19
Jan

Great News: The Decemberists Release New Song “Severed” From Impending New Album–Playing Santa Barbara For First Time Ever

Long-time Lefort-faves The Decemberists are back with new song Severed from their impending new album I’ll Be Your Girl to be released on March 16th on Capitol Records. Just as exciting, the band announced that they will be touring and playing the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara, their first ever visit to these environs. You can check out their tour dates and get tickets HERE.

According to the band’s press release, the band sought to mix it up and reach for something beyond their (phenomenal) standard textures on I’ll Be Your Girl:

“We recorded the eleven-ish songs during the early fall in Portland, Oregon, with noted producer and ailurophile John Congleton. You perhaps may be familiar with some of the work he’s done with such bands as St. Vincent, Lana del Rey, Wye Oak, Angel Olsen, Swans — oh, everybody, really. He’s a bit of a goer, production-wise. The songs tend to the darker, more absurdist side of things —  I mean, how can you blame us — and features a lot of nice vintage synth work by Jenny and Chris, some heavy drumming from Mr. Moen and, of course, the sort of baroque bass work you’ve come to expect from the former Mr. Lincoln High, Nate Query. All in all, everyone acquitted themselves quite nicely.”

Evidently, while working on the new material, the band discussed additional musical influences, such as Roxy Music and early glam music, and Meloy has described the album’s mood as “exuberant nihilism” to reflect these times.

Watch the Severed video below. The song is a sound update of The Decemberists’ musical motifs, with added analog-synth lead a la New Order or Depeche Mode, with autocratic, POTUS-inspired lyrics and heavenly harmonies. It’s a beauty that bodes incredibly well for the new album.

You can pre-order I’ll Be Your Girl HERE.  Severed’s lyrics are at bottom.

Severed:

“I alight like a whisper
I alight with the lights out
And it won’t take me long just to find you
And it won’t take me long just to find you

I’m allied to the winter
But don’t you get clever
Don’t you get clever
I’m allied to the landslide
Gonna leave you all severed
Gonna leave you all severed

I alone am the answer
I alone will make wrongs right
But in order to root out the cancer
It’s got to be kept from the sight

I’m allied to the winter
But don’t you get clever
Don’t you get clever
I’m allied to the landslide
Gonna leave you all severed
Gonna leave you all severed

I was born in a whiteout
Gonna smother you all till I choke you
Gonna smother you all till you kick out

I’m allied to the winter
But don’t you get clever
Don’t you get clever
I’m allied to the landslide
Gonna leave you all severed
Gonna leave you all severed”

18
Jan

Santa Barbara Soundtrack: Check Out “Six Wave Hold-Down” by Hot Snakes

Smoke. Fire. Flu. 1000-Year Flood. Isolation. Economic Crisis.  It’s felt like a six wave hold-down ’round the South Coast, and there is grief and anger to match. At least that’s we hear in the new song of the same name by the re-formed garage-punk band Hot Snakes (out of San Diego; former Drive Like Jehu members). Check it out below in all its fiery glory.

The band will release its new album, Jericho Sirens (its first in 14 years) on Sub Pop on March 16th. Based on the energy and verve on this captivating new song, we’re all ears.

Sub Pop will also reissue Hot Snakes’ first three albums, Automatic Midnight, Suicide Invoice and Audit in Progress, tomorrow (1/19). Hot Snakes are also heading out on tour, and all dates can be seen HERE.

“Six wave hold-down!”

May it relent.

12
Jan

David Byrne Remains Cheerful and Releases New Song “Everybody’s Coming To My House” From New Album

Where have all the hours gone? Gone to smoke, fire-storms, flu, a new year, flash-floods and mudslides everyone. When will we ever learn?

Weeks have fallen to a fire and flu haze, but we’re making our way back.

David Byrne is a renewed and renewing inspiration. Ever since we first saw Byrne and the Talking Heads in that 200-person space in San Diego in 1978 (and every tour thereafter), we’ve drawn great inspiration from the artistry, entertainment, philosophy and humanity of David Byrne. Whether it’s his music, his bicycle infatuation, his art, his philosophy or a thousand other reasons, we’ve continued to be drawn to Byrne and his offerings. He’s never stopped making sense.

