We had been looking for an excuse to again sing the praises of the up-and-coming Phoebe Bridgers’ stunning new song Smoke Signals. We found the song in early January and listened to it on repeat for weeks thereafter. Which might explain why we overlooked Bridgers’ subsequent release of the song’s official video (with lyrics). With that perfect excuse, please listen to our Favorite Song of 2017 (so far) by watching the video below. The phenomenal craft exhibited in the song belies Bridgers’ youthfulness (she’s 22-ish) and bodes incredibly well for her future. We can’t wait to listen to her grow.
Listen to Collaborative Song By Walter Martin (The Walkmen) With Matt Berninger (The National) Off Martin’s Upcoming New Album
As many Wall Street tycoons and other rapscallion scions have discovered, sometimes it pays for enterprises to spin off their assets. Such is definitely the case with the much-vaunted musical enterprise The Walkmen. Since The Walkmen went on hiatus a few years back, the band’s singer Hamilton Leithauser has released three critically-acclaimed albums (the most recent with Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend, entitled I Had A Dream That You Were Mine).
Speaking of The Walkmen and three solo albums, another stalwart member/songwriter of the band, Walter Martin, released a much-loved children’s album, We’re All Young Together, in 2014. Following We’re All Young Together, Martin released another critically-hailed solo album, Arts & Leisure in 2015. And now comes the matching third album. Martin will release in May (on Cinco de Mayo) another children’s record entitled My Kinda Music. In a press release regarding the new album, Martin said: “I’ll never forget being a kid listening to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days on long family car trips. I’d be lying in the nauseating back seat of our minivan transfixed by the warmth and humor of his stories. And up in the front my parents would be experiencing the exact same thing. My goal with this album is to induce that same kind of wonderful family hypnosis.”
To give a feel, Martin has just released a single from the upcoming album entitled Hey Matt, which features the busy, ever-surprising Matt Berninger of The National. On the song Berninger provides tongue-in-cheek singing coaching to Martin: “And Walt, don’t waste your time, singing about love and lonely nights, ‘cause no one’s gonna pay a dime, or stand in line to hear you whine.” Later in the song, Martin takes Berninger down a notch by revealing that his first choice to duet on the song was Randy Newman, who did not respond to Martin’s inquiry. More’s the better as Berninger nails it with panache. Check the cut out below in all its upbeat, breezy and tutorial glory. We love it. Viva la Walkmen spin-offs!
The big Spoon is back with their second track from their impending new album, Hot Thoughts, (out March 17th on Matador). Following on the heels of last month’s title track Hot Thoughts, the band is back with the banging Can I Sit Next to You (in the form of its official video below). We haven’t been able to parse the visuals yet, but the song is classic Spoon with its flagrant guitar-attack augmented with rousing, Radiohead-y synths/strings that would not seem out of place on a 007 film soundtrack. They have also announced some new tour dates (including March 6th at the Observatory in Santa Ana), which you can see at bottom. Get tickets HERE.
