29
Aug

The National Releases “Day I Die”– the 4th Song from Impending Album “Sleep Well Beast”

On September 8th long-time faves The National will release their new album Sleep Well Best on 4AD. We’ve already heard/seen the first three songs: The System Only Dreams in Total DarknessGuilty Party, and CCarin at the Liquor Store (seriously, that “dead John Cheever” bit–huh?).

Now the band has released the fourth song off the album, Day I Die, via the song’s official video. The video was directed by Casey Reas who had this to say about the video in a press release: “Graham MacIndoe captured 18 time-lapse photo series during rehearsals at Le Centquatre in June 2017 in Paris. Hours of rehearsal are compressed into a few minutes. Over 5,000 of these photographs were brought together to create the final video. I wrote custom software to collage multiple photographs together and to compile them into videos. A flickering color layer abstracted from broadcast television signals augments the black and white footage. The images are played back at 12fps, near the threshold of the persistence of vision.”

Check the video out below. Day I Die is classic The National, replete with references to “great uncle Valentine Jester,” who may or may not be someone’s re-imagined great uncle or a pseudonym therefor, and how does uncle relate to the departed daughter Val Jester who appeared on Alligator. Mere conjecture about a jester’s Jester. The song’s lyrics are at bottom.

For those wanting to get a better feel for the new songs performed live, on September 5th World Cafe and NPR Music will host a First Listen Live performance which can be streamed HERE.

The band will venture out on in September on a nearly sold-out worldwide tour. The band announced today that a “Sunday matinee” (huh? how can that be for this band who performs best in total darkness) has been added at the Greek Theater in Berkeley on October 15th.  Tickets on sale for the latter this Thursday.

You can pre-order Sleep Well Beast HERE.

Day I Die

“I don’t need you. I don’t need you.
Besides I barely ever see you anymore,
and when I do it feels like you’re only halfway there.
Young mothers love me, even ghosts of girlfriends
call from Cleveland—they will meet me
any time and anywhere.

The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?

Don’t do this, I don’t do this to you.
And don’t expect me to enjoy it.
Because I really don’t have the courage not to turn the volume up
inside my ears. For years I used to put my head inside
the speakers in the hallway
when you’d get too high and talk forever.

The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?

I get a little punchy with the vodka just like my great uncle Valentine Jester did
when he had to deal with those people like you who made no goddam common sense.
I’d rather walk all the way home right now than to spend one more second in this place.
I’m exactly like you Valentine. Just come outside and leave with me.

Let’s just get high enough to see our problems.
Let’s just get high enough to see our father’s houses.

The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?
The day I die, day I die, where will we be?”

 

28
Aug

Destroyer Discloses New Album–Watch Lyric Video for Foreboding New Song “Sky’s Grey”

in Music

Comments closed Comments

Fantastic Canadian band Destroyer has announced it will release new album ken on October 20th on Merge Records.  News of a new Destroyer album is cause enough for celebration, but the relative quickness of its release also puts to rest concern that leader (and raison d’être) Dan Bejar will be taking more and more time between each new album to set things right. Reversing a trend that has seen three and four-year gaps between albums, ken will be released a scant two years since the fantastic Poison Season alighted.

To give a feel for the new album, Destroyer has released the lyric video below for their beautiful, but foreboding new song Sky’s Grey. We will have to see about the overall tenor of the album, but Sky’s Grey can’t help but remind us of the phenomenal (and phenomenally-underappreciated-by-Americans) Brit band Prefab Sprout. To our ears Sky’s Grey is somewhat an amalgam of Prefab Sprout’s quintessential Two Wheels Good album (listen to tracks at bottom). While Destroyer’s outstanding album Kaputt seemed an homage to Steely Dan/Bryan Ferry and Poison Season seemed dedicated to Bowie/Springsteen, Sky’s Grey may reveal that Bejar reveres Prefab Sprout. Check it out below and compare to the Prefab Sprout samples at bottom.

