Last year at the U.S. edition of All Tomorrow's Parties, Hope Sandoval sent me straight off to Dreamland, in many good ways. The light-dappled eddies of her butter-smooth voice shot me straight back to 1994, to Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," just a couple years before the Cowboy Junkies charmed the world with the same sound on their cover of the Velvets' "Sweet Jane." It was a cool period where ladies sounded like women, somewhat of a predecessor to artists like Neko Case, Beach House and Liz Phair, at least to these ears.
Mazzy Star -- the winning combination of Sandoval and David Roback -- hasn't released a new album since 1996. They split that year and then around the turn of the century, they went on a brief reunion tour, during which they played unreleased and new songs. Since then, both have sworn that they'd eventually put something out, including that time in 2009 Sandoval swore a new album was coming, even if the release date was a little bit hazy.
The U2 covers keep marching in, "Baby." Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, the Fray, Snow Patrol, Depeche Mode and more have now revealed their takes on songs from U2's "Achtung Baby," compiled into Q Magazine's covers tribute "AHK-toong BAY-bi."
Trent Reznor and his midnight merry men get a little squirrely with the end of "Zoo Station" as Brandon Flowers' dramatic voice flares all over the Killers' cover of "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)." Depeche Mode's "So Cruel" is predictably dark.
"AHK-toong BAY-bi" came out today, packaged with Q Magazine latest. The publication also honored U2 for some damn thing last night at its annual awards show.
"Achtung Baby" gets its own schmancy reissue on Oct. 31. I've already fawned.
Last week, we posted U2 covers from Jack White, Damien Rice and Garbage; below, ah hell, I've just posted as much of the covers set as I can. What's your favorite?
On Kelly Clarkson’s new song “You Love Me,” the singer bemoans her own disintegration: “I’m just a sinking ship” she bawls, as though from said ship. “I’m not as strong as you think.”
This after she’s already declared, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” from Jorgen Elofsson-penned “What Doesn’t Kill You.”
Has Clarkson not been “killed” enough? How much longer does she need to stay in pain?
Because pain and disappointment still spill from the liner notes of the original “American Idol’s” newest album “Stronger.” Loudly lamenting the state of her romantic affairs is no new go-to for Clarkson – and it’s honestly what she does best – but the quantitative and qualitative volume at which she delivers is what makes each new song on “Stronger” just sound like its at competition with itself.
It’s a bit of an optical illusion, saying that Coldplay’s new “Mylo Xyloto” runs 14 tracks long. Three of them are instrumental interludes and intros. One of them should have been trimmed. And one doesn’t belong on this album altogether.
Frontman Chris Martin took visual cues from graffiti and historical inspiration from places like Nazi-occupide Germany to inform his “let’s get out of this town” narrative, as restless boy meets troubled girl and they fly/float into destruction. It, of course, ends with the boy finding solace as he looks toward heaven and hope. Of course.
In this regard, the the British quartet have made a complete and fitting album, this their fifth full-length. “Mylo” comes on the heels of immensely, astronomically successful “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” (2008), the first marriage of Chris Martin’s familiar melodies and Jonny Buckland’s friendly guitar lines with Brian Eno. The veteran producer helped turn some of the sad-sacking into arena-sized laments (see: “Lost?” vs. “Lost!”) and a four-on-the-floor rocker into one of the best-known singles from that year (the album’s “Viva La Vida”).
Here, Eno’s attributions of size and texture remain the same, though the triumph of each song is limited to Martin’s capability of coming up with a melody that sounds new and trustworthy. And with Martin, that’s always a hazy indefinable: with his strongest songs, I’m left dumbstruck that those melodies haven’t ever been written before, and I’m merely glad they finally made their way out. They’re so familiar, sing-songy, like the children’s stuff of “Princess of China” or the stupid-sticky sweetness of “Paradise. But then there's excellent “Charlie Brown,” which recalls Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down,” or “Hurts Like Heaven,” played with a body-shaking “Keep the Car Running” thump. (Buckland, on the other hand, owes fantastical royalties to the Edge for "Us Against the World.")
These aren't bad songs, though. And Martin most accomplished on the album’s earliest single, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall,” the titles and lyrics to which played second fiddle to the bagpipe-like guitar riff and – yes – the return of four-on-the-floor. And perhaps that is the most major downside to Martin’s melodic architecture: it comes at the expense of mediocre lyrics.
Joe Henry’s latest solo set had an open-door policy. Literally. The songwriter and producer kept windows and doors open during the recording process, letting what he called “the racket” lead his backing musicians like T Bone Burnett drummer Jay Bellerose and labelmate Tom Waits’ main axe man Marc Ribot.
“It was a deliberate decision to allow those sounds to be heard as music. Songs don’t happen in a vacuum,” Henry told me in an interview this week. “When you’re writing a song, there’s life coming all around you. [Musicians] try to disappear into some hermetically sealed chamber. I resist that. I believe all kinds of racket to be musical. We called it the weather in the room.”
Of course, allowing “the field” into the room may not be a new, novel idea, but it certainly gives a raw sheen and texture to “Reverie,” released via Anti- last week. These groaning blues and abstractly folk capsules are the composite of Henry’s 12th solo release. His writing has meandered admirably around varying genres over the last two decades, almost as much as his production credits have.
Recently, he left his mark on Hugh Laurie’s New Orleans blues album and Irish songwriter (and Immaculate Noise favorite) Lisa Hannigan’s sophomore set “Passenger.” He’s produced for artists like the late, great, Solomon Burke, Americana mark-makers like The Jayhawks and Son Volt, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann and “my hero since I was 19,” Loudon Wainwright III; he’s worked, too, with his sister-in-law Madonna and composed for major television shows.
