They didn’t even interview her and they interviewed other people – I’m just not super down with the book.” Casablancas also went on to talk about the upcoming Voidz album, Virtue, due for Mar. 30. The Voidz released two new singles, entitled “Leave It In My Dreams” and “QYURRYUS.” Both tracks are a clear return to the Voidz’ electronic neo-psychedelia style on their past debut, Tyranny. It’s also reminiscent to the surreal voice effects Casablancas’s incorporated on the past two Strokes releases. Take a listen to the new tracks below.


Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin

Ty Segall, the one-man-garage rocker and nineties Beck 2.0, released a brand new album, Freedom’s Goblin. It’s his most progressive and definitive album after releasing nine studio albums: numerous collaborations and projects with other groups such as Slaughterhouse and Fuzz.

ty se
Drag City Records

His latest album, produced by the legendary Steve Albini, offers 19 tracks – all wide ranging and unreserved; there’s a reason why “Freedom” is featured in the title. This is a bold move, especially in music today. You don’t hear artists releasing double LP albums that blends various genres similar to the Beatles White Album (1968) or the Clash’s London Calling (1979). On Freedom’s Goblin, you hear elements of music that is reminiscent to classic rock (The Beatles, T-Rex, and Todd Rundgren) and Segall’s contemporaries (Ohh Sees, Black Lips, and Jack White). The variety and intensity keeps you listening. It’s a great album for newcomers. Its like experiencing the Kinks for the first time through their Kink Kronikles (1972) compilation – so much at once. It’s not as much psychedelic nightmares recorded from the underground, with scary album covers like his previous albums. It’s rock n’ roll with all its sub-genres: with some tight pop music in the mix, distorted guitars with a lot of humor and attitude – Segall is free and all over the place and lost at the supermarket.

Freedom’s Goblin opens with Segall going full Ryan Adams. The instrumentals in “Fanny Dog,” resemble certain classic rock elements, along with the slithering 3D’s/Pavement guitar riff. “Rain” by its title alone, is a Beatles tribute song. Segall lets out his inner John Lennon, reflecting Lennon’s vocals from “Strawberry Fields Forever.” This is the song that gets your mother listening by the door, asking “What Beatles song is that?” Next, Segall covers the seventies disco classic, “Every 1’s a Winner,” originally by Hot Chocolate. Here, Segall flirts with a more glam rock style, with an overly aggressive heavy Beck riff, which is of most importance. On “Despoiler of Cadaver,” Segall dives into a synth void and even becomes a bit Right Said Fred too sexy, especially when singing – “I want to whisper in your ear and give you everything.” This could’ve been a whirling disco dance floor hit in the seventies or played in a late nineties nightclub – a great followup funk number and one of the best off the new LP. “When Mommy Kills You,” is a classic Segall track, with again, a feeling of the Beatles, mostly from the background vocals. Even Yoko sounds like she could’ve been the overdubbing high pitched voices at the end. You can tell Segall is a big fan of Chris Bell and Big Star, on “My Lady’s on Fire.” Segall gets tender (“Alta,” “Cry Cry Cry,” “I’m Free”) and you can feel how profound his singing is. “Alta” is an environmental song, set in California – reminiscent of something the Beach Boys would have released from their 1970-1973 period. “Meaning,” could’ve been a new Jack White single for Boarding House Reach, but after the opening, it turns into this sprawling punk tune, with Segall’s wife singing lead vocals. “Shoot You Up,” is just as rebellious and heavy as The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” but Segall’s tone isn’t as pushy and intimidating as the instrumentals. The highlight, “You Say All The Nice Things,” is a lost T-Rex Slider (1972) take. “The Last Waltz” certainly sounds like its title with its word painting around the instrumentals, which also shows influence of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” by the Beatles. Typical blurred guitars from Segall, make their return on “She,” with Segall going heavy metal on vocals. The Wowee Zowee sections consists of “Prison,” – a goofy wild comedic instrumental transitional piece to the squalling saxophone and guitar boogie of “Talkin 3,” – where Segall screams the entire time and “The Main Pretender.” “5 Ft. Tall” is the catchiest number off the album and it includes a riff which could have been from one of the Nuggets compilations. The closing track, “And, Goodnight” is an 11 minute experimental trip, where it sounds as live as Neil Young’s Live Rust (1979). The solo seems never ending and when it finally ends, you want more. It’s like when waking up from a dream when reaching the climax. Luckily, Segall is pretty fast with releasing new music, so lets hope for some more dreams.