Sky’s Grey strikes us as foreboding commentary about the current American administration and its “base”: “Bombs in the city, plays in the sticks,” and “Come one, come all, dear young revolutionary capitalists, the groom’s in the gutter, the bride just pissed herself, I’ve been working on the new Oliver Twist.” Regardless, the song plays well to the base in our environs.

Bejar explains the inspiration for the album’s title:

“Sometime last year, I discovered that the original name for ‘The Wild Ones’ (one of the great English-language ballads of the last 100 years or so) was ‘Ken’. I had an epiphany, I was physically struck by this information. In an attempt to hold on to this feeling, I decided to lift the original title of that song and use it for my own purposes. It’s unclear to me what that purpose is, or what the connection is. I was not thinking about Suede when making this record. I was thinking about the last few years of the Thatcher era. Those were the years when music first really came at me like a sickness, I had it bad. Maybe ‘The Wild Ones’ speaks to that feeling, probably why Suede made no sense in America. I think ‘ken’ also means ‘to know.’”

You can pre-order ken HERE.

24
Aug

Listen to Evocative New Song “Brassy Sun” By S. Carey (Bon Iver)

in Music

Comments closed Comments

S. Carey is the gifted multi-instrumentalist/songwriter cohort of Justin Vernon in Bon Iver. We have been Carey fans since his fantastic first solo album in 2010. Since then Carey has ever-added to the Bon Iver largesse while releasing his own superb recordings, including 2015’s Supermoon EP and his much-lauded 2014 album Range Of Light.

Carey has now released new song Brassy Sun, which he recorded for Will Arnett’s series Flaked on Netflix. In contrast to the TV series’ comedy, Brassy Sun is a song sung blue that is contemplative and questioning and framed in a rending melody. We hear echoes of Vernon, the Dessner Twins and Sufjan Stevens wrapped up in one. We love everything about it, but especially the harmonies on the “Where have I been?” refrain. We look forward to next year’s forecasted solo album.  Listen to Brassy Sun below.

21
Aug

Watch Iron & Wine Winningly Perform New Songs and Old on CBS This Morning

in Music

Comments closed Comments

This coming Friday Iron & Wine will release its highly-anticipated new album, Beast Epic, on Sub Pop Record. On Saturday the band (leader Sam Beam on vocals/guitar, Sebastian Steinberg on bass, Teddy Rankin-Parker on cello and two fantastic female backup vocalists on percussion and keys) performed three stellar songs on CBS This Morning. The performances and songs on the upcoming album lend further support for our belief Sam Beam is one of our best songwriters, performers and lyricists of all time.

Watch below as the band gives pristine performances of the eloquent Call It Dreaming and Thomas County Law off Beast Epic, followed by 2002 deep cut Call Your Boys. You can pick up the unbeastly Beast Epic HERE.

Iron & Wine will head out on tour this weekend in support of Beast Epic, eventually making their way to California in October. Check out the dates and get tickets HERE.

17
Aug

Suckers For The Sound: Check Out New Julien Baker Song “Appointments” From Impending Album

in Music

Comments closed Comments

We’ve loved the weighty-waif Julien Baker for quite some time (since her Sprained Ankle first alighted). She’s about to release her second album entitled Turn Out the Lights. Baker today shared her first new song Appointments from the album (lyrics at bottom), and we are fully appointed and at attention. Listen in below. As frequently heard from Baker, the song is confessional and revealingly raven, but with a corona-glimmer escaping the total eclipse. The new album will be released on October 27th courtesy of Matador Records. This is a bigger sound than we have heard from Baker. And thank God for that. Go big or….go to your other appointment.

You can pre-order Turn Out The Lights HERE.

“I’m staying in tonight
I won’t stop you from leaving
I know that I’m not what you wanted
Am I?

Wanted someone who I used to be like
Now you think I’m not trying
Well, don’t argue it’s not worth the effort to lie
You