Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Play It Forward: Terry Malts

San Francisco's, Terry Malts are all set up for the release of their debut album Killing Time, which is set for February 21st, via Slumberland Records. Their sound is a power-pop meets chainsaw-punk, which has given them the title as most talked about band out of San Fran in ages. The album is 14 songs deep and runs at a total of 34 minutes in length, as the songs jump out at you quick and don't slow down. After a careful, week long consideration, the trio decided to go forth on Slumberland's request to record their debut album.

If you are a fan of buzz-saw, fuzzy guitar and drum noise, Terry Malts deliver it all, in a big way. Their live act is a big reason that they are receiving so much buzz, as they offer up a fantastic raw energy and plain and simple just have fun with their music.

Getting To Know Terry Malts:

Bands Members:
Corey Cunningham (Guitar, Backing Vocals)
Phil Benson (Bass Guitar, Lead Vocals)
Nathan Sweatt (Drums, Backing Vocals)

Killing Time Track Listing:
01. Something About You
02. Not Far From It
03. Where Is The Weekend?
04. Tumble Down
05. No Sir, I'm Not A Christian
06. Waiting Room
07. I'm Neurotic
08. Nauseous
09. Mall Dreams
10. No Good For You
11. I Do
12. What Was It
13. Can't Tell No One
14. No Big Deal

The Mary Onettes - Love's Taking Strange Ways

The Mary Onettes have their EP 'Love Forever', set for a February 28th release via Labrador Records. The lead track 'Love's Taking Strange Ways' has a pop friendly vibe to it and is well worth a listen.

Love Forever Track Listings:
1. Love’s Taking Strange Ways
2. Will I Ever Be Ready
3. A Breaking Heart Is A Brilliant Start
4. 8th Of June

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jack White - Blunderbuss ALBUM PREVIEW

Third Man Records just announced the release date for Jack White's debut solo album 'Blunderbuss', which will be available April 24th via Third Man Records/Columbia. The first single from the album is 'Love Interruption' and is streaming over at Jack White's website. Third Man Records will release a 7" of the single featuring non-LP B-side 'Machine Gun Silhouette' on February 7th but it is available for pre-order now. As far as the digital version it will go on sale later tonight at 9 pm PST/12 am EST.

White has this to say on the album... “An album I couldn’t have released until now. I’ve put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas.”

Blunderbuss Tracklist:
01. Missing Pieces
02. Sixteen Saltines
03. Freedom At 21
04. Love Interruption
05. Blunderbuss
06. Hypocritical Kiss
07. Weep Themselves To Sleep
08. I’m Shakin’
09. Trash Tongue Talker
10. Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy
11. I Guess I Should Go To Sleep
12. On And On And On
13. Take Me With You When You Go

Play It Forward: Zulu Winter

Zulu Winter are another London based band that have so much going for them at the moment. The buzz is surely surrounding them, but more then that, they create honest songs that can back everything up. They have been recently supported Friendly Fires on tour, which has built up a nice fanbase and only fueled their cohesiveness. Their sound is very polished and flows so well together which is usually surprising for a band that only has two years under their belt together. They also signed their first record deal with Play It Again Sam records and are busy preparing for their debut album. They have their second single 'We Should Be Swimming' set for release at the end of February. As far as the debut full-length album, keyboardist Dom Millard had this to say in his interview with Secret Shop Sounds... "We're in the final mixing stage at the moment, just tweaking a few bits and bobs. Hopefully it should be released at the beginning of May, and its sounding blooming ace!"

The first single from Zulu Winter is 'Never Leave' and it offers up a hazy mix of well polished rock noises. The 2nd single 'We Should Be Swimming' is a more upbeat catchy, indie pop like tune. Millard also mentions in his interview that "The album will have a few more tracks in a similar vein, but also some other more atmospheric tracks with some out there sonic treats as well. We hope that the album as a whole will show a cross section of sounds all filtered through the Zulu Winter, whatever that may be!"
Take a listen below to some of Zulu Winter's tracks and you will catch the vibe almost instantly at one of 2012 best up and coming bands.

Getting To Know Zulu Winter:

Band Members:
Iain Lock (Bass)
Henry Walton (Guitar)
Will Daunt (Vocals & Guitar)
Dom Millard (Keyboard)
Guy Henderson (Drums)

We Should Be Swimming by Zulu Winter

Let's Move Back to Front by Zulu Winter

Memoryhouse - Walk With Me

Toronto dream-pop duo Memoryhouse, have shared a second track from their highly anticipated debut album, 'The Slideshow Effect'. The track is titled 'Walk With Me' and it is a slow burner that gradually builds up its dreamy tempo - think of it as a very shy tune that has an inner confidence.