Segall, along with other artists such as Ron Gallo, are going backward in music and trying to give light on a genre that has been declared “dead” and irrelevant to today’s music standards. On an independent label such as Drag City, artists have the freedom to bring back or experiment with the music, in which they desire. On Freedom’s Goblin, Segall has established himself as a free musician, in celebration to the second garage rock revival, in which he conquered through his excellent taste of fuzzy guitars and melodic sensibility.

8.5/10

Favorite tracks: “Rain,” “Every 1’s a Winner,” “Despoiler of Cadaver,” “My Lady’s on Fire” “You Say All The Nice Things,” “Talkin 3,” “And, Goodnight” 

Least favorite tracks: “Cry Cry Cry,” “Shoot You Up,” “She” 

You can listen to Ty Segall’s Freedom’s Goblin here


Shine a Light on Your Police’s Synchronicty Vinyl Copy the-police-synchronicity-16ba97a3-6be6-4834-8844-a63c29e34d80

Three years ago, I was visiting a local comic book store that also sells vinyls. I was casually searching through the low-priced section, which mostly consisted of old and worn out copies of Moody Blues albums and if you got lucky, there would be some interesting new wave or power pop albums. After searching through several bins of records, the owner of the store came towards me and in a hasty manner, searched through the bin next to me. He pulled out a copy of the Police’s fifth and final studio album, Synchronicty (1983). He took record itself out and shined it to the light above us and uttered in gratification. He then told me that some original pressings of Synchronicty were pressed on a nontransparent colored record, such as bluish-purple, which you can only see when holding it up to a light. I was intrigued and looked up everything I could about it. I came across this forum discussion, posted by David Loyd. Loyd stated in his post, how supposedly there are some very rare red, gold and baby-blue copies out there as well. Check your copy to see if it matches the copy I recently purchased for only $6.00 below.

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(Photo Credit: Joseph Massaro)
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(Photo Credit: skadaddy)

Tyga Joins the List of Controversial Album Artwork

Tyga, released on his Instagram page, the cover artwork for his upcoming album, Kyoto. It confused many and lets just say, it didn’t sit well with some. The album art features an illustration of a reclining human-like tiger woman in the nude, with her underwear down. The cover was designed by Japanese graphic artist, Hajime Sorayama, best known for his sexual depictions of metallic female robots (i.e. Bio Mechanoid Marilyn Monroe). In the comment section of the post, you can see fans greeting it as “beautiful” and “dope,” while others see it as: “sexist,” “terrible,” and some have even recgonized it as a pioneer of “furry porn.” Tyga defended the artwork, in an interview with TMZ, stating “I think it’s lit. It’s art man.” Tyga later posted a picture of Sorayama, holding the artwork, thanking him for capturing “the essence with a beautiful & truthful piece.”

In 1966, the Beatles released the butcher cover art for their album, Yesterday and Today, which essentially kicked off the start of controversial album artwork. This was followed by many artists including: Blind Faith, Jimi Hendrix, Scorpions, Guns N’ Roses, Kanye West, and even the fictional band, Spinal Tap. Now, Tyga joins the club of bizarre and “offensive” album artwork.

Was this all a publicity act for fans and critics to anticipate the upcoming album? We’ll see if the music can match the album art Feb. 16.

View Kyoto‘s cover art below.


Mark E. Smith, Lead Singer of The Fall, Dies at 60

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(Photo Credit Lex van Rossen/MAI/Getty Images)

Mark E. Smith, the prominent frontman and founder of the British post punk band, The Fall, dies at age 60, at his home. Pam Vander, manager of The Fall, posted on the band’s Facebook page stating “It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith. He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days. In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.” Throughout 2017, Smith has been battling health issues, resulting in a cancellation of a U.S. tour. He even performed in a wheelchair last October. This was the second time the singer had to perform in this manner.

As a quick tempered and prolific person, Smith kept the Fall going for four decades, issuing more than 30 albums – each with a different sound. He has been the only permanent member from the Fall to remain on every single album and hired and fired many musicians featured on those records along the way. Smith founded the Fall, after attending a Sex Pistols show in 1976. His band never broke commercially like many of their contemporaries, but have developed a cult following and influenced many musicians such as Pulp, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Sonic Youth, and Pavement. Smith once said Pavement was just the Fall in 1985.

Simon Wolstencroft, speaking with the BBC about Smith, stated “His influences travel a long, long way to bands like Pulp, and new bands now like Cabbage, and many other bands have been influenced by him,” He also added “It’s a sad day,” and certainly it is the world of music. In tribute to Smith, you can listen to The Fall’s “Hit the North, Part 1” below.


