19
Dec

Watch The National Perform “England” at the US Embassy in England

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The jury’s still out as of now for our Best Concert of 2014.  But right at or very near the top will be The National’s rain-catharsis show at The Santa Barbara Bowl in late April.  Despite our drought-addled environment, rain suddenly fell that night, and it felt like a sing and show from above.  As we wrote: “while the band was sailing along during their set, the skies opened up (especially the downpour during Slow Show and amidst the oh-so-apropos England) and righteously baptized the proceedings.”  They are simply America’s (if not the world’s) best live band.

We’ve just discovered that the folks at the US Embassy in London began the Winfield House Sessions this year “to tap the special diplomatic power of live music, which can dispel differences and stir our sense of humanity’s common ground.” Check out the majestic performance below of the epic England at the Embassy below.  The video begins with the introduction of the band by US Ambassador Matthew Berzun as his “favorite.”  We’ve got that in common Mr. Ambassador.

19
Dec

Watch Jenny Lewis and Ryan Adams on Jimmy Kimmel Live and at The Wiltern

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Colbert wrapped up his Report last night with a massive, star-studded singalong, and the Foo Fighters took over Letterman, so it would have been easy to miss the great Jenny Lewis backed by pal Ryan Adams on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  Adams co-produced Lewis’s pop-masterpiece, The Voyager, which will appear high up on our list of the Best Albums of 2014Adams has recently joined Lewis for some dates on her tour (and on Wednesday at Adams’ concert at the Wiltern he covered She’s Not Me and had Lewis join him on Oh My Sweet Carolina and Come Pick Me Up).  See the latter at bottom–beauty right there.

Check out below the two sterling performances of She’s Not Me and Just One of The Guys below by Lewis and ensemble.  Lewis is in fine vocal form, her band is in sync and Adams has some nice guitar flourishes to lend (particularly on the former).  By the way, can we all finally agree that those inflatable balls have got to be banned from concerts?  Are you there to get lost in the music or pretend you are seven years old and its your birthday party?  Please, no mas.

18
Dec

Check Out New Electrified Laura Marling Song “Short Movie” Via Animated Video

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Over the years as she has evolved and we’ve adapted, we’ve come to appreciate more the artistry of Laura Marling.  The British singer has been (and has taken her fans) on an emotional roller-coaster ride over her four albums, but each time the railcars seem to summit higher.  Comes now the 24-year old singer’s announcement that she will release her fifth studio album Short Movie (cover above) in March.  The album evidently revolves around Marling’s attempts to find a sense of stability, after permanently relocating to Los Angeles (Silver Lake) last year.  She explains in a statement: “I realized that I hadn’t been in a place for longer than two or three weeks since I was 16. I thought, ‘I wonder what will happen if I try and root myself somewhere [and] look back over the past eight years.’”

Check out the building, inspirational song below in which electric guitar is pushed to the fore and Marling lays out her personal take on our (comparatively) short sequences here.  The animated video draws you in and gives graphic aid to the song’s lyrics (see below the video).  We especially like her tremendous tremolo-vocal flourishes at and after 3:21 in the song that harken back to the great Joni Mitchell.

You can pre-order the album HERE.

I am paying for my mistake
That’s okay
I know when I will pull in
It’s a short f-ing movie, man
I know
I will try and take it slow
Bought a lot of color drugs
Come on, what’s it about?
Gave me sick to make me well
Come on, rock the hell
I got up in the world today
Wondered who it was I could save
Who do you think you are?
Just a girl that can play guitar
I think I could get away with
Saying only half what I say
No, I can’t give you up
Oh no, I’m not gonna stop
But they know
But they’ll never know why
They know
But they’ll never know why
I don’t know what we’re afraid of
But I know, I don’t mind
Oh no, I don’t mind
If I fall in love to the sound of birds
On the wind
And kiss, I’m loving
They know
But they’ll never know why
They know
But they’ll never know why
They know that I loved you
But they don’t know why
They know that I loved you
But they don’t know why
It’s kicking off, it’s kicking of
Now it’s short f-ing movie, man
Now it’s short f-ing movie, man
Now it’s short f-ing movie, man
Now it’s short f-ing movie, man
I know
I won’t try and take your soul
I know
I won’t try to take your soul

17
Dec

Watch Kendrick Lamar Electrify The Colbert Report With New Song

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Last night Kendrick Lamar closed down The Colbert Report (as the last musical guest) by introducing a scintillating new, unnamed song.  As usual, Lamar simply lit up the stage.  The new song has it all.  Riffing on the advice forced on him/us by seemingly everyone on the planet (agents, Indians, neighbors, you name ‘em), the song begins spoken-word and segues through jazz-inflected flourishes of flute and saxophone while accelerating to a stunning finish.  Watch as Thundercat (Flying Lotus) supports on bass (with a crazy head-thingy), Bilal and Anna Wise backing on vocals and Terrence Martin delivers on sax, along with a cast of awesome.  No one does it better.  And of course Colbert opens with his usual hilarious interview/speech of the artist.  Now THAT’S entertainment!  Watch the performance followed by the interview below.