Despite (or because of) the political and cultural turmoil of late, and this life during wartime, Byrne has remained in the light and has been giving presentations entitled Reasons To Be Cheerful, about which Byrne has said:

“I began to look for encouraging things that are happening anywhere, and if they have been tested, if they have been proven to work, if they can be transferred and adopted in other places, if they can scale up—then let’s hold them up for consideration, and let’s invite others to add to this project. There are actually a LOT of encouraging things going on around the world—they’ve given me hope, and I’d like to share them.” We’re on the road to somewhere.

Continuing in this motif, Byrne has now announced his impending new album entitled American Utopia, which is his first solo album in 14 years. To introduce the album, Byrne has given us a video for the album’s first song, Everybody’s Coming to My House. The song was written with Byrne’s foremost collaborator Brian Eno and features the up-and-coming Sampha, TTY and Happa Isaiah Barr from Onyx Collective.

Check it out below in all its polyrhythmic glow and recognizable Byrne patter and epiphanies. It’s the Song of the Year so far.

Byrne said of American Utopia in a statement, “These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather attempt to depict the world we live in now. Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with that world—the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves—well, does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking. This album is indirectly about those aspirational impulses. Sometimes to describe is to reveal, to see other possibilities. To ask a question is to begin the process of looking for an answer. To be descriptive is also to be prescriptive, in a way. The act of asking is a big step. The songs are sincere—the title is not ironic. The title refers not to a specific utopia, but rather to our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, and hopes regarding what could be possible, what else is possible. The description, the discontent and the desire—I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.”

We can’t wait for American Utopia, which is out March 9th on Nonesuch Records. You can pre-order it HERE.

The album’s tracklist and the song’s lyrics are found below the video:

American Utopia tracklist:

1. “American Utopia”
2. “I Dance Like This”
3. “Gasoline And Dirty Sheets”
4. “Every Day Is A Miracle”
5. “Dog’s Mind”
6. “This Is That”
7. “It’s Not Dark Up Here”
8. “Bullet”
9. “Doing The Right Thing”
10. “Everybody’s Coming To My House”
11. “Here”

Everybody’s Coming To My House:

I wish I was a camera
I wish I was a postcard
I welcome you to my house
You didn’t have to go far
A house and a garden
There are, there’s plants and trees
Make a, a closer inspection
If you get, get down on your knees

Now everybody’s coming to my house
And I’m never gonna  be alone
And everybody’s coming to my house
And they’re never gonna go back home

I’m pointing and describing
And I can be your guide
The skin is just a roadmap
The view is very nice
Imagine looking at a picture
Imagine driving in a car
Imagine rolling down the window
Imagine opening the door

Everybody’s coming to my house
Everybody’s coming to my house
I’m never gonna be alone
And they’re never gonna go back home

We’re only tourists in this life
Only tourists but the view is nice
And we’re never gonna go back home
No we’re never gonna go back home (all right)
We’re only tourists in this life
Only tourists but the view is nice

Now everybody’s coming to my house
And I’m never gonna be alone
And everybody’s coming to my house
And they’re never gonna go back home

Everybody’s coming to my house
Everybody’s coming to my house
I’m never gonna be alone
And I’m never gonna go back home

15
Dec

For Hamilton Fans: Listen to The Decemberists Perform “Ben Franklin’s Song” By Lin-Manuel Miranda/Colin Meloy

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For the insatiable fans of Hamilton and The Decemberists (and they are legion), Lin-Manuel Miranda and The Decemberists have today announced The Decemberists’ opening salvo, Ben Franklin’s Song, for The Hamildrops. The Hamildrops will consist of new Hamilton content being released every month from now until December 2018.

