<p>Kings of Leon &quot;Come Around Sundown&quot;</p>

Kings of Leon "Come Around Sundown"

Album Review: Kings of Leon return with 'Come Around'

Is this an answer to 2008's breakthrough?

While Kings of Leon enjoyed massive success overseas prior to 2008, the rock act only made its dent in America with the release of their last “Only by the Night.” And it was then, by the strength of “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire,” that they were propelled to arena and festival headliner status, a macho stomp that took them all the way to the Grammy podium in early 2009. 

Now in 2010, all eyes are on the Kings, and what their answer to their success would be. The result, on “Come Around Sundown” is an audible “thanks” and an inaudible shrug “what?”.
 
See, before “Only by the Night,” there was 2007’s excellent “Because of the Times,” chock-full of rock experiments, non-solos, Caleb Followill’s sonorous bark sometimes whittled to a delicate deliverer. And way-way before that there was “Youth & Young Manhood,” with its garage rock meeting the South, the result of this family band’s Tennessee upbringing.
 
“Sundown” has a combination of all those, but it’s not the straight-forward rock record that “Only by the Night” was.
 
It begins with “The End,” with a forlorn ride cymbal heralding Followill the Singer’s musing, “This could be the end.” Its chorus is shoegaze gone mainstream, a motif that occurs, too, in “Mary,” combining with ‘50s girl group feel and a structure that probably never intended for the song to be as loud as it is.
 
Addictive first single “Radioactive” is the closest this set gets to the rock radio, though not in the same way “Use Somebody” ever did. Southern and gospel music reiterate where exactly this group “came from,” as emphasized by the band’s curious video. The pilgrimage continues in “Pyro,” with some Christ-like imagery that our lead singer won’t be anyone’s “cornerstone.”
 
The four-piece tinkers with various sonic devices on “The Immortals” and “Beach Side,” the former coupling Followill’s siren wail with a couple of seventh chords and the latter with the lighter touch of – could it be? – Sea and Cake-y guitar patterns.
 
They go right back to their general rockers like on “The Face” and “No Money,” lacking a bit in ingenuity and a solid hook or handle. Still, the ears perk up with a dark Southwestern swirl in “Mi Amigo,” surprisingly one of the strongest tracks on the set. In an abundance of otherwise abstract lyrics, Followill attempts to make a linear narrative out of a drunken and stoned night out, his drug of choice acting like his lady love. Hilariously, the band dollops sweet harmonies over crude lyrics like “[She] showers me in boozes / tells me I got a big ol’ d*ck / and she wants my ass home / to sing a song,” heavy-lidded and giggling.
 
KOL closes the lid by bringing in the ‘90s, which appear in that chunky, guitar-faced bass in “Pickup Truck.” They take a minimalist approach to accompaniment letting the voice crack in a happy accident, restrained until those last choruses in an expected instrumental pile-on, the high hats and snare openening up and a hoarse piano getting the underwater reverb treatment.
 
As implied by its title, “Sundown” gets dark and hints at getting darker, barely ending the way it started. Recorded in New York but boasting of those serene palms on its cover, the album seems to thrive on the unexpected, which may satisfy some and not others. Its variety is appreciated, consciously thwarting the kind of Big Rock that finally put the band on the albums chart -- not that it can do anything can stop from success now.

"Come Around Sundown" is out today (Oct. 19).

<p>Bryan Ferry's &quot;Olympia&quot;</p>

Bryan Ferry's "Olympia"

Credit: Astralwerks

Song Of The Day: Bryan Ferry taps Jonny Greenwood, David Gilmour for 'Siren' song

From 'Olympia,' out later this month

If Paul Weller was a close-favorite and token vet for the Mercury Prize this year, Bryan Ferry will most certainly be it next.

The former Roxy Music member is promoting his forthcoming solo effort "Olympia," due Oct. 26, and has released a new track, "Song to the Siren."

Stereogum premiered the track, listen to it here.

Just like Slash's album released earlier this year, Ferry obviously pulled out all the stops to feature his friends on this "solo" set. This particular "Siren" song includes contributions from his former bandmates (including Brian Eno), Radiohead noisemaker Jonny Greenwood, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Nile Rodgers and frequent Ferry collaborator Colin Good, among others.

That being said, I'd love to be at this year's Christmas party at the Ferry household.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Cold War Kids: Smile, you guys</p>

Cold War Kids: Smile, you guys

Credit: Downtown

Cold War Kids announce new album for you and 'Yours,' plus tour dates

Can engineer Jacquire King turn this boat around?

This morning I've been listening to the new album from Kings of Leon, in preparation for reviewing "Come Around Sundown" for Monday.

I also wrote a little bit about Tom Waits this morning. And Mike Doughty, bless his heart, came up in the mix at the bar last night and Third Eye Blind was nearly vetoed from a '90s radio rock-themed road mixtape my friends and I blasted this past weekend.