16
Dec

Watch Sharon Van Etten Unplugged and Substantiating Her Spot Atop the Best of 2014 Lists

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We’re currently reconnoitering and conjuring and divining our annual Best of 2014 lists for publication at year’s end.  We remain firm in our belief that publishing those lists before year-end does a disservice to those artists releasing music in December.  And truth has been borne out:  at the risk of slighting Elbow, The War On Drugs, Spoon and Sharon Van Etten, we will likely make Nicki Minaj’s just-released album our Best Album of 2014.  Sorry, just checking to see if you’re still reading.  That’s officially sarcasm, people.  It is highly unlikely that Ms. Minaj will ever receive praise on The Lefort Report.  What the world needs now is Anaconda?  Jeesh.  Sorry, got sidetracked there.

In comparison, Sharon Van Etten is one artist whose 2014 album and songs deserve to be at the very top of the Best of 2014 lists.  We don’t know of an album released this year that cut as deeply into our hearts and ears as SVE’s Are We There.  It’s her best album to date (self-produced too) and simply magnificent from stem to stern.  We love everything about it, including how perfectly it soundtracked a memorable train-ride across France last summer.

One of the more difficult tasks ahead of us is attempting to pick amongst all the deserving songs on Are We There for our Best Songs of 2014 list.  Amongst the possibles are Afraid of Nothing and Tarifa.  Both songs are wee-small-hours evocative and weighty in their separate ways, and the recorded versions are unassailable.  Thanks to KDHX we now have stunningly-great, unplugged performances of the two songs, which you can watch below.  We had not heard Van Etten perform unplugged recently and were (once again) taken aback by her stirring and incisive tremolo-falsetto (especially on Afraid of Nothing).  No vocoder.  No adornment.  No anaconda.  Just art distilled to its essence.

Photo by Nate Burrell

15
Dec

Listen to New Modest Mouse Song “Lampshades on Fire” From Impending New Album

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There have been some obvious voids in the music world that are now being filled.  First was Jamie T.’s outstanding comeback (Carry On The Grudge) after a four-year hiatus.  We now have news that Modest Mouse will release their first album since 2007 when they release Strangers to Ourselves on March 3rd (via Epic Records).

Today Modest Mouse released the first single from the new album, Lampshades on Fire.  You can check it out below.  Speaking of Jamie T., while Lampshades on Fire harkens back to great Modest Mouse songs of yore, we hadn’t previously drawn the (now-obvious) comparison to Jamie T., but we hear it in spades on Lampshades on Fire.

Come to think of it, a tour in 2015 combining Modest Mouse and Jamie T. would be a fantastic gift to the music world, and would garner Jamie T. some much-needed, much-deserved attention in the United States.  What say you fellas?  Lampshades on Fire is on sale now at the usual outlets.

Lampshades on Fire will be made available as an instant download to those who pre-order Strangers to Ourselves on iTunes or Amazon.

 

14
Dec

On Sunday: Watch Luluc’s Soothing “Small Window” Video

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You may be leaving for an airport soon.  This Sunday or another day soon.  To help put matters in perspective, check out Aussie/Brooklyn duo Luluc’s song/video Small Window below.  Luluc (Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett) has been picking up Best of 2014 accolades from around the globe for its Aaron Dessner-produced album Passerby (on SubPop) and the songs thereon, and not least for Small Window (lyrics at very bottom).  Check it out below in all its melancholy, pastoral beauty.   Comparisons to the underrated Kate Wolf are not incorrect, along with Iron & Wine (an original SubPop find), Hem and Claudia Schmidt.  We love Dessner’s (standard) deft production on the album (check out the horns on Tangled Heart below).

If you don’t trust us, none other than The National’s Matt Berninger is quoted as saying: “I’ve played Passerby on repeat; for months it was the only album I wanted to listen to.”

After Small Windows check out the recently released official video for song Tangled Heart followed by their Tiny Desk Concert on NPR.

Small Window:

“Flying over Chicago, bare trees lie in the white snow
Daylight fades and lines of cars flash
Across the night in red and gold
What a view from my small window
What a view from my small window

On the way another new home
Looking out on the streets I’ve come to know
And different faces but they’ll remind me of
Those I love far from here

Gristle water in a blue dream
Stretching further than I can see
I try and try to swim all the way
But must learn to use my body well
You wake me with your gentle caring voice
For all I long or found, oh, I rejoice”

13
Dec

Watch Iceage’s Official Video for “The Lord’s Favorite”

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This year Danish band Iceage released their third album, the critically-acclaimed, Plowing Into The Field Of Love.  Our favorite song from the album is The Lord’s Favorite.  Check out the great song and unsettling video below.  The song’s lyrics follow.  We’ll have more about these Danes later.