The Decemberists explain the project thus:

“Well, it happens that Mr. [Lin-Manuel] Miranda reached out to our own Colin Meloy to put music to a set of lyrics that had been written for HAMILTON but had never been used: a first-person introduction to one of the US’s founding fathers, Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Lin said that he’d wanted to include Franklin as a character in the show initially, but it just never quite worked — something about not wanting to remove the audience more than once from the action taking place in our nascent United States. Funnily enough, he said he’d imagined Franklin singing in a sort of Decemberist-y way, whatever that means. FAST FORWARD TO 2016: Lin passed on the lyrics to Colin, who was very much up to the task, and a new song was born: BEN FRANKLIN’S SONG, to be exact. We really like it. It’s very swear-y, but there’s a clean version too.

We hope you like it. It was a lot of fun to write and record. If you’re a HAMILTON fan, we hope it will add a new dimension to the world of the show for you — but you can also just enjoy it as a history lesson. Franklin invented bifocals, you know. And the glass harmonica. WHAT A F***ING GUY.

Yours,
The Decemberists”

Listen below (to the “clean” version) on Spotify or pick your poison HERE. Once again, The Decemberists have acquitted themselves beautifully with Ben Franklin’s Song. The melody and playing are quintessential Decemberists. Miranda’s intelligent, oft-hilarious lyrics are at bottom.

“Electricity
Yeah, you can all thank me
Took some lightning, a kite, and a fat brass key
And they’re putting up streetlights in Gay Paris
You’re welcome from our young nation

I’m the only American the French wanna see
They call me a genius, I can’t disagree
They have guns, they have funds
They can set us free
Invest in my reputation

And do you know who the f I am?
Yeah, do you know who the f I am?
Do you know who the f I am?
I am Poor-Richard’s-Almanack-writing Benjamin Effing Franklin

I said, early to bed, boys, early to rise
They make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise
Soldiers are fighting for freedom, they have no supplies
So diplomacy happens at night

John debates at the gates of Versailles
He whines and parades and awaits a reply
As I stay up late with a succulent breast or a thigh
Alright, diplomacy happens at night

And do you know who the f I am?
Yeah, do you know who the f I am?
Do you know who the f I am?
I am 76-and-I’ll-Still-Kick-Your-Ass Effing Franklin

One pain that lingers, the hitch in my stride
Is my son back at home who I could not guide
Who sits all alone in a prison cell on the wrong side
Stands against our young nation

So I play my ambassador part with pride
I am known in the world, and the world is wide
To my children, my sins may be magnified, but I’d
Do it all again, no hesitation

And do you know who the f I am?
Yeah, do you know who the f I am?
Do you know who the f I am?
I am Poor-Richard’s-Almanack-writing Benjamin Effing Franklin

(Do you know who the f I am?) Who the f I am?
(Do you know who the f I am?) Who the f I am?
(Do you know who the f I am?)
I am Poor-Richard’s-Almanack-writing
Polymath, bifocal-wearing
Hardened glass-harmonica-playing
Benjamin Effing Franklin”

14
Dec

Listen to S. Carey’s Seasonal Ode “Still, Still, Still.”

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Bon Iver’s uber-talented S. Carey has provided calming musical balm for the senses over the last few months. Last month Carey provided the guiltlessly-gilded song Fools Gold, from his impending new album Hundred Acres. Before that Carey provided the beguilingly-beautiful song Brassy Sun. Now comes Carey to provide the heavenly harmonies of holiday song Still, Still, Still. Enjoy this beauty below. And give thanks for guardian angels.

About Still, Still, Still, Carey gifts the following:

“Wishing everyone a peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful holiday season! I covered this obscure Austrian Xmas carol, one of my favorites! Enjoy.”

14
Dec

Watch The National’s “Dark Side of the Gym” Video and Performance of “Day I Die” on Ellen

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While we’ve been preoccupied with wildfires and smoke-avoidance, The National released a romance-dance video for their Dark Side of the Gym love song. NYC Ballet Resident Choreographer Justin Peck directed, choreographed and is featured in the video, together with Patricia Delgado.

In the interim the band also showed up on Ellen to perform their great song Day I Die. Check out both below.

The National continues out on tour in support of their Best Album of 2017 contender Sleep Well Beast.