Sorry, No Pictures: Jack White Bans Cell Phone Use at 2018 Concerts

It makes sense when musicians publicly dislike the usage of cell phones at their live shows. What can be more annoying than performing, while people are viewing you through a technological device, rather than their own eyes.

At an Alicia Keys concert during the summer of 2016, audiences were forced to place their phone in a rubbery pouch that gets locked, called a Yondr Pouch. If you need your phone unlocked, you have to come outside and have one of the organizers unlock it for you. Keys’ and many others including – the Lumineers, Guns N’ Roses, Chris Rock, and Dave Chapelle’s shows have become “phone-free,” – trying to regain the full attention and have their fans encounter the true live experience of their music and acts.

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(Photo Credit: David James Swanson)

Jack White is the latest person to request fans to keep their phones locked in pouches during his concerts. For years, White has been encouraging fans not to use their cell phone at his live shows. According to NME, a statement released today by White’s team stated “concertgoers will be banned from taking photos, audio, or video during the tour. We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON.” However, White doesn’t want to take away from his fans, pictures from the show. White also stated “For those looking to do some social media postings, let us help you with that. Our official tour photographer will be posting photos and videos after the show at jackwhiteiii.com and the new Jack White Live Instagram account @officialjackwhitelive. Repost our photos & videos as much as you want and enjoy a phone-free, 100% human experience.” The tour, for White’s upcoming album, Boarding House Reach (Out March 23), starts in Detroit on April 19th. Listen to the brand new single, “Connected by Love,” below.


Watch The War on Drugs Bring A Deeper Understanding to the Tonight Show

Watch The War On Drugs Perform "Pain" on <i>Jimmy Fallon</i>

2018 Grammy Nominees, the War on Drugs, enjoyed another bit of recognition and publicity, performing the heartfelt and guitar wrenching “Pain,” which recently was #1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay (AAA) chart. The War on Drugs released their fourth studio album, A Deeper Understanding, a sonically dreamy heartland rock album, that has been nominated for Best Rock Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. They could’ve performed the soulful classic “Holding On,” in which, they performed previous on past late night shows, but instead they gave spotlight on a much deeper track. Towards the end of frontman, Adam Granduciel’s final guitar solo, he reveals on the back of his jacket, “Fly Eagles Fly,” in support of the Philadelphia Eagles’ recent NFC Championship win and their path to Superbowl LII.  Watch their performance below.

The War on Drugs 2018 Tour 

1/27 – Singapore, SG @ Laneway Festival
1/29 – Aukland, NZ @ Laneway Festival
2/2 – Adelaide Sa, AU @ Laneway Festival
2/3 – Melbourne, AU @ Laneway Festival
2/4 – Sydney, AU @ Laneway Festival
2/6 – Newton, AU @ Enmore Theatre
2/07 – Newton, AU @ Enmore Theatre
2/10 – Brisbane, AU @ Laneway Festival
2/13 – Melbourne, AU @ Forum
2/14 – Melbourne, AU @ Forum
2/11 – Fremantle, AU @ Laneway Festival
4/13 – Indio, CA @ Coachella Music and Arts Festival
4/20 – Indio, CA @ Coachella Music and Arts Festival
5/4 – Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knees Festival
6/2 – London, UK @ All Points East Festival
6/4 – Dublin, IE @ Forbidden Fruit Festival
6/15 – Hunter, NY @ Mountain Jam
7/11 – Halifax, NS @ Halifax Jazz Festival
7/13 – Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Festival
7/14 – Birmingham, AL @ Sloss Music & Arts Festival
7/28 – Camden, NJ @ XPoNential Music Festival


Queens of the Stone Age – Villains 

“The shingles that peppered Queens of the Stone Age’s DNA have been all but sanded down leaving a melodic, squeaky-clean reinvention of the band we thought we knew.”

– Will Butler, Under the Radar 

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Matador Records

I couldn’t help but detest some past reviews like the one above for the new Queens of the Stone Age album, Villains. It’s the group’s seventh studio album, released on Matador Records, this past August. Like Butler sort of stated in his review, Villains is a more polished reinvention for the group, which in anyway, wasn’t surprising. Homme was featured on the most recent Arctic Monkeys record, AM (2013), which also served as a change in sound for Arctic Monkeys – giving clear emphasis on the guitar and the revival of boogie and dance rock. Homme also produced and appeared on Iggy Pop’s latest album, Post Pop Depression (2016). Also appearing on that album was Queen’s member, Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkey’s drummer, Matt Helders. There’s an odd relationship occurring here, where Homme basically took elements from his last few projects and incorporated it all on the new Queens album. However what’s odd here, is how Villains features no guest musician appearances, unlike their past albums and obviously the increase of Homme’s colloborations. That means, there is no David Grohl, Iggy Pop, Alex Turner, or Lady Gaga. It’s only Mark Ronson (“Uptown Funk”) as producer and Homme and crew greased and leathered up for one of the most surprising highlights in music of 2017.

