Let's set at least one thing straight: Gaslight Anthem's "American Slang" is one of the best new rock records this year, and its title track one of the best rock songs. Even after my initial review of the track it's grown on me tenfold; it's satisfyingly hyperbolic, anthemic and sets a good pace for running.
That being said... the new music video? Kinda meh.
Shot in black and white, it follows the quartet through Manhattan and Brooklyn, their pretty mugs alternating between looking morose and bored (though there is one darling shot of frontman Brian Fallon cracking up). We see a church steeple, some urban decay, live concert footage and homeless people. There's flitting looks at Wall Street and the Lower East Side's Allen Street. It's a sleepy homage to the city that never sleeps.
It wouldn't be fair to say Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" did this, only better, because Jay-Z has a gajillion dollars. However, it'd be nice if shooter Kevin Custer allowed the camera to linger on images of intrigue and meaning, rather than, like, "Look at this broken telephone. Then look at it in a second shot. So cool."
Curious that this squarely New Jersey-heralding group set its sites on New York for its first video, but then again, there's nine other tracks to take to New Brunswick.
Of Montreal is prepping the release of something like its 12th album "False Priest," and has unleashed at least two tracks for advanced listening.
"Hydra Fancies," the latest of these, will be featured on lit magazine The Believer's song compilation disc as part of its music issue, streaming below. A slightly alterered version will appear on "False Priest," due Sept. 14.
The track is on the less-flouncy side of Kevin Barnes and Co.'s output, though still with the signature synth slurs and doubled vocals.
The first available (free!) single, "Coquet Coquette," has a more jammy, adrenaline rush to it, much more organic in feel than the pop-weirdo-rock band's last album "Skeletal Lamping" on the whole.
"False Priest" will feature contributions from Solange Knowles on intriguingly titled "Sex Karma" and from the unstoppable Janelle Monae, on two tracks "Our Riotous Defects" and "Enemy Gene." In fact, Monae collaborated with Of Montreal on (more or less) her own tune "Make the Bus," a previous Song Of The Day.
It took three years for Big Boi’s “Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty” to finally drop, and it wasn’t through the Sony subsidiary. Jive passed on the album and let Big release it with whomever he pleased. Antwan "Big Boi" Patton claimed that label – home, too, to his regular outfit Outkast -- deemed the set too “arty.”
I wasn’t in the room when everybody talked it out, but maybe the word, instead, should have been “immediate.”
Because this isn’t your traditional hip-hop record, and it’s a shame that Jive didn’t expect as much. It’s not a non-stop “Hey Ya!” party (though that 2003 track, penned by Outkast’s other half Andre 3000, took a good while to catch on with radio and the masses). There's a choir and war-like buzz of a marching band in “General Patton,” an instrumental army backing his rising, aggressive rhymes. Or the droopy funk of “Fo Yo Sorrows” with none other than George Clinton. And the late-‘80s dance influence and supersonic synth samples on “Follow Us” featuring Vonnegutt’s watery, memorable hook and a warning to bubblegum rappers with no heart or chops.
But of course, there’s Big Boi’s tightly wound rap style, the hypnotic club beats and the rapper’s ever-present sense of humor and bravado. He brings in skits (oh skits.) and the more typical wompy club jams like on “Daddy Fat Sax” and single “Shutterbugg,” the latter of which is the sound of somebody getting away with something.
And that’s Patton’s signature sensation, like seeing fireworks year after year but still being in awe of fire. We had to wait a while for this set, but it still buzzes, tingles and buys you another drink – with his friends eager to please as well. The many, many guest vocalists, producers and rappers on this set add up to more than the sum of its parts (unlike Drake’s “Thank Me Later,” a record that wouldn’t be much of a record without all the star studs).
Examples of these are Sleepy Brown and Joi’s contributions on suggestive “Turns Me On,” and on “Night Night” with the soul vocals and B.o.B.’s hard side sliding between well-rhymed verses. Salacious “Tangerine” featuring Khujo Goodie and T.I. gets me as excited (read that as you will) for the new T.I. album as a featured track can. Lil Jon even manages to dazzle on slow jam “Hustle Blood” with Jamie Foxx, two artists that typically give me pause; it’s a nice R&B pasture that wildly clunky “Idlewild” desperately lacked. “Shine Blockas” sticks out to these ears, with Gucci Mane’s thick-lipped street cadences over positively sweet beats – make no mistake, though, it is one of the album’s best tracks, and perfectly paced.