11
Dec

Watch Phoebe Bridgers’ Video For Salient Song “Would You Rather” Featuring Conor Oberst

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In a year brimming with bright musical birthings, Phoebe Bridgers keeps brandishing briefs on her behalf for the top berth. First came Smoke Signals, and then came Motion Sickness. Then she regaled with a stellar Tiny Desk Concert. Now comes another superb song from her debut album, Stranger In The Alps.  Check out the new song Would You Rather features fire-centric lyrics apropos for recent days in California (“Playing would you rather, when it comes to fire…the cop suggested you’re the one who tried to burn it down”). Check out the song below in video context. Both feature the distinctive and talented Conor Oberst. Bridgers’ ever-worthwhile lyrics are at bottom.

Would You Rather:

“Playing would you rather
When it comes to fire
You always say that you’d prefer to drown

You were still in the ambulance
When the cop suggested
You’re the one who tried to burn it down

Come to find out
I’m a can on a string, you’re on the end
We find our way out
Of a suicide pact of our family and friends
In the background I’ll be waiting

We have the same face
I laid awake
As someone shoved you up against a wall

Quarantined in a bad dream
He’s half the man
And you’re twice as tall

I’m a can on a string, you’re on the end
We find our way out
Of a suicide pact of our family and friends
In the background I’ll be waiting

Next time I see you you’ll show me
A hundred different ways to say the same things

Come to find out
I’m a can on a string, you’re on the end
We find our way out
Of a suicide pact of our family and friends
And when you touch down I’ll be waving”

6
Dec

Check Out Sufjan Stevens’ Affecting New Song Paying Tribute to “Tonya Harding”

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Sufjan Stevens has today released his beautiful new song Tonya Harding in tribute to the scandalous and scandalized figure skater (true confession: we were Nancy Kerrigan fans). This isn’t the first time Stevens has paid homage to alleged deplorables in the past, but Harding is no John Wayne Gacy (as you can read in the essay below). In fact, it’s been quite a year for Harding who is also the subject of new biopic film I, Tonya (with actress Margot Robbie being touted for an Oscar as Harding). Stevens explains his motivation and take on Harding in an essay released by Stevens with the song, as follows:

“I’ve been trying to write a Tonya Harding song since I first saw her skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1991. She’s a complicated subject for a song partly because the hard facts of her life are so strange, disputable, heroic, unprecedented, and indelibly American. She was one of the greatest figure skaters of her time, and the first American woman to perform a triple axle in an international competition. She was an unlikely skating star, having been raised working class in Portland, Oregon. Being a poor outsider, her rise to fame in the skating rink was seen, by some, as a blemish on a sport that favored sophistication and style. Tonya’s skating technique was feisty, fierce, and full of athleticism, and her flamboyant outfits were often handmade by her mother (who was abusive and overbearing). (They couldn’t afford Vera Wang.) And then there was the Nancy Kerrigan incident. In January 1994, Tonya’s then-boyfriend Jeff Gillooly hired an assailant, Shane Stant, to break fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan’s leg at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Cobo Arena in Detroit, so that she would be unable to compete at the upcoming Winter Olympics. The aftermath of the attack was recorded on camera and ultimately set off a media frenzy (and an FBI investigation). Gillooly and Stan were eventually found guilty, and Tonya pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution, and was subsequently banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Nancy Kerrigan recovered from her injury and won a silver medal at the Winter Olympics. Tonya Harding finished eighth.

But that’s not even half the story. When Tonya and Gillooly got married, they filmed themselves having sex on their wedding night and produced one of the first-ever celebrity sex tapes (which they sold to Penthouse for $200,000 each). Tonya also had a brief career as a boxer, and is most famous for her bout with former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones (whose sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton precipitated his impeachment in 1998). Tonya was also (very briefly) in a band called the Golden Blades (they were allegedly booed off the stage during their first and only performance). She also raced vintage automobiles (setting a record by driving a Ford Model A over 97 miles per hours on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah). And in 1996 Tonya used mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive an 81-year-old woman who collapsed at a bar in Portland while playing video poker. That’s a lot to accomplish before the age of 30!