'The Slideshow Effect' is set for a February 28th release via Sub Pop Records.  Pick up free album tracks 'Walk With Me' and 'The Kids Were Wrong' below.

The Slideshow Effect Track Listing:
01. Little Expressionless Animals
02. The Kids Were Wrong
03. All Our Wonder
04. Punctum
05. Heirloom
06. Bonfire
07. Pale Blue
08. Walk With Me
09. Kinds of Light
10. Old Haunts

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Greg Dulli Covers Leonard Cohen's "Paper Thin Hotel"

I have to say that I really can't get enough of Greg Dulli.

Finding something as amazing as this performance is especially exciting for me as a music lover.

Rollingstone had this to say:

"Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli recorded this version of Leonard Cohen's "Paper Thin Hotel" as part of Old Ideas with New Friends, a new series of Cohen covers by artists such as Deerhunter's Bradford Cox, Old 97s' Rhett Miller, Cold War Kids and the New Pornographers' A.C. Newman. "I wanted to do a version of this song because I think they might be my favorite set of Leonard Cohen lyrics," says Dulli. "I think they kind of explain and validate love all at the same time.""

For me, the performance carries the same emotional resonance as any of Dulli's own songs and he manages to create something with this as if it were his own. Dulli has a style all his own and he holds strong to that finesse in everything that he does.

A video like this only strengthens and reminds me why Dynamite Steps was my favorite album of last year...

...in fact, I think I'll give it a listen right now.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

The War On Drugs - Brothers VIDEO

The War On Drugs just released an incredible new video for "Brothers" off of their latest effort, Slave Ambient. I have to admit I was a bit of a late bloomer on coming around to The War On Drugs, but now there is no looking back.

The War on Drugs - Brothers from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Play It Forward: Breton

Breton are more then your average London band, they are a unique blend of artistic talent that is combined with the arts of music and film. There is a unique mystic about them and their associated BretonLABS name tag. They currently have a fantastic EP that you can pick up for free on their Facebook page titled Blanket Rule EP. They are also set up to release their debut album Other People's Problems on March 27th via FatCat Records. You can take a listen and check out the video for 'The Commission' below which will be the first cut from the new album.

The song offers the listener a sense of escape and a belief that one can accomplish anything. It is some what of a soul searching experience that the music takes you on. The album was recorded in Iceland at Sigur Ros' Sundlaugin studio, if that gives you a sense of what kind of experience you are in for.  Also check out the song/video 'Edward The Confessor' as it offers up some WU LYF angst simularities.  Overall, Breton is a band that you will want to keep on your radar and be sure to give their album Other People's Problems a serious listen.

Getting To Know Breton:
FREE: Blanket Rule EP

Band Members:
Roman Rappak
Adam Ainger
Ian Patterson
Daniel McIlvenny
Alex Wadey

BLANKET RULE - EP by bretonlabs

The Dreaming - "Breathing" Acoustic

Right now if you go over to The Dreaming's Facebook page they are giving away a free download of an acoustic version of "Breathing."

The track is very cool and carries the same emotional intensity as the original except with acoustic guitars.

According to their Facebook page, lead singer Christopher Hall picked up his acoustic guitar and did some recording. Hopefully we'll get a chance to hear some more. I am still a big fan of the acoustic EP they released a few years ago and would love to hear another batch of stripped down tunes.

Here's the acoustic version of "Whole"


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nada Surf "The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy"

It's safe to say that the New York band Nada Surf have had their fair share of ups and downs, and I am glad they are here to stay. Nada Surf formed in the early 90s in New York City. Matthew Caws (Guitar/Vocals) and Daniel Lorca (Bass) attended Lycee francais de New York, an exclusive French-medium school, with Ira Elliot (Drums) to join in 1995.

In 1996 Nada Surf unexpectedly found Major success signing to Elektra with the release of their debut album "High/Low." Most commonly known for their hit "Popular." Despite the single, Hi/Low is a really solid album, with standout tracks such as "Stalemate."

In 1998 the band released their followup album, "The Proximity Effect." At this time Nada Surf had a falling out with Elektra as the label asked then to write a hit, pushing on cover tracks like Vitreous Humor's "Why Are You So Mean to Me" (also a very good band/album). However the band refused to work on the album any further, believing it was artistically perfect. I am biased, however I will just state now the album is nothing short of perfect. Eventually, the band was dropped from Elektra and spent the next few years struggling to get the rights over the album to release it on their own terms. Personal standout tracks: "80 Windows", "Bacardi", "Robot."