“15 years up in this game, still unchanged / feel me,” Big Boi says on “Feel Me (Intro).” Oh, we do, Big. This is one of the year’s best pop and hip-hop crossovers, up there with Patton’s own protégé Janelle Monae (who also appears on “Sir Luscious,” on “Be Still"). It was hip-hop stalwart Def Jam that heard its potential, and it’s to their boon. While not every song is immediate, most are memorable.
If you'll remember, Prince announced that his new album "20ten" will be sold with copies of the Mirror and Scotland's Daily Record newspapers on July 10.
This interview marks his first newspaper interview granted in something like a decade. And the weird doesn't stop there.
"The internet's completely over," Prince declared. "I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won't pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can't get it... The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good... They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."
This is the man -- the entertainer -- who up until recently extensively micro-managed the dispersal of his music and image on the 'net; who tried selling his music through exclusively through his own website, then subsequently shut the site down. You'll be hard pressed to find a Prince tune on YouTube. Online outlets get regular, direct requests from Prince and Co. to use one particular photo over another in posted articles.
Prince doesn't want "20ten" -- an album being given away for free, abroad -- to be found for free on the internet. For fans, this is your challenge.
Meanwhile, the Mirror writer was given a tour of Prince's Paisley Park compound -- from the recording studio to the 1,000+ capacity personal concert hall, the dance club at which he was told to dance in a circle of five. It's obvious that the "Let's Go Crazy" singer is still heavily influenced by his faith -- he's a Jehovah's Witness -- and is still sober and vegan. Readers are treated to raw veggies and a banana smoothie. Beautiful backing singers and his girlfriend Bria Valente (in an evening gown) make cameos. It sounds like a brief stint in a real-life Barbie playhouse, with Prince its only Ken.
"I'm Back" got me excited for T.I.'s return. "Ya Hear Me" has me really, really excited.
The rapper is putting out "King Uncaged" on Aug. 17, and has been dropping a mix of gnarly, tricky, fun and hard-edged tracks, from that initial declaration, to the DJ Drama-enhanced "F*ck a Mixtape," "Yeah Ya Know" and... well, now we know.
The dueling organs of "Ya Hear Me" and the lack-jawed delivery of Tip's rhymes sounds like summer love, even though he's simply hyping his own return (again) and reporting adventures from the clink.
We wish we had this in time for our 2010 jams list, but the July 4 weekend will have to suffice for now. So far, this is my favorite new thing from the M.C.
When I first heard Chromeo, I was previewing music online before seeing artists live during the 2007 Iceland Airwaves festival. I was to write about them for an English-speaking newspaper in Reykjavik. At first glance, Chromeo was cheesy as hell.
After seeing them live, I still thought they were cheesy as hell. But also wildly engaging and owning it, the smooth keyboard-enhanced jams of the late '80s, meeting with sometimes-satirical R&B/hip-hop beats, the lovey-charming-gooey vocals of Dave 1. There's a transcendence of the cheese, post-cheese, particularly live, in their brand of sensuous, celebratory electro-dance-pop. Women swooned. Men called themselves P-Thugg. They named their EP that winter "Bonafied Lovin."
Come Sept. 14, Chromeo will be continuing that trend with the release of "Business Casual," and there's at least two tracks to give a taste in advance.
"Don't Turn the Lights On" (below) is particularly creamy, with a chorus that sticks like suckers. GreenLabelSound.com is offering "Night By Night" and some remixes for free.
In a tour that's destined not to suck this summer, Chromeo is taking out Holy Ghost! and blow-up band Neon Indian on tour starting in late July through late August.
You know when you have a really big crush on someone and you just want them, there, y'know, and when you feel like they're playing games on you, how it's like being thrown through a window, pushed off the top of a building, stabbed with a blade, clotheslined, toilet-dunked, sucker punched, ball-kicked, bitten, burned and left for dead? Y'know?
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 in "Misery" has gone to great measures to explain just what this girl is doing him, making her look psychopathetic and him like a sexual masochist. At least now we know what he's into.
On it's face, "Misery" is lyrically longing, a little generic, rolling those bedroom eyes all over the place. But the clip is so damn distracting, menacing and (for me) disturbing (zero LOL count were the roles to be reversed), it may as well be "The Benny Hill Show" theme song. We get it, Adam: you have a high tolerance for beautiful, outlandish women. It cuts like a knife. But it feels so right.
What I love about Janelle Monae -- who notably has made one of my favorite albums this year -- is that she's damn sexy without having to take off any clothes.