If you were a huge fan of the last Queens album, …Like Clockwork (2013), then you were possibly fooled on the first song. On the opening track, “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” you hear right from the start, the very dark medieval strings and synths featured on the last album. The word painting of the strings at the beginning shows the anticipation and heart rate of the die-hard Queens fan, as they are approaching the gates of Hell. Homme’s vocals become especially sinister on the following track and lead single, “The Way You Used to Do.” It’s the most jumpy dancey rockabilly Queens song to date – Homme turns Alex Turner AM sexy. The music starts to fade away, and you can only hear these effects echo a later track featured on the album. “Domesticated Animals” is too lyrically similar to the concept of Planet of the Apes. Here, Homme sounds like the lead ape revolutionist, Caesar, but oddly in an alluring dark fashion. As the song is ending, you hear this scream that is reminiscent of past Queens member, Nick Oliveri’s singing style featured on the classic Songs for the Deaf (2002). After another small transitional effect that sounds like Green Day’s “Hitchin’ a Ride,” the album quiets down and Homme’s vocals become specially beautiful and the songwriting stands out rather than the instrumentals. On the remarkable “Head Like a Haunted House,” I can’t decide whether the group sounds more like the B-52’s with the wicked screaming backing vocals, the Cramps in relation to Homme’s tone of voice, or the lead guitar sounding like a mash of Devo’s “Wiggly World” and the Dead Kennedy’s “Holiday in Cambodia.” The transition to “Un-Reborn Again” features a whole ton of biting and cruel synths, along with Homme adapting his inner Bowie. “Hideaway” is the weakest track on Villains, however, it fits the sound and quality of the album. It sets an eighties post-punk/goth mood along with a Duran Duran ballad. The next track, “The Evil Has Landed” is a drastic change. It opens with a Led Zeppelin-eqsue guitar riff, as Homme’s high singing reflects his guitar style. 25074886_1415070011952137_3596677932328107341_o.jpgYou get lost during the solo, sort of like how Homme did when he kicked a female photographer in the face at the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas show. I mean the tour is in support of an album called Villains, however, this all might be too soon. In the last half of the song, you realize that the group doesn’t want to end, so they form an entirely new riff, while the effects start to overdub the previous one, leading into a jam – one of the best moments on the album. The final track, “Villains of Circumstance,” ends in the same way the album started. It’s very dreamy and shadowy, as you hear Homme singing about how far he is from the one he loves.

As the album fades away in this closing track, you may find yourself replaying it over and over again. It’s a pure solid rock n’ roll album, obviously with Homme and other members paying their respect to a number of their influences. It is their most consistent record, with every track balancing well due to the clever mixing of the album. The band finally started to change their sound, but went in the direction of a music genre, that was last relevant a decade ago in the style of rock n’ roll. However, the menacing instrumentals are disguised over Ronson’s upbeat production. Villains may not be as classic on the same levels as Rated R (2000) or Songs for the Deaf in any means, but it’s one hell of a journey.

9/10 

Favorite tracks: “Feet Don’t Fail Me,” “The Way You Used to Do,” “Fortress,” “Head Like a Haunted House,” “The Evil Has Landed” 

Least favorite tracks: “Hideaway,” “Villains of Circumstance”

You can listen to Queens of the Stone Age Villains here.


The B-52’s – Whammy! 

Warner Bros. Records

In 1983, the B-52’s followed up their EP, Mesopotamia, with their third studio album, Whammy!, which is basically a continuation of what they did on Mesopotamia. However instead of working with David Byrne, this time the band worked with Jamaican audio engineer and producer, Steven Stanley, best known for working with Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club. The B-52’s were relentless with changing and updating their sound, thus Whammy! is another take on the band’s journey of experimentation.

During a visit at Compass Point Studios in the Nassau, Bahamas, best known for where AC/DC recorded Back in Black (1980) and also where Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, recorded their cringe-worthy seventh studio album, Love Beach (1977).  First at the studio, the B-52’s re-recorded the tracks that were left off of Mesopotamia (“Queen of Las Vegas, “Big Bird,” and “Butterbean”) and later in December of 1982, recorded six new songs. At this time, guitarist, Ricky Wilson and drummer, Keith Strickland became multi-instrumentalists, by contributing all of the instrumentals, except additional instruments such as the trumpet and saxophone for Whammy!. Even though this album vastly differs from their first two releases, it still shows the B-52’s in their typical quirky and zany style.