In 2002 the band released what is often referred to as their "comeback" album "Let Go." Released on Barsuk. Coincidentally, I sort of re-discovered Nada Surf through Barsuk records about the time Let Go was released. I remember hearing the song "The Way You Wear Your Head" and falling in love with the song and album soon after. The album has the perfect mix of catchy melodic indie rock songs with short guitar solos (Hi-Speed Soul) and some more acoustic based ballads like "Blonde on Blonde" and "Inside of Love." I also really enjoy bonus tracks "No Quick Fix" and "End Credits."

"The Weight Is a Gift" is Nada Surf's fourth length album produced by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla. It was released in 2005 on Barsuk Records. I had read somewhere the the album, "answers questions of lust, deception, greed, love and joy and regret and the rites of passage you weren't quite ready to pass through." Standout tracks: "Concrete Bed", "Always Love", "What is Your Secret", "Blankest Year."

"Lucky" is one of my all time favorite albums. The first four tracks seal the deal for me. From the fingerpicked opening track "See These Bones" climaxing towards the end. Into the albums first single "Whose Authority" which can be described as minimalistic pop music with vulnerable vocals. "Here Goes Something" a fine acoustic ballad.

In 2010 the band recorded a series of covers and released the album titled "If I Had a Hi-Fi." Noteable tracks include, "Electrocution" a bill fox cover and "Enjoy the Silence" originally by Depeche Mode.

Finally, here we are. The seventh studio album "The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy" was released this past tuesday January 24th (Barsuk/US, City Slang/UK). Nada Surf are three musicians who love the way rock music can transport you to a new wonderful place. As stated by Caws, "here was OK, but there was much better," referring to a set of speakers. I admire bands who have the ability to grow and change, while allowing the simple element that make them who they are present. With this album they do it over and over again.

"Clear Eye Clouded Mind" kicks the album off with a blaze of guitars and distortion with Caw's unique feathery boyish yet soulful voice. The album's running theme is the passage of time, which is apparent throughout the whole album with lyrics like "It always feels like I'm waiting for something," on the albums second track. Or on "When I Was Young," caws signs "When I was young, I didn't know if I was better off asleep or up/ I wonder what that world I was dreaming of."

This theme of passage is also very apparent on one of my favorite tracks "Looking Through," "Every birthday candle/ that ever got blown out/is one more year of someone/trying to figure it all out." The album ponders many questions: what to take and leave from youth, how to deal with responsibility, how to stay curious while being content.

Some of the songs offer a lot of imagery from the outside world and feel more of a voyage vs self-analysis on tracks like "The Future." Yet some feel unconscious. "I like the lines 'bring me up/deliver me out/ take me to the door/ I'm not running anymore,'" says Caws of "The Moon is Calling," "because on a certain level, I had no idea what I was talking about, but I felt ecstatic making it up."

With all being said, this album is more optimistic and has and outward looking in tone. The overall album is summed up in the last lines "and I cannot believe / the future's happening to me." And I could not possibly say it better than quoted, "The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy continues the notion of music as an alternative reality, and songs as things you can keep by your side for inspiration and support. Which is what makes Nada Surf a truly beloved band." Well done Nada Surf, Well Done.

Nada Surf will also be stopping in Salt Lake City at Urban Lounge on March 27th. Check back after the show for photos and a live review.

Stream the album here this week at: http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/spinner#/1

"The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy"

1. Clear Eye Clouded Mind
2. Waiting For Something
3. When I Was Young
4. Jules and Jim
5. The Moon Is Calling
6. Teenage Dreams
7. Looking Through
8. Let The Flight Do The Fighting
9. No Snow On The Mountain
10. The Future

(If I Had A Hi-Fi)

Poor Moon (Fleet Foxes/Crystal Skulls) to Release LP

Once upon a time there was a band called Crystal Skulls who released a few albums. I had been patiently waiting and waiting for a new release, wondering if Crystal Skulls were even still a band. One sunny afternoon I found out two of the members Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott joined the Fleet Foxes, which I want to take a moment to say I am more than ok with.

Starting off as a long distant project with demos sent back and fourth while Wargo and Wescott were touring in support of the Fleet Foxes debut album. Brothers Ian and Peter Murray (The Christmas Cards) were living in the Bay Area. Their first shows were intimate Seattle house parties where they used playful throwaway names such as, Rabbit Kingdom. Things began to take form when the band opened up for "Deakin" at Seattles Neumos. Now signed to Sub Pop and under the name Poor Moon, the four members are releasing their debut EP "Illusion" on March 27th.