Tonya Harding’s dramatic rise and fall was fiercely followed by the media, and she very quickly became the brunt of jokes, the subject of tabloid headlines and public outcry. She was a reality TV star before such a thing even existed. But she was also simply un-categorical: American’s sweetheart with a dark twist. But I believe this is what made her so interesting, and a true American hero. In the face of outrage and defeat, Tonya bolstered shameless resolve and succeeded again and again with all manners of re-invention and self-determination. Tonya shines bright in the pantheon of American history simply because she never stopped trying her hardest. She fought classism, sexism, physical abuse, and public rebuke to become an incomparable American legend.

I admit, early drafts of this song contained more than a few puns, punch lines, and light-hearted jabs – sex tapes and celebrity boxing make for an entertaining narrative arc. But the more I edited, and the more I meditated, and the more I considered the wholeness of the person of Tonya Harding, I began to feel a conviction to write something with dignity and grace, to pull back the ridiculous tabloid fodder and take stock of the real story of this strange and magnificent America hero. At the end of the day, Tonya Harding was just an ordinary woman with extraordinary talent and a tireless work ethic who set out to do her very best. She did that and more. I hope the same can be said of us all.”

As you will hear below, the song is the usual well-crafted, well-arranged, well-produced and always affecting fare from Stevens. Stevens has recorded two versions of the song in two different keys, and you can listen to them HERE. You can see the lyrics at bottom.

Tonya Harding is out now via Asthmatic Kitty. You can get it digitally, or on cassette or vinyl HERE.

“Tonya Harding, my star
Well this world is a cold one
But it takes one to know one
And God only knows what you are

Just some Portland white trash
You confronted your sorrow
Like there was no tomorrow
While the rest of the world only laughed

Triple axel on high
A delightful disaster
You jumped farther and faster
You were always so full of surprises

Are your laces untied?
What’s the frown on your face for?
And just what are the skates for now?
Tell me which is your good side?

Are you lonely at night?
Do you miss all the glory
And the mythical story
Of the Olympian life?

Yamaguchi in red
She had high rise and roses
And red-carpet poses
And her outfit was splendid

Well she took quite a beating
So you’re not above cheating
Can you blame her for crying?

Tonya, you were the brightest
Yeah you rose from the ashes
And survived all the crashes
Wiping the blood from your white tights

Has the world had its fun?
Yeah they’ll make such a hassle
And they’ll build you a castle
Then destroy it when they’re done

Tonya Harding, my friend
Well this world is a bitch, girl
Don’t end up in a ditch, girl
I’ll be watching you close to the end

So fight on as you are
My American princess
May God bless you with incense
You’re my shining American star

Shining American star
Shining American star
Shining American star
Shining American star”

4
Dec

Check Out Spoon’s Riveting Performances on CBS This Morning and Town Hall (formerly Prairie Home Companion)

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When it’s this good there’s no need to switch horses. Starting where we left off last week, over the weekend Spoon appeared on CBS This Morning and Town Hall (the old Prairie Home Companion, sadly renamed). Below first check out the mesmerizing three songs off their Best Albums of 2017 contender Hot Thoughts and a great interview on CBS This Morning. Then go HERE to listen to Spoon perform and be interviewed at the 50:40 and 1:41 marks. This is a band at the top of their powers and heading ever-higher. Wow!

You can catch Spoon live at the Arlington Theater in SB on January 18th. Don’t ya miss it! Get tickets HERE.

1
Dec

Watch Spoon Perform on The Tonight Show and Tomorrow Morning on CBS This Morning

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As Spoon continue to make the case for their Hot Thoughts album being one of the Best Albums of 2017 and their being one of the best live bands alive, the band appeared on The Tonight Show this week and blazed through a riveting performance of their great song Do I Have To Talk You Into It off the album. To add to their welcome assault on the senses, Spoon will appear tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning and will appear on an upcoming Prairie Home Companion (or whatever they’re going to call it in a post-Keillor era). Check out their raving performance below in which Britt Daniels shows once again why he is and has been (only for 20+ years) THE quintessential rock n’ roll scion of his generation. Daniels proves it all damn night every dang time he sets foot on stage. Bravo!

Spoon is coming to the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara on January 18th. Don’t ya miss it! Tickets can still be had HERE.