The band’s press release points out that: “If the new Spoon single ‘Can I Sit Next to You’ feels eerily familiar, like something that’s been playing in the background of your life for the last few months, there’s actually a good chance it has: For the last few months, a campaign of subliminal placements of ‘Can I Sit Next to You’ has seen the unreleased, unidentifiable track being played at various clubs and venues, as American Airlines boarding music, even by the house bands of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
02-27 London, England – 100 Club
03-06 Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
03-14-16 Austin, TX – The Main (SXSW Residency)
03-23 Sydney, Australia – Metro Theatre
03-25 Thornbury, Australia – The Croxton Bandroom
04-27 Mobile, AL – Soul Kitchen
04-28 Oxford, MS – The Lyric
04-29 Baton Rouge, LA – Varsity Theatre
05-01 Tampa, FL – The Ritz Ybor
05-02 Lake Buena Vista, FL – House of Blues
05-03 Athens, GA – Georgia theater
05-05 Charleston, SC – Music Farm
05-07 Raleigh, NC – The Ritz
05-09 Knoxville, TN – The Mill & Mine
05-11 Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
06-17 Berlin, Germany – Festaal Kreuzberg
06-18 Mannheim, Germany – Maifeld Derby Festival
06-19 Munich, Germany – Technikum
06-27 Manchester, England – Gorilla
06-28 Glasgow, Scotland – The Arts School
06-30 London, England – O2 Forum
07-07 Madrid, Spain – Mad Cool Festival
07-08 Lisbon, Portugal – NOS Alive
07-14 Louisville, KY – Forecastle Festival
07-15 Birmingham, AL – Sloss Festival
07-28 New York, NY – Panorama Festival
07-30 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
08-06 Hollywood, CA – Hollywood Bowl
08-08 Aspen, CO – Belly Up Aspen
08-09 Bellvue, CO – Mishawaka Amphitheatre
Ryan Adams is in the middle of a major resurgence. Fresh off of a hugely successful tour last year, Adams is back with a riveting new album entitled Prisoner. Last night Adams and band showed up on The Tonight Show to play the lead single from the new album, Do You Still Love Me? Watch below as Adams and mates soundly nailed the song, with a slicing guitar attack (but with lots of tasteful space within). Afterwards, watch as Adams also lit up new song To Be Without You (with its Allman Brothers-esque duel-guitars). Adams has just announced his impending world tour, with new North American dates featuring Jennie Lewis (including Santa Barbara’s Granada Theater on June 1st). Check out the tour dates and get tickets HERE. Lewis has recently been recording new songs with Adams so there’s bound to be some great cross-pollination during the tour.
We recently unearthed Australia’s Middle Kids. Yep, we’re a little slow ’round here. Last night they sped up their American exposure by making their American TV debut on Conan, performing their scintillating song, Edge of Town. Check out their riveting performance below. We love the band’s effervescent energy and Hannah Joy’s evocative vocals and delivery! The band has also released a new eponymously-entitled EP that’s riddled with brawn and craft, and which you can listen to below.
They play the Barboza in Seattle on February 21st (next Tuesday) and The Echo on February 25th, and we still can’t wait! Check out their American dates and get tickets HERE.
The Middle Kids EP is out Feb. 17th on Domino. You can pre-order it HERE.
We have been powerfully Paaked in the past year. Dot Paak, that is. Anderson .Paak has taken the music world by storm this past year, earning fans, accolades, Grammy nominations, and NBA All-Star pals along the way. Now .Paak is back to release a new gospel-ized rendition of his hit Come Down entitled In The Come Down Gospel. Check out the video below, which features friends and family (sister Camille and son Soul) from .Paak’s hometown of Oxnard.
Listen To (the Demo of) Our No. 1 Best Song of 2016–“Finally” By Cymbals Eat Guitars–And Donate For a Good Cause
We’ve been waiting for a good opportunity (video release, eh lads?) to sing the praises of our No. 1 Best Song of 2016, Finally, by the ridiculously underrated and underappreciated Cymbals Eat Guitars. Today the band has provided that golden opportunity by releasing the demo of Finally on Bandcamp. The demo is part of Bandcamp’s campaign to donate proceeds from today’s purchases on Bandcamp to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The band will be donating proceeds to The Urban Justice Center.
Here is CEG’s statement about this effort:
“Bandcamp has announced that today, Friday, Feb 3, they will be donating 100% of their proceeds from sales to the ACLU, an organization that is more important and in need of support than ever before. For our part, we’re offering the demo version of our song “Finally” as a Bandcamp exclusive, and we’ll be donating 100% of our proceeds from the track to The Urban Justice Center, another crucially important organization on the front lines of protecting New York City’s most vulnerable residents. Please consider buying this track…it’s pay-what-you-want, and no amount is insignificant. Love, CEG”
Finally is a love song for the ages and immediately jumped us as the opening track of their sensational 2016 album Pretty Years (our No. 2 Best Album of 2016–list soon come). Comparing the two fascinating versions of the song below (first the demo and then the recorded version), you can hear the upside of John Congleton’s impeccable production (which is borne out throughout Pretty Years). While the demo adds contextual weight and thrash to the proceedings. the album version’s skyscraper sound lifts and brandishes well the song’s awe-inspiring crests and falls (see lyrics at bottom).