Races "The Year of the Witch" LP

Races exists as the result of artistic rebirth and personal rediscovery. Wade Ryff's hit a point in life (as many artists do) where motivation was scarce. He was faced with the dilemma of being 23, a failed relationship, and being stuck at his parents house in suburbia where he wrote the lyrics to "Big Broom." He explains the songs message is about, "accepting that every ending is a new beginning, and even if we may have no control over when things are given or taken from us, we can always choose how to respond."

At the same time a handful of other musicians were faced with the same challenge of idling through their 20s in search of a new beginning. In a "mad dash" Ryff and Herberg got in touch with some of their old friends an assembled a "dream team" of five. Knowing each other from playing in previous bands together, Breanna Wood (Keyboards), Garth Herberg (Guitar), Lucas Ventura (Drums), Devon Lee (Vocals/Percussion) and Oliver Hild (Bass) would soon become Races.

The vocals on the second track "Big Broom" are both dreamy and engaging mixing male/females vocals. They have created an almost classic-psych sound while keeping it indie and pop driven. Although, at its core, there are plenty of waltzes such as: "The Knife", "Walk Through Fire", and "All For You" which all have the melodic lyrical directness of Ryff's solo work.

Races is already writing material for their followup album, where they hope to integrate more electronic textures. While remaining modest, they are speeding up with goals to play at venues such as the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. All in all, I have much appreciation for an album that heavily touches the subject of that uncertain/weird time most of us go through in our early 20s with such optimism for a bright future.

Buzzbands LA : "the sextet “melds charismatic indie-pop highlighted by the boy/girl vocals of Wade Ryff and Devon Lee, jammier psych-rock built around by guitarist’s Garth Herberg’s textures and the revivalesque energy meted out by bands such as Arcade Fire.” That’s a mouthful, but its right on.

KCRW : "Lead vocalist, Wade Ryff, who is trained in theory and also arrangement via piano, is taking the microphone for the first time and really catching the ears of many

Races "The Year of the Witch" Available March 27th

1. Year Of The Child
2. Big Broom
3. Song Of Birds
4. Lies
5. The Knife
6. Living Cruel & Rude
7. In My Name
8. Don't Be Cruel
9. Walk Through The Fire
10. All For You
11. Year of the Which

Blind Pilot - Urban Lounge (March 28th Review)

To start off, I have to admit. I have a special place in my heart for anything in the folk genre. Being a huge fan of bands like Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, Dr. Dog, etc. the list goes on. Anyways, Blind Pilot was one of those bands for me where I would be sitting at my desk working, listening to pandora and suddenly they would come on. This happened too many times until I finally decided to look into who was actually playing these songs that I really really liked. Blind Pilot it was! A duo from Portland, Oregon who originally started out as a duo.

Blind Pilot reased their debut album, "3 Rounds and a Sound" in 2009. I think the main reason Blind Pilot had such an initial impact on me was the subtle arrangement and craftsmanship of the songs. "Go On Say It" is no exception to this being a perfect example as the song starts out with the simple strumming of guitar and a basic drum beat, which actually stay constant throughout the whole song. Half way through the song violins make an entrance. The whole album as a certain subtle sound and sincerity to it that continues onto their followup album released in September of 2011, "We Are the Tide."

Anyways, I am not trying to do a super in depth review of the albums, we all know how great they are. I simply want to state that Blind Pilot for one, is an incredible indie folk band. And secondly, they will be playing a show at Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City this Saturday January 28th and you will be missing out unless you go! Check back after Saturday for photos and a live review of the show.

Blind Pilot :: 'New York' via @liveset from Blind Pilot on Vimeo.

Sound Check Retrospective

Something I've been wanting to do for awhile on the site is to post a Sound Check Retrospective of the past year. "But, Fr!" you say. "The time for retrospectives is over! We are one full month into 2012!" To which I casually reply:

Since when do they make rules for retrospectives? Everything that's happened is in our past- so why wait until December to properly chronicle it? Besides, I joined Fake Plastic Tunes in April 2011, did my first Sound Check in May, and I really don't want to wait three more months to do a commemorative retrospective. So the nostalgia police can take me away- guilty as charged. On we go.

As I mentioned before, I did my first Sound Check in May of last year. And from May onward, all of my interviews had one thing in common- the final question-

"Any advice to up-and-coming artists struggling to make it in the oversaturated 21st century music industry?"

So in the spirit of the new Play it Forward columns featured on FPT, let's take a glimpse and see what advice our favorite artists had for us.

"I’m not sure if we know any good tricks or secrets or advice yet. We’re still really fresh fish in the pond ourselves. Be yourself, have something real and honest to present, and figure out a way to get people interested, and be connected to the internet. Or something like that."

