Nine years ago, James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” was everywhere—radio stations, TV shows, movies. And if you got sick of it, Blunt understands.
Like their DFA label mates, Museum of Love‘s Pat Mahoney and Dennis McNany make music that seems to come from an alternate universe where guitar-based rock ‘n’ roll died out in the late ’70s and was replaced by electronic musicians with analog gear and more delicately nuanced sensibilities who in the timeline we inhabit have been relegated to cult status. The first single from their brand new self-titled debut LP, the funky but vaguely bummed-out “The Who’s Who of Who Cares,” offers interlocking synthesizer patterns, an archly theatrical vocal melody, and plenty of horn and percussion embellishments.
Together, the combination sounds like a collaboration between Roxy Music, Arthur Russell, and the Salsoul Orchestra that was handed off to a Chicago house producer for remixing. For the video, Mahoney shows off the sculpting skills he developed in his pre-music career working for the toy industry to create a reproduction of McNany’s head which the then promptly destroys.
Even before some people noticed a mysterious song called “1/20/15″ on Sleater-Kinney’s new career-spanning box set, rumors had percolated for a good year that the seminal indie trio was planning to return. The band had an enormously successful run that lasted from the mid-’90s through 2005’s style-changing The Woods, going out as one of the most acclaimed bands of the past 20 years. But the trio—singer-guitarist Carrie Brownstein, singer-guitarist Corin Tucker, and drummer Janet Weiss—were adamant about calling it an “indefinite hiatus,” not a breakup.
On Monday, some eight years after Sleater-Kinney played its last show in its hometown of Portland, Brownstein announced the group’s return on NPR, where she’s an occasional contributor. “Sleater-Kinney isn’t something you can do half-assed or half-heartedly,” she notes. “We had no desire to revisit sounds and styles and paths we had treaded before.”
So fans shouldn’t expect the new No Cities to Love—due Jan. 20 on Sub Pop Records—to hearken back to the group’s ostensible heyday of Dig Me Out, or the overdriven quasi-psychedelia of The Woods. A preview track, “Bury Our Friends,” wouldn’t sound out of place on The Woods, but it’s an exciting preview of what’s to come.
Kander and Ebb wrote “New York, New York”; Billy Joel crooned “New York State of Mind”; Jay Z dropped “Empire State of Mind.” Now, Taylor Swift is adding her take to the canon of songs about the city that never sleeps.
On Monday morning, Swift previewed “Welcome to New York,” the first song off her album 1989, which is, yes, about moving to New York.
Bono is rarely, if ever, seen without his trademark sunglasses, but the U2 frontman hasn’t worn them to make a fashion statement or define his look—he has been treating his glaucoma.
Back in the spring, Nashville indie rockers Wild Cub released a video for their song “Colour” from last year’s Youth LP, a swoony ballad possessed of a nervy postpunk energy and a visual (created by Drew Bourdet and Dustin Lane) with pretty young people doing the low-key profound things that young people do, like drive around in cars and make out with each other. The band’s latest release is a “Colour” single, which includes not only the radio edit of the song but a radically different version recorded with Spoon drummer/producer Jim Eno and featuring singer-songwriter Jessie Baylin that slows things down, smooths them out, and lets it all breathe in a way that shows an entirely different side to the composition that’s softer and even a little heartbreaky. Similarly, the accompanying video presents the original material in a different way, editing outtakes from the first “Colour” visual into a dreamy, hypnotic collage.
The “Colour” single, which also includes a remix of the Youth song “Thunder Clatter” by Jensen Sportag, is out digitally now on Mom + Pop, with a limited edition 10″ vinyl version out Oct. 28. They’ll be heading out on tour with Fun. offshoot Bleachers starting later this month.
Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra have followed up their 2014 album, Cope, which combined indie rock melodicism with hard rock heft, in a novel way. Their new LP, Hope, is a track-by-track reimagining of Cope as a much quieter and more subdued affair, replacing crunching guitars and pounding drums with delicate acoustic picking, soft horn and piano arrangements, and the marked influence of both rootsy Americana and intricately assembled chamber pop. It’s a daring concept, but the band’s managed to pull it off, creating an album that not only sheds a different light on Cope but may even be an improvement, at least to some listeners.
In keeping with Hope‘s theme of radical musical reinvention, MO has assembled a playlist of covers songs that offer a far different experience than the originals (plus a Paul Simon demo that shows how much Graceland‘s “Homeless” changed between inception and completion).
Spectating at a professional sporting event is about much more than the game itself—it’s the atmosphere. The hype is half the fun, whether you’re walking up to an arena or gathering with friends on the couch. That’s why every sports game comes with a custom soundtrack that starts playing as soon as you boot up: to let you know it’s time to Get Hyped.
But a more recent trend wants you to get hyped not only for the game, but for the soundtrack too. Marquee artists are being invited to curate soundtracks for sports games, with their names prominently featured on box art. One of the first, and splashiest, artists to contribute in this manner was Jay-Z, who was named an Executive Producer when he handpicked the soundtrack on 2012’s NBA 2K13. This year’s crop of basketball games continues the trend, but with a new wrinkle: while the soundtrack for the currently-available NBA 2K15 features picks from Grammy-winning artist Pharrell Williams, the upcoming competing title NBA Live 2015 is turning to DJ and entrepreneur MICK (formerly Mick Boogie) for its soundtrack.
The Foo Fighters have transformed the release of their album/documentary hybrid Sonic Highways into an event. The eight-part series premieres on HBO tonight, followed by a live performance of the band’s lead single, “Something from Nothing.” To prep for that debut, Dave Grohl and the gang have spent the week collaborating with other musicians on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman.
While the Foos will have one final performance tonight, they have already banked five impressive outings. Here they are, ranked from least to most rockin’, based on actual quality, the guest musician, and the level of Grohl in each song.
When Ghislain Poirier first appeared on the dance music scene a few years ago, he made a splash with gleefully noisy, jarringly frenetic tracks built out of wailing synthesizers and choppy beats. His songs offered the best parts of dancehall, techno, club rap, and pretty much everything else that’s made to get people acting rowdy on a dance floor. At the time, this sort of genre agnosticism hadn’t yet become as firmly entrenched in dance music as it is now—which meant that fans scrambled to figure out what to even call Poirier’s music. New Yorker pop critic Sasha Frere-Jones came closest to nailing the music’s highly focused vibrancy when he coined the term “lazer bass.”
When he’s not lighting dance floors on fire, Poirier records stuff under the name Boundary that does pretty much the exact opposite. His new album Still Life is richly textured chill-out music that’s calming and conducive to meditative states—but still delivers enough bass to keep beat junkies happy. Each track is a skillfully uncluttered arrangement of meticulously well-designed tones, and each spin is like entering a perfectly manicured Zen garden of sound. For a sample of its habit-forming vibes, try this free download of Still Life‘s standout track “Rosemont.”
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