In addition to their incredibly well-crafted recordings, Cymbals Eat Guitars is simply en fuego live. We could not believe that gifted singer Joseph D’Agostino and the band could nail Finally so perfectly live, but they did so and with added passion and panache when we caught their fantastic show at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco last October. To see for yourself, the band is headed out on tour in Europe soon, followed by a leg opening for The Pixies. You can check the dates HERE.
Their incredible album Pretty Years is out now on Sinderlyn.
Above photo: Shervin Lainez
“Let in the empty wind
Full of holes
I’m an instrument
If this is infinite
The center is everything
Dilated and smiling
See lives from the outside
Snow is falling again
A pretty painted house
In a shitty part of town
You settle down
Used to light up a room
Then again maybe that ain’t true
Wanna light up the night
Refineries and Christmas lights
My love is a mantra
When I speak it, it weakens
I’ll just squeeze your hand three times
If it’s infinite repeats
I’ll take the blizzard of ’16
I’m ready now
Try to take it all with me
But we forget finally”
Talented Brit singer-songwriter Sampha today released his official video for his touching ballad (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano. The song is an homage to his mother, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and (sadly) recently passed. In the interim, Sampha moved in with his mother and took care of her. He also returned to the piano of his youth and crafted this beauty. He sings the hell out of this song. Watch the well-crafted video, by director Jamie-James Medina, below. Afterwards watch a superb recent live performance of the song on The Tonight Show.
Sampha will release his highly-anticipated album Process this Friday, and you can pre-order it HERE.
Photos by Norm Popp
Oft-times the world sorts itself out. But sometimes the world makes no sense. These are those times. Adding to our confusion, vaunted singer-songwriter John K. Samson (with The Winter Wheat) left his beloved Winnipeg to be one of three (!) bands opening (!) for Brit Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls Saturday night at The Wiltern in LA. While Turner is an infectious live performer (see photos at bottom), a particular strength of his is his good taste in other musical artists. Turner has repeatedly touted Samson (and his much-praised/beloved band The Weakerthans) to his ardent fans. And Turner also managed to coerce the seemingly-recalcitrant Samson to make a rare visit to California as Turner’s tour-opener. And for that alone we say: thank God for Frank Turner! Samson hadn’t played in California since we caught The Weakerthans’ swan-song tour in July 2009, so whatever it takes to flush the multi-talented Samson out of Manitoba for a California gig is fine by us.
On Saturday the Wiltern crowd quickly warmed to Samson & The Winter Wheat (consisting of Samson’s talented wife Christine Fellows on keys/vocals/uke/melodica and former Weakerthaners Greg Smith on bass and Jason Tait on drums/melodica). Long-time fans of the songwriters’-songwriter mixed with young fans (culled, largely, by Turner) and sang every word as Samson and band soundly impressed (as always). Their set featured a fantastic mix of songs from last year’s solo album Winter Wheat (in part an homage to Neil Young’s seminal On The Beach and our No. 1 Best Album of 2016) and older, but forever-affecting, Weakerthans’ songs. For the uninitiated, Samson is easily one of, if not the best lyricists and songwriters of this generation, and he always conveys soulfulness live.