I still feel a little bad about how much I didn't like Norah Jones' contribution to Belle & Sebastian, reviewed earlier this week.

What do all these artists have in common? Jacquire King, who ha engineered, mixed and/or produced all of the above.

Like Brian Deck, he's worked with Modest Mouse and Josh Ritter, too, but now he's got his sites set on Cold War Kids. (Still no word back from the company men if Deck is helping out on Iron & Wine.)

And these Kids could use a good -- if not totally new -- mix.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Tom Waits with Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye and Steve Earle</p>

Tom Waits with Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye and Steve Earle

Credit: Cynthia Wood Photography

Tom Waits releasing new 78 vinyl with Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Plus: Listen to the singer-songwriter tackle Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem

News on Tom Waits gets a little rare these days, considering the singer-songwriters has been quietly working on new material with wife Kathleen Brennan.

But for fans, there's two little reasons to celebrate: the veteran songsmith is releasing a limited edition, two-song 78 rpm vinyl record and he performed a piece by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti for our benefit last week.

First, “Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing” b/w “Corrine Died On The Battlefield” was recorded last year with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the "Preservation: An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program" compilation. The set featured other artists like Ani DiFranco, Del McCoury, Yim Yames (Jim James), Pete Seeger and others, but Waits chose his tracks for being "the earliest known recorded examples of Mardi Gras Indian chants."

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<p>Doug Paisley</p>

Doug Paisley

EXCLUSIVE Song Of The Day: Doug Paisley's 'No One But You'

Folk and alt-country combine for a solid second outing

Last night at New York's Living Room, Doug Paisley oscillated between the folksy modesty of someone raised right and the bold knowledge of his own unstoppable, subtle songwriting. One moment, he refrained from describing a vivid dream he had 'cause "nobody likes hearing about other people's dreams"; the next, he mentions he got his left-handed guitar from fellow Canadian and living legend Garth Hudson of The Band (oh, yeah, we may have heard of him). He willingly admitted that his tuner never thinks he's good enough, but then whipped those six strings and his tenor around a melody that sticks. He shaved the 'stache (at left), otherwise, he'd have another thing to brag about.

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<p>Kid Cudi in &quot;Erase Me&quot;</p>

Kid Cudi in "Erase Me"

Watch: Kanye West, McLovin cameo in Kid Cudi's rocker 'Erase Me'

Jimi Hendrix is strong with this one

As busy as he is , Kanye West took out some time this year to shoot a cameo with his protégé Kid Cudi in the vid for the latter's track "Erase Me."

Shot by Jason Goldwatch -- who's helmed for Linkin Park, Jay-Z, Ludacris and other Cudi clips -- the video takes the viewer backstage and on the tour bus with Cudi and his crew, who blab out silly things in British accents. Cudder dons the bell bottoms and big hair as Jimi Hendrix, while sidekick McLovin Christopher Mintz-Plasse spouts wisdom and truth from underneath a blonde wig. They drink, shenanigans ensue.

The only women to appear, of course, are model-ly groupies and a Rolling Stone music journalist (why do women rock writers on film always ask bad interview questions?). Kanye shows up for a verse with a crown of gold instead of thorns (as he's prone to, lately); he uses some clever word play involving the word "diarrhea."

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<p>Daft Punk in a new &quot;Tron: Legacy&quot; image</p>

Daft Punk in a new "Tron: Legacy" image

Credit: Disney

First Look: Daft Punk reveal 'Tron' image, snippet of new track

'The Game Has Changed,' indeed: French duo steps into the Grid

I don't blame anybody for getting excited about the "Tron" sequel, "Tron: Legacy," but equally exhilarating is Daft Punk's appearance in the film, and the promise of new material from French dance music duo.

Disney has now revealed its Daft Punk "Tron" teaser poster, on the heels of the news that the robotic pair are, indeed, will be in the film as well as providing its score and soundtrack. In the flick, it may surprise you to learn that they'll play helmet-wearing DJs.

However, the release date has now been pushed back from its original, Thanksgiving-ish drop, to Dec. 7. There is still the guarantee that those who pre-order the CD version will get a poster of Daft Punk in the Grid from "Tron" with their package. Christmas: still coming early.

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<p>Sufjan Stevens</p>

Sufjan Stevens

Credit: Denny Renshaw

Album Review: Sufjan Stevens 'Age of Adz' marks a new era

Would you rather he go back the States Project?

Sufjan Stevens has never been a man to shy away from concepts. He’s famously penned albums based on individual United States. He crafted a little something around the Chinese Zodiac and put out a box of Christmas songs. His last major project, “The BQE,” was about the object-song of New York’s Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, projected on screen as well as on record. 