- Team Me, 5/26/11

"Don't google yourself."

- Brilliant Colors, 6/4/2011

"It's always a bit weird for a band in our position to offer advice...Probably better off to say a tip where one can learn from our mistakes. The music industry continues to change, but I think there's one principal that always remains the same. Don't over saturate your own market, go out on the road as far as you can as often as you can.
Paul: Update your maps."

- Readymade Breakup, 6/7/2011

"Be creative, new, exciting, loud, silent, screamish, abstract, a workaholic, extravert…well, unique would sum it up. And be out there."

- Sander Kleinenberg, 6/8/2011

"To be patient and don't upload any shit just because is free."

- Strausz, 6/9/2011

"Please make sure you do your research before the interview... at the moment we're not convinced you are capable of doing it, but that might change. To even suggest that Alec Empire fears 'advancement of artistic expression' (while his discography couldn't be more diverse and proves the exact opposite) doesn't really make you come across as a writer who is qualified enough for the task."

- Atari Teenage Riot, 6/14/2011 (on why I'm not qualified enough in music to write a negative review of Atari Teenage Riot- a little off-topic, but had to include these guys)

"I guess I'd say keep working, writing, and creating. To quote prof. Gail Sher, "If writing is your practice, then the only way to fail is not to write.""

- Arrange, 6/18/2011

"Stay true to what you really wanna create! Tell your story no matter what it is... Follow your heart, there lies your passion!"

- The Glitch Mob, 6/22/2011

"Don’t be afraid to try anything. Be honest with people and yourself. I think it’s pretty understood that if you want things to happen, you have to do it. You can’t just sit around and wait for it to happen. If you want to release something, say “Look, I’m releasing this.” Surrounding yourself with positive people, you’re going to get positive results. It’s pretty understood I guess. I’m pretty shocked still about how I got to where I am now. It just happened really fast and it’s not really a familiar career path. The way I got here is the most common way, through the internet. And that is still weird to me."

- Toro Y Moi, 6/24/2011

"What music industry?"

- The Demos, 7/5/2011

"I say save your money. There is no reason to invest a lot of money in your music, at least until you make it to a place where you can afford it. You can do everything yourself. Just find friends that are good at different aspects of the industry and go from there."

- Elemental Zazen, 7/18/2011

"Be honest with yourself. Create what you want to see. Be a force. Hack the planet."

- Pictureplane, 8/4/2011

"We don't really know if one should get involved with the music industry nowadays ... We still believe in good music, music with a soul ... This kind of music will always find its way to people, no matter how ... Our advise - don't follow any trends, do what you want to do. Always question yourself if you want to do music because you want to become famous and successful in the music industry or if you just want to do good music. It's a big difference ..."

- Modeselektor, 8/8/2011

"Don't expect to make any money for a long time."

- Reptar, 8/11/2011

"Don't think of it as struggling and you'll be just fine."

- Braids, 8/22/2011

"Try to find another job because it’s very hard now. It’s not the best job on earth right now."

- M83, 8/24/2011

"My advice is to keep recording. If it’s music that you’re into and songwriting, just write as many songs as you can because it’s through that process that you really start to do your own thing and create your own sound. I think it takes a long time to do that, so be patient. I think the power of the Internet has leveled the playing field a bit. You don’t have to have a lot of money to put into promotion or anything. If the song is good, there are chances you can put it in front of people with the Internet. And if it’s good enough, it will rise to the top. So be patient and work hard."

- Washed Out, 8/29/2011

"Just make the record you want to listen to. Everything else will follow."

- The Antlers, 9/13/2011

"If you want to be famous, be a bloody tv presenter. Don't make a record. This girl once approached me and asked me how i got to front a band and what process i went through to do it. Well, i did it by accident and because i had something to say. I actually felt quite uncomfortable with the idea. I think the challenges make it interesting. Otherwise i would have married a rich man and put my feet up. Spent my days riding horses."

- Anika, 9/16/2011

"Hm, just the obvious one: first make music and then you can think of the industry, not the other way around."

- The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble, 9/22/2011

"Don't compromise any of your artistic integrity. Do what you do, and if people start listening, that's great. Don't get a day job if you don't want to. If you have a fall back plan, you will end up falling back on it."

- Real Estate, 9/26/2011

"Go to New York."

- Grimes, 9/28/2011

"Don't worry about being sucessful. Just make music that you like and if you genuinely achieve that, somebody else will like it too."

- Battles, 10/11/2011

"Don’t think you have to move to a big city to do it. Just work your ass off and believe in your music. Do what you have to do."