Samson opened with his wistful, yet encouraging, hymn-for-this-era, Select All Delete, featuring Fellows’ mournful piano and train-whistle vocal. The more up-tempo (but not necessarily upbeat) Weakerthans’ song Sun In An Empty Room followed, enabling bassist Smith and deftly-adroit drummer Tait to better exhibit their fine skills. Before launching into the rallying Post Doc Blues (“recommit yourself to the healing of the world”), Samson acknowledged the current political climate and admonished the crowd to “resist” and to “remember, no one is ever illegal.” The Weakerthans’ rollicking New Name For Everything followed (“Stand with your hands in your pockets and stare, at the smudge on a newspaper sky, and ask it to rain a new name for everything”). Samson then mockingly boasted that the next song (Alpha Adept, one of our favorites off Winter Wheat) would feature “my big guitar solo.” And so it did, while Smith’s bass sang sweetly along with the crowd, and especially on one of the best stanzas of any year:
“All I can say is I’m excited
All I can do is let you know
You are the one I wanna be with
When they return to claim the Earth
For a planet near Orion’s belt
Where everyone is happier and tall
And they sing a billion stories with their minds
While flying all around the sky”
Samson then dedicated the raging Vampire Alberta Blues (off of Winter Wheat and an update/tribute to Neil Young’s anti-oil-industry anthem Vampire Blues) to “all the people of Standing Rock,” giving the performance added gravitas. The Weakerthans’ deeper-cuts Bigfoot (which always reminds of Paul Simon), and the punk-ish Aside and Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist followed, receiving rapturous support from the crowd. Winter Wheat’s beautiful, plaintive Requests followed, featuring Tait on melodica. Samson then unleashed the Weakerthan’s poetry-cloaked-in-punk masterpiece Plea From a Cat Named Virtute (songwriters: if you need an example of well-crafted lyrics, here’s Lesson One). With only time for one last song, Samson appropriately closed with the sanguine Winter Wheat, with both Fellows and Tait joining in on melodica.
And in that moment, the “world was good enough.”
We only hope that our world will be bettered by Samson returning to California soon for a headlining tour. To catch him live, go HERE for the current tour dates.
Today Lefort-faves Elbow released a new video for temperate new song Gentle Storm in advance of next week’s release of new album Little Fictions. The band has previously graced us with beauties Magnificent (She Says) and All Disco. The new video is an homage to Godley And Creme’s (10cc) 1985 video for their song Cry (which you can view after Gentle Storm). Elbow leader Guy Garvey had this to say about the video, which features, among others, Benedict Cumberbatch, Garvey’s wife Allison Stirling, and the rest of Elbow’s fine members):
“‘Gentle Storm’ reminded me of something but I couldn’t work it out for a bit, the yearning and the sparsity of the sound. When I worked out it was ‘Cry’ I asked the rest of the band if they remembered the video ‘cos it was such a seismic event as a kid. Pete and Mark did but Craig didn’t and I realized that a lot of people wouldn’t know the track or the video even though they were BOTH so important to me. So Kevin Godley is a Prestwich boy and so am I so I thought ‘I’ll be a cheeky bastard and get in touch with him and see if he is up for doing it again for our track.’ It was amazing that he was up for it. We got a load of our friends and family involved so they ALSO are in it. The shoot day was incredible, video shoots can be quite grim but it was such a great atmosphere that Kevin created and the finished film is something we are amazingly proud to be involved with.
And director Kevin Godley had this to say:
“When Guy Garvey called me and said: ‘Would you consider recreating the ‘Cry’ video for our new song ‘Gentle Storm’ I was a bit puzzled. Why would he want something that was already out there? Then I realised… ‘out there’ really meant out there since 1985 and a whole generation or three wouldn’t have seen the original, or have a clue who Godley & Creme were, so to a world of millennials it would probably be ‘who the fuck?’ I didn’t really have to direct anyone – they all became suitably themselves as soon as the camera rolled. Everything felt real, nothing felt forced and there were no fuck ups, no tantrums and no 35mm gates to check as we shot on 4K res digital video. In fact the only difference between this shoot and Cry was the major technological advance of steadying people’s heads with a sink plunger instead of a saucepan.”
Check it out below. Oh, and it’s a spare, very cool song to boot (lyrics at bottom).
You can pre-order Little Fictions HERE.
“I will fly swift and true straight to you, like an arrow
Just to be where you lie
Meet my quest, do my shambling best to be near you
Where you lie
I’ve found peace in your arms
Rage my way
Fall in love with me
Fall in love with me
Fall in love with me
Counting down, now the clocks reset when I met you
Do we start a new life?
Yours and my spit-shone restless hearts, they were meant to
Beat one time, share one fate
From this day
And fall in love with me
Fall in love with me
Fall in love with me