Whammy! opens with “Legal Tender,” which features a steady drum machine and a genuine keyboard, underlaid with warm vocals from frontwomen, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, singing about making fake money in a basement, ready to be spent. The synthesizers also play a huge role in the opening track, drawing a resemblance to the new trend of new wave artists throughout the eighties, giving value to the instrument. “Whammy Kiss” features frontman, Fred Schneider at his most extreme, ending the song in reverberation by screaming “Give it to me!” With that line, you could probably guess how crazy this song is. This track differs from the rest due to how over the top it is, but that was what the band was known for. Next to “Mesopotamia,” the next track, “Song for a Future Generation” is the best experimental track from the B-52’s. It shows all five members singing, along with the key and synth lines creating a pleasant and cheerful landscape. Without a doubt, this is the best song off the album. If you thought “Whammy Kiss” was outrageous, the next track, “Butterbean” is just as bad. It almost sounds like the band is mocking their classic surf/punk style with modern instruments disorganized and outrageous draggy backing vocals from the females. The chorus changes several times in the song, but it is still a fun song to dance to. “Trism” is another alluring track from the start of it, but it becomes too repetitive and drags on. “Queen of Las Vegas,” shows some similar keyboard riff like shown on the classic Cindy Wilson lead vocal track off their debut, “Dance this Mess Around.” The lyrics are the deepest on the record, showing how perfect the vocals are without any male interference. The next track is a cover of Yoko Ono’s “Don’t Worry Kyoko” however on this version, your ears won’t bleed at the very beginning (come on, I love Yoko, but fuck that opening scream) and there is no Kyoko. The B-52’s transform Yoko’s version into a jumpy, obnoxious, Devo-like synth anthem. It gets even weirder on “Big Bird.” There’s a surprising horn and African drum section over a low keyboard line – something that could have been featured on nineties Nickelodeon, later ending in jazzy style. The congas are extensively emphasized, showing a wild taste and Stanley’s influence. The final track, “Work That Skirt” is a jam featuring all sorts instruments, with the electronics sounding like something which could have easily influenced the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2003). It’s a fantastic instrumental piece, but it’s a weak way to end the album. As a listener, you demand more. It would have been better as a transitional track; sort of a break from all the loopy singing by Schneider, Wilson, and Pierson.

This whole experimental project was a great idea by the band – it didn’t fail at all like some artists do when changing their sound. It’s a very eccentric and genius album, but holds too much emphasis on the consistent use of keyboards and synths, which was clearly its point. It creates a futuristic atmosphere, which still holds today. It might not be as classic as their first two albums, but it shows a more stable organization in their order of songs. It’s very undeviating – keeping the party going. The point of the B-52’s music is to make you get up and dance and that is exactly what was accomplished Whammy!.

8.5/10  

Favorite tracks: “Legal Tender,” Whammy Kiss,” “Song for a Future Generation,” “Butterbean,” “Big Bird” 

Least favorite tracks: “Trism,” Don’t Worry” 

You can listen to The B-52’s Whammy! here.


Listen to the Latest Track From David Byrne, For His Upcoming Album

Nonesuch Records

David Byrne released the latest track for his upcoming 2018 studio album, American Utopia. The song is entitled “Everybody’s Coming To My House” which right at the beginning, establishes an atmosphere of LCD Soundsystem, Talking Heads, and you can also hear some Daft Punk, especially in the solo and instrumentals. American Utopia comes out Mar. 9. Listen below.

 


Franz Ferdinand Releases New Song for Upcoming Album

Domino Records

Scottish rockers and garage rock revivalists, Franz Ferdinand, released a new single entitled “Feel The Love Go” for their upcoming album, Always Ascending, due for February 9, 2018. It is far more progressive than the previous titled track single, but continues the sexy dance rock fashion Franz is known for. The change up in style isn’t surprising, especially after co-founding member and guitarist, Nick McCarthy, departed. This isn’t like anything Franz has released before, however, it does draw a similarity in the more solid and electronic pop album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, from 2009. “Feel The Love Go” sounds like its predecessor, especially in the beginning before the drop to the chorus, but the end of it takes you on a disco whirl that seems never-ending.

Many garage rock revivalists from the early 2000’s have switched from guitars to synths and keyboards. Bands including Franz, the Strokes, and the Killers, started this approach in the early 2010’s, but emphasized it more with their recent work. Artists once hailed as the “saviors of rock” are now evolving into a different genre. Similarly, when the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart went disco; history repeats itself.

Listen to Franz Ferdinand’s “Feel The Love Go” below.