- Phantogram, 11/7/2011

"One- I’d say to not expect to get paid at first- and to be okay with it. Be okay with being broke for awhile. If you want to make money, go do something else. And two- work at it. I see a lot of bands worrying about all the other things- merch and touring and all that. And I agree that those are important things- but you’ve got to spend time writing and that’s number one. Write, write, write. Because the rest of it is simple. The rest of it- you can read a book to figure out how to do the other stuff. Don’t rush into trying to become successful soon because it’s not about that. It’s a great thing when people become successful soon, but it’s rare. Do it because you’re an artist and that’s it."

- Other Lives, 12/1/2011

Thanks to all the artists who participated in the 2011 Sound Checks. Here's to 2012- where we hope to get Claire Boucher of Grimes and Sarah Barthel of Phantogram to take part in a televised debate regarding their conflicting advice.

We'll see.

- Fr. Jones

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die ALBUM REVIEW

What can I say about Elizabeth Grant, aka Lana Del Rey, that hasn't already been said... (either by Lana, herself, Brian Williams, Juliette Lewis, Hipster Runoff, Pitchfork, etc. etc)? Her trek to becoming a hipster's wet dream/worst nightmare has been well documented over the past year or so, and that makes writing this piece incredibly difficult, mainly for the following reasons:

Number One: You've probably already heard of Lana Del Rey, and have therefore, also probably made a judgement about her already. You either can not get enough of her, and will rush out as soon as you can to get the album. Or, on the other hand, you might be nauseated by the notion of more press for the songstress, thus making you unlikely to want to hear another note of her music.

Number Two: By writing this article I'm begrudgingly succumbing to the "hype." Lana Del Rey's name has become as polarizing as the word "hipster." She is, undoubtedly, the new poster-child of the indie music industry, a title she has publicly bashed. I'll be the first to admit that I understand the hype surrounding her as much as I comprehend the modern use of the term "hipster," which is not a lot.

And finally, 3) I'm a male. Now, I'm not one to use gender as a crutch or an excuse, but Born To Die is full of themes centering around feminism and sexuality, and I've never felt as (initially) alienated by the first listen of an album as I did with Born To Die. Lana Del Rey's songs rarely, if ever, feature lyrics not centered around sex and/or heartbreak... And there is absolutely no flaw in this; she earned the reputation she has by writing songs focusing on these controversial themes, and Lana Del Rey has been thrust into our world to sell records. But to be honest, by the end of listening to Born To Die the first time, I started to hate myself (listen to the track: "Video Games").

So... the album. 

Set to release on January 27 here in the US, Born To Die is a legitimately great album, and will likely be granted more acclaim and attention than any other album this year, and for good reason. Her superb song writing is equally matched by the amazing production for the album. Satisfying a wide array of sub genres, Born To Die finds Lana Del Rey moving from soul, to rock, to blues, sometimes all in one track. And the phenomenal mixing and production on the album even channels some hip-hop influences as well. 

It is undeniable that Lana Del Rey's voice is spectacular; as refined as it is chilling, as awe-inspiring as it is ominous. This leads me to the most polarizing thing about Born To Die: the conundrums that arise when listening to her songs. 

Her voice is undeniably gorgeous, but her vocals are matched with lyrics that are simultaneously dark and visceral while being sexual and lascivious; giving way to her self-described style as a "'Gangsta' Nancy Sinatra." 

As much as I hate that description, it's difficult to deny it. LDR's crooning talents are showcased on nearly every track on the album. Tracks like "Born to Die," and "Video Games" are unbelievably dreary and tragic (especially as a male listener), but still manage to maintain a sense of exquisiteness.

In fact, all of the songs on the album fit somewhere within that duality; any optimism brought on by a line of lyrics is immediately downtrodden by the pessimism of the next. One of the album's most beautifully written songs, "Million Dollar Man" appears to be the lone spirited track on the album, but LDR crashes this mood quickly: "You're screwed up/ You're brilliant/ You look like a Million Dollar Man/ So why is my heart broke?" 

[Instead, Del Rey saves the most sanguine song for a bonus track, titled "Lucky Ones".]

And then there's the songs like "Diet Mountain Dew" and "This Is What Makes Us Girls," which showcase a little of the "gangsta" side of her persona. These tracks, as well as "Off to the Races" and "Lolita" (a bonus track, which is a rework of a track from her previous album) highlight as being catchy pop songs layered with hip-hop-style-sampling and production. While the tracks are good in their own right, they almost stick out like a sore thumb on Born To Die, as LDR steps away from her strong suit of bleak-yet-beautiful compositions.