“One hundred year old [Euro] wine;
I do believe in heaven and I do believe it’s time.”

Indeed.

The Lord’s Favorite:

“You are probably the only one, though it is hard to admit
That can save me
And I never liked to ask for a helping hand
But I do now

I look into your eyes
This hard, bewildered stare
Part of me wants to hurt you
Tear in your hair
But I don’t do that now

A naive, open wounded exchange of stories that transforms us
Here
But I think I am the only one breathing on this planet
Tonight

The cheap sweat smothered makeup
Makes her face look as if dissolving
Yet full of grace
Here in the darkness now

One hundred year old wine
I do believe in heaven and I do believe its time
Yes its time now
Five inch white high heels
I do believe in heaven and I do believe its real
And its okay now

Vast scarlet leisure
Immense blood pressure
Scatterbrained love lecture
Come here and be gorgeous for me now

After all I think it’s evident that I am god’s favorite one
And now is the time I should have whatever I desire

I look into your eyes
Staring back at mine
Part of me wants to hurt you
Tear in your hair
But I don’t do that now

One hundred year old wine
I do believe in heaven and I do believe its time
Faceless company
It don’t matter much to me
Five inch white high heels
I do believe in heaven and I do believe its real
Dreamlike mirage haze
I’m positively god’s favorite one

Favorite one
Favorite one
Favorite one
I do believe I’m the lord’s favorite one”

12
Dec

Listen to Strand Of Oaks Pay Perfect Homage to Jason Molina on “JM”

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The world lost one its best (soul-baring) artists this year when the great songwriter Jason Molina went AWOL-into-the-next-world.  Thankfully, many continue to carry the torch for Molina and all of his various fronts (Songs: Ohia; Magnolia Electric Co.).  Included in this worthwhile effort are his label Secretly Canadian, but also the Avett Brothers and a murder of others.  Most recently, Secretly Canadian released the superb Deluxe Edition of Didn’t It Rain.  If you don’t own it, then Merry Christmas to yourself.

Adding to the host of homilies for Molina, Strand of Oaks also paid perfect homage to Molina this year with the song JM off of their 2014 album Heal.  We love everything about it, including the lyrics and the Neil Young/Built to Spill guitar razing.

We’ll admit to being somewhat ambivalent about Strand of Oaks (Tim Showalter) until recently.  But with the album Heal and a recent stream of captivating cover song releases, we’ve been completely won over by the artist.  You can go HERE to read the back-story on Heal, but as the Jamaicans say: “Dem dat knows it feels it.”  And with Heal, we all definitely feel it.  Without getting too maudlin and specific, when we listen to Heal (and, specifically, JM) it’s as if the words were written on our souls.  Lived through this and that, and out the other end.  Oh that it were so for JM.  The crow has in fact lost its wings.

Check JM out below (the song’s lyrics follow the song), and while you’re at it, go HERE to see our post about and listen again to one of our favorite re-releases of the year in Molina’s Journey On: Singles Collected, including the sweetest of songs, Soul.  Desolation row has never sounded so good.  Hammer down, heaven bound, dearly departed.

JM:

“I was an Indiana kid, getting no one in my bed I had your sweet tunes to play I was staring at the map, feeling fire in my head I had your sweet tunes to play I was mean to my dad, cause I was mean to myself I had your sweet tunes to play Stealing smokes in my car, with the window way down I had your sweet tunes to play Your sweet tunes to play I was sitting in the bath, cleaning off the ash I had your sweet tunes to play And I hated all my friends, and wouldn’t let them in I had your sweet tunes to play On a long desert train, with a knife in my bag I had your sweet tunes to play Under the Market Street Bridge, burning one in my hand I had your sweet tunes to play Your sweet tunes to play Now its hard to hear you sing, the crow has lost his wings I got your sweet tunes to play I’m getting older everyday, still living the same mistakes I got your sweet tunes to play Either get out or stay in, I won’t let these dark times win We got your sweet tunes to play Your sweet tunes to play.”

11
Dec

Check out Adult Jazz’s “Springful” and Shabazz Palace’s Remix

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We’ll be honest (for once). We had unfortunately forgotten about Adult Jazz.  No, not that Kenny G sleep-inducing musical-pablum.  No, we refer to the Leeds’ band of smarty-pants-lads by that name, and their debut album, Gist Is.  Our lamenesia was overcome recently by the band’s appearances on many Best of 2014 lists.  Their complex, atmosphere-laden album is filled with lofty topics ranging from religion to lust.  Sonically the band is full of fits and starts, and falls somewhere between Alt-J, Dirty Projectors and Noah and the Whale.  Not a bad place to be in our books.  To get a feel for the band, check out their official video for one of our favorite tracks off theirs, Springful, along with Shabazz Palace’s inventive, otherworldly remix thereof.