There are fans frustrated by the singer-songwriter’s schemes because, in a way, it makes his albums seem like a drill, never the “real thing” –like sonic exercises. “The Age of Adz” denies a concept outright but will be, beyond that, a major challenge for these fans, musically.
 
But I think that if Sufjan Stevens didn’t make albums like “The Age of Adz,” he’d be really bored. That’s not a bid in favor of the set, mind you, but gives some context to why there’s a lot going on here.
 

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<p>Belle and Sebastian's &quot;Write About Love&quot;</p>

Belle and Sebastian's "Write About Love"

Credit: Matador

Album Review: Belle and Sebastian returns with 'Write About Love'

What does a four year wait, cameos from Carey Mulligan and Norah Jones and a 'Bimbo' get you?

 

For its eighth album, after a four-plus year wait, Belle and Sebastian have opted out of complete evolution or recreation, but instead honed on its strengths and – thankfully – come up with some nice stories to tell.
 
In those years, the Scottish band has allowed adventures beyond the road and outside of the studio to flourish: some folks got married, some started families, others dabbled in extra musical projects. But a palate cleanse doesn’t mean the mouth forgets what it likes. “Write About Love” excels, again, in nuanced pop, with exhalations of love, explorations of “what if,” journal-like explanations of good and bad behavior.
 
… All of which would be less than exhilarating if the melodies weren’t equally refined, fashioned from the same anything-goes cadre of delicate musical instruments, from Casio keys to acute amplifiers to shape-shifting guitars. The band confidently burst in with “I Didn’t See It Coming,” with a memorable tune that you could put your own little lyrics to and it’d still make sense, if it weren’t already so beautifully inked by the pen of Sarah Martin. She also makes a solid showing on “I Can See Your Future,” which has a pop of the older B&S recordings and the strings like those of Sgt. Pepper’s famous band.
 
That track cleans up the little mess that is “Read the Blessed Pages” a gentle piece of journal paper smacking of synthetic pan pipes (quit f*cking with me, Murdoch). By the time of closer “Sunday’s Pretty Icons,” all’s forgiven: it’s simply one of the strongest songs, lyrically, that frontman Stuart Murdoch has ever penned, in that it says so much without saying much at all. “Every girl you ever admired / every boy you’ve ever desired / every love you’ve ever forgot / every person that you despised is forgiven” sings the sentiment, a reason to hit “repeat” – on the whole album.
 
Which is reason to pick up on the impeccable track ordering on “Write About Love.” Shuffling would be like ignoring the syntax of a sentence because you like certain words together. It’s not like there’s One Meaningful Concept to draw from the set, but it maneuvers from quiet to loud, witty to vulnerable -- sometimes all within a single song – so well.
 
In “Come on Sister,” Stuart’s usual breathy, plain voice dabbles with a little machismo, inviting his subject to the bar (despite a keyboard’s 8-bit warning that, sorry, the princess is in another castle). But then “Calculating Bimbo” features him and his backers simply, dreamily reciting the song’s title in song, calmly reporting on the bimbo in question.
 
Solid “I Want the World to Stop” is fleshy and mysterious-sounding, with a echoing call-and-reponse and warm treatment of sad matter. It’s followed by unfortunate, snoozy Norah Jones vehicle “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John”; it’s bothersome in that it simply does not belong on this collection and that it's most exciting feature is its title.
 
The cameo is made up for with from actress Carey Mulligan guesting on the title track. The Rhodes and electric guitar opening revs like a Kinks cover as working class minutae and bereaving of a boring job gets the most cheerful treatment on the set. “Get on your skinny knees and pray,” Murdoch encourages, “You gotta see the dreams through the windows and the trees of your living room.”
 
The lyric expresses is a fine feeling of forward motion, for its listener and for the band. “Write About Love” is a charge without being high voltage. It fulfills what fans have come to expect from the band without overwhelming. It’s just enough to fall in “Love.”

 

<p>Linkin Park</p>

Linkin Park

Watch: Linkin Park are seeing stars in 'Waiting for the End'

Whoa: A Linkin Park song you might actually like

Particularly after the band's MTV VMA performance, the "Blackbirds" promotion and their association with "Transformers," I haven't been much for Linkin Park over the last year. But today, I was pleasantly surprised: there's a recent LP song that I can say I actually like now.

The rockers premiered the video to "Waiting for the End" today, and the clip is packed with a lot of data and stuff going on that somehow turned out to be very beautiful. The band members are grids. They're constellations. They look great.

This is a fine instance of liking a track more because of its video, with props due to Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn, the clip's director. The songwriting is kind of a mess, and the mix is so over-the-top for such an intimate sentiment and the drums are grumbling like D'n'B is back in style.  But it works for me, with such a dark palatte and strong imagery.

"Waiting for the End" is culled from the band's latest full-length, "A Thousand Suns," released this summer.

What do you think of the video?