Born To Die, as an album, suggests that Lana Del Rey is an incredibly smart musician. She plays off of the enigmas mentioned above, and creates a remarkably beautiful collection of music. She pushes the buttons necessary to get attention and notoriety, and with this comes backlash and cynicism. But unlike many others who have failed before her, Lana Del Rey delivers a solid group of songs that beg you to look past the "hype," as nauseating as it can be at times.

Now, go ahead... call me a hipster.

Album Rating: 4.1/5

Lana Del Rey's Official Website

Lana Del Rey's Official Video for "Born To Die":

Play It Forward: The Cast of Cheers

The Cast of Cheers are a 4-piece band out of Dublin, and they put them self in the Robot Rock genre. Back in 2010 they put their debut album 'Chariot' on bandcamp for free for all to enjoy. They recorded the album in a total of 3 days, and the album went on to rack up 150,000 downloads. They now have their proper debut single 'Family' set for release on February 20th via School Boy Error/Cooperative Music.

'Family' is the first single from their proper debut album which is set to see its release later in 2012. The Cast of Cheers have a very upbeat tempo to their music, it comes at you fast and never slows down. Their music is a cross between The Futureheads meets Foals meets Bloc Party. They are currently on tour, co-headlining with another up and coming promising band Theme Park. Take a good listen to both 'Family' and 'Goose' and you will get a feel for the bands high energy, dance floor anthems.

Getting to Know The Cast of Cheers:

Group Members:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Play It Forward: Spector

Spector are a 5-piece rock band from London, and they have been gaining quite the buzz lately. They have that good old Brit Pop sound mixed with the modern day guitar indie rock. Spector would be a decent mirror image to what The Vaccines brought to the 2011 music scene. They have all the same catchy guitar, sing along anthems and could very well be in line for the title of the new Vaccines of 2012. Frontman Fred Macpherson has been in a few bands (Les Incompetents, Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man) before forming Spector. He spent a few months writing songs in his bedroom with just a Casio keyboard and a few Gloria Estefan samples. Since then the band has been on fire, recieving high praise from all the music big wigs overseas and now trying to crack into the USA.

They have been nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll. They also are set to do their UK tour starting this February and also have been penciled in as a support act for the massive Florence and the Machine tour in March. Take a listen to the single 'What You Wanted', the song glows with its perfect blend of Brit Pop meets Indie Rock sound. They currently don't have an album out but have a few singles that should be heavily played.  They have released 3 singles to date and one more that is on the way:

'Never Fade Away' - April 29, 2011
'What You Wanted' - September 19, 2011
'Grey Shirt and Tie' - December 5, 2011
'Chevy Thunder' - February 27, 2012

You can pick up both 'What You Wanted' and 'Never Fade Away' over on iTunes now.

Getting To Know Spector:

Group Members:
Frederick Macpherson (Vocals)
Chistopher Burman (Guitar)
Thomas Shickle (Bass)
Danny Blandy (Drums)
Jed Cullen (Guitar, Synth)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Play It Forward: Devin

Brooklyn, NY seems to be a draw for musical talent, and that is exactly where Devin is from. Devin is not just another name to add to the ongoing list of credible music acts that have surfaced out of Brooklyn. With all the indie/showgaze up and coming bands from NY, Devin gets back to that edgy raw Rock n Roll sound that has been missing for a few years. Devin Therriault is the man who makes up Devin. He brings with him a heavy dose of vintage guitar rock that is never shy. After taking a few listens to the track 'You're Mine' I felt a strong resemblence to the Arctic Monkeys earlier days. NME also pegged him as sounding like "a youthful Costello - mean, dead-eyed and dead serious - which is handy becasuse, musically, his songs drip with the same kind of passion and pure filth that made The Attractions so important."

Devin has his debut EP titled 'You're Mine' out now on Frenchkiss Records. You can also head over to Devin's website and sign up for his mailing list and in return pick up a free track 'You're Mine'

You're Mine EP Tracklisting:
1. You're Mine
2. Thing On My Mind
3. Black and Blue

Getting To Know Devin:

Devin - Thing On My Mind by WorkItMedia

Wilco - 'Whole Love' & 'Dawned On Me' (Live on Conan)

Wilco stopped by Conan O'Brien last night and performed two songs from their latest album The Whole Love. Check out both 'Whole Love' and 'Dawned On Me' below courtesy of The Audio Perv.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rumor: Atoms For Peace

Back on September 21st, 2011 Thom Yorke was a guest on Gilles Peterson's Radio 1 show. Thom revealed that Radiohead will be touring in 2012 saying that "The idea is to go out and play next year on and off during the year." He also went on to say that Atoms For Peace album was on the verge of being completed. Atoms For Peace includes Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea, Nigel Godrich, Mauro Refosco and Joey Waronker. The band have already played a couple of shows back in 2010 and now are set to release a proper album. Thom stated that touring with Atoms For Peace "sparked something off, it was really exciting... It had really good energy."  Flea has also mentioned the new album in an interview, and Nigel Godrich has been confirmed as producer. 