However, organizers are trying to counter that this is not a second Record Store Day. It's more to emphasize the importance of indie shops.
"This is a terrific street date of great releases that can only be found at real live record stores. Yes, these pieces are limited, and indeed, some may sell out, and of course, the stores won’t all stock every piece," reads the website. "Mostly, our goal is to remind folks that locally owned, independent record stores, like those that are listed on the site, are a GREAT place to celebrate the holidays, do a little gift-shopping (for yourself or others), support your community, and maybe pick up something really special. And really, that applies all year-round."
Check it out: the Beastie Boys' "Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2" will be out in a vinyl deluxe edition with a 60-page book, 5.1 version of the set and videos. John Lennon's "Imagine" gets a 40th anniversary vinyl boxed set makeover. Nirvana's "Nevermind" singles will be packaged as 10"s in a numbered slip case. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' live vinyl LP "Kiss My Amps (Live)" features 7 tracks, from "Mojo" and a B-Side "Sweet William."
See the whole -- and still-improving list -- here.
The synth lines and high treble mix of B.o.B.'s "Epic" makes me think of the 1990s, but the rapper's lyrics may expose a newer, meaner side of Bobby Ray.
The rapper tapped Meek Mills and Playboy Tre for this puffy-chested, bravado-bearing fight track, with the official video featured in an actual fighting ring.
B.o.B. made more of a mark in the pop space last year, what with hits like "Airplane" feat. Hayley Williams and his guest spot on Bruno Mars' "Nothin' On You." But he's arrived the fall with a tougher outlook: "Strange Clouds" is the title track from his forthcoming sophomore set, with him trying to go toe-to-toe with Lil Wayne (who is having a softie side of his own). Now with "Epic," it looks like he's ready to shed his lightweight status, which took up about half his debut album "The Adventures of Bobby Ray."
In the same week that its announced Bob Dylan is getting a tribute covers album (with help from Ke$ha, no less...), The Smiths are getting theirs, while U2 covers from Jack White and Damian Rice are unearthed.
As previously reported, U2 is making a big fat deal out of their "Achtung Baby" 20th anniversary reissue, and a covers set is intended to enhance that celebration. Q Magazine will be bowing "AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered" -- really, that's its title -- on Nov. 1, and a full tracklist is now available. Nine Inch Nails (!!!), Depeche Mode, The Killers, Garbage and The Fray join previously announced talent like Jack White, Damian Rice and Patti Smith on the 12-song set. A new mix of "Even Better Than the Real Thing" by Jacques Lu Cont is in the mix, coinciding with the band's effort to launch that song as a "new" single from "Achtung."
"AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered" tracklist is below.
With that, fans can already hear White's creepy and fantastic take on "Love Is Blindness," plus Rice's solemn "One," which will have you sightlessly clamoring for your heart in whatever dark place Rice's tired albatross carted it off to and dropped it.
Meanwhile, The Smiths, too, have a cool combo of characters tackling their tunes in "Please, Please, Please: A Tribute to the Smiths." The 20-track collection will be out on Dec. 13 and features Stars, Sixpence None the Richer, Immaculate Noise favorite William Fitzsimmons, Girl in a Coma, Built to Spill's Doug Martsch and Telekinesis. I do not know who Kitten is, but the name delights me.
Here is the tracklist for "AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered":
01. Nine Inch Nails – Zoo Station
02. U2 (Jacques Lu Cont Mix) – Even Better Than The Real Thing
03. Damien Rice – One
04. Patti Smith – Until The End Of The World
05. Garbage – Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
06. Depeche Mode – So Cruel
07. Snow Patrol – Mysterious Ways
08. The Fray – Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World
08. Gavin Friday – The Fly
10. The Killers – Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
11. Glasvegas – Acrobat
12. Jack White – Love Is Blindness
Here is the tracklist for "Please, Please, Please: A Tribute to The Smiths":
01. Kitten – “Panic”
02. The Rest – “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”
03. Joy Zipper – “What Difference Does It Make?”
04. Tanya Donelly w/ Dylan in the Movies – “Shoplifters Of The World Unite”
05. William Fitzsimmons – “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
06. Sixpence None the Richer – “I Won’t Share You”
07. Sara Lov – “Well I Wonder”
08. Greg Laswell – “Half A Person”
09. Dala – “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”
10. Chikita Violenta – “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others”
11. Telekinesis – “Sheila Take A Bow”
12. Solvents – “Is It Really So Strange?”
13. The Wedding Present – “Hand In Glove”
14. Mike Viola and The Section Quartet – “How Soon Is Now?”
15. Trespassers William – “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”
16. Girl in a Coma – “Rubber Ring”
17. Elk City – “I Know It’s Over”
18. Katy Goodman (La Sera, Vivian Girls) – “What She Said”
19. Cinerama – “London”
20. Doug Martsch (Built To Spill) – “Reel Around the Fountain”
Rihanna and her possessor/possessed in "We Found Love"
It's been years past, and yet I -- along with others -- still watch each Rihanna video, and consider: "Is THIS one about Chris Brown?... Is THIS one?"
I will say this: boxer/extremely hot model Dudley O'Shaughnessy stars in the "We Found Love" music video. And he looks suspiciously like Rihanna's ex-Brown. And the two have a nasty fight in a car, alluding to the assault on Grammy night in 2009. Like Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie," this clip, too, illustrates the cyclical and hurtful nature of love and possession.
It nods to Brown. But then, as the lyrics say, I've just "got to let it go."