The singer and songwriter holds her own against rhymemasters Lupe Fiasco and B.o.B. in the music video to the Wondamix remix of single "Tightrope," culled originally from "The ArchAndroid." While B.o.B. bounces, Chi's Lupe bolts the, dare I say, funky beat to the floor, and Monae shares the difference, with sly moves and good time being had by all employed.
Shot in all black and white -- much like Monae's clothing colors of choice -- the clip allows her to concede as such, considering there's "no need for other colors." Astute.
And in case you missed it, Ms. Monae covered Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" over the weekend at the BET awards. The Purple One was in the audience, and looked pleased, and while I think the audio was pretty shot, her mad dancing skills would make anyone insane.
When fans of Steel Train buy the rock act’s new set, they’ll get a little something from the ladies.
The New Jersey natives tapped female friends, tour mates and colleagues for a companion album “Terrible Thrills Vol. 1” to their self-titled album, released Tuesday (June 29); a dozen unique voices re-made the set’s 12 songs.
“Especially over the past couple of years, I almost pretty much listened to only female singers. I wish I had a female voice” explained co-founder and singer Jack Antonoff. “When you write or create anything, you carry your influences with you. Particularly on this record, I hear them as a girl singing them.”
Hence the extra disc’s worth of material, from artists like actress/singer Scarlett Johansson, Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer, Tegan and Sara, impressive Brooklynite Holly Miranda, Verve Forecast up-and-comers Elizabeth & The Catapult and the Go Go’s Charlotte Caffey.
Antonoff went to high school with -- well, more specifically, was high school sweethearts with -- Johansson. She has most recently collaborated with Pete Yorn on their collaborative album “Break Up” and with producer Dave Sitek on her Tom Waits covers set “Anywhere I Lay My Head."“I love her voice, and she loves the song [opener ‘Bullet’].” Tegan and Sara tapped Steel Train to open for them on tour over the past year. Palmer liked the idea of recording and posting her cover as a webcast experiment. And so on.
It’s a move that the band had only dreamed of before they shined off their contract with now-defunct Drive Thru. Now under the Terrible Thrills label banner, the band has felt at leisure to “grow up” into their sound.
“Having [Terrible Thrills] is the most exciting thing ever for us. We were with Drive Thru in its last hurrah but because we were still signed to them, there were still these stupid expectations. In a good way, we’re gonna go off the deep end, sonically. We had so many of these kind of ideas for so long,” Antonoff says, bringing up that the band was still in high school when contracts got signed.
“We were part of this whole New Jersey punk scene, and then we turned away from it. What most bands do in their garage, we do on tour and on this record: we’re still kids, but we’re finally finding our sound.”
And “Steel Train” has really graduated the band into a sonic realm that’s moved beyond that Jersey sound; you’ll hear strings and overdriven distortion, choirs and tricky rhythms overtop the quintet’s passionate rock ‘n’ roll. But you’ll also hear strong songs, stronger enough to withstand 12 covers from diverse female artists.
Is the extra material supposed to be a statement, like a Lilith Fair, or commentary on the industry?
“Not initially, not when I first thought of it. But people still are really subconsciously discriminatory toward female artists, like they’re all ‘cute.’ It’s really offensive. I just couldn’t see it more the opposite… [female artists] must feel pressure to present themselves as more than just musical artists. Because of our world, there’s gross emphasis on the way women look. It’s offensive and off subject, like people noting that Fiona apple is some sort of a comic of a crazy girl or overgeneralizing about Tegan and Sara and their audience on tour,” Antonoff continues.
What do you think of “Steel Train” versus the all-female companion “Terrible Thrills Vol. 1”?
Happy "Eclipse" day! This, of course, is the day that "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" heads to theaters across the nation, cancer gets cured, doves fly and Metric releases its music video for "Eclipse (All Yours)."
I'm a fan of the track, and the clip is kind of pandering. I don't say "but it's pandering" because I don't blame the band for making what it's made.
This appeals squarely to the early teenaged girl crowd, much like Paramore was a perfect fit: it features heavily eyelinered Emily Haines scrawling in her journal high school style, laying around in roots and dirt and stuff, crouching helplessly. The rest of the band strolls along the purported Portland seaside and forests. Visions of Kristen Stewart's Bella, Robert Pattinson's Edward and Taylor Lautner's Jacob flicker on a TV. Drummer Joules Scott Key borrows some skins from Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" photo shoot and then promptly hurdles them down a hill.
It will hopefully propel the band into the greater consciousness as we all sit by and wait for Bella and Edward to just get it on, already.