Today there has been a rumor going around that the Atoms For Peace album will be announced tonight at midnight. Details on the rumor, well there are not many but you can be the judge. The brand new record label 'Occupation Records' will be launching at midnight, January 24th, and what better way to launch a new record label then to have its first release be Atoms For Peace.  This rumor could be shot down quickly as The Guardian are now reporting that the Occupation Records label's first release will be an album titled Folk The Banks and will be the first of a projected four album series.

Pitchfork also commented on Thom Yorke, Massive Attack and Tim Goldsworthy that they would be having something on the label back on December 6th, 2011 so Thom already has ties with Occupation Records . Also check out this music boards speculation on the release. Whatever the deal though, 2012 will for sure have an Atoms For Peace album, the title, date, tracklist, and artwork is all just a big To Be Determined. 

Play It Forward: And The Giraffe

And The Giraffe are a duo out of Gainesville, Florida who title their music in the "Ambient Dream Folk" genre. After taking a few listens to their newest single/video 'Underground Love' you get a feeling of a very somber and dreamy type of blend that makes you want to continue to come back to their musical mystery. The video for 'Underground Love' kind of does their sound justice as you listen to the song you keep thinking to yourself what is it that I am wanting to discover or find out about in their music?  The video shows a gift that is being travelled person to person and what is inside nobody really knows, but finding its owner and who it belongs to is the real purpose.

And The Giraffe have a perfect blue print for developing a relaxing and dreamy sound. Take a good long listen to 'Underground Love' and see where the music takes you.

Getting To Know And The Giraffe:

Group Members:
Nick Roberts
Josh Morris

Cloud Nothings - No Future/No Past VIDEO

Cloud Nothings are set to release their newest album Attack On Memory tomorrow, but before that we get a nice look in on the video for track 'No Future/No Past'. The song and video go very well together as when you listen to the song you almost feel as the music is dragging you from point A to point B, take a look you will see what I mean.  The video is the product of a collaboration between Cloud Nothings, Carpark Records, director John Ryan Manning and Urban Outfitters. You can read an interview with director Ryan Manning, cinematographer Caleb Crossen and drummer Jayson Gercyz about the making of the video here

Cloud Nothings - "No Future / No Past" Official Video from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.

Andrew Bird - Eyeoneye

Andrew Bird has a new track streaming titled 'Eyeoneye', which is taken from his upcoming Break It Yourself album. It is kind of a boom or bust song, that continues picking up steam as it goes along right up until the end. Bird shows his versatility as a man-of-many-instruments in this track. The album was said to be recorded in Bird’s barn in Western Illinois, but by the sounds of 'Eyeoneye' there are no barnyard resemblance going on here. Break It Yourself, is Birds sixth LP and it will be released March 6th, 2012 via Mom + Pop.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jackie Greene 1/21/2012 SLC, Utah – CONCERT REVIEW

This was my third time seeing Greene in concert, the first time being when he opened for Ratdog back in 2009. I was extremely impressed then and was equally as much this evening.

Greene has a subtle way of building energy during his live shows. He appears to know that many of the fans come from the Grateful Dead followers so he shows his own support to them and the groups that have obviously inspired him by playing some Grateful Dead favorites with “Bertha”, “Shakedown Street”, a “Casey Jones” instrumental interlude, and even a tease of “Terrapin” near the end.

The whole evening felt very covers heavy. The highlight of the evening for me was the epic combination of “Heard it Through the Grape Vine” which went into “Another Brick in the Wall(Instrumental)” by Pink Flloyd, followed by the Dead’s “Shakedown Street” into the “Casey Jones(Instrumental)” and then finally back to a short “Heard it Through the Grape Vine(Reprise). It was a you’ve-got-to-be-there kind of moment that won’t leave my mind any time soon.

Jackie did play plenty of his own tunes as well which are just as strong in my opinion. “Gone Wanderin’” is one of my personal favorites of his and was certainly welcome to hear live as well as “Hollywood”, and “I Don’t Live in a Dream.”

Overall the evening was quite exceptional. I felt that the second set was missing the momentum that the first set had built up but I still walked away from the show excited for the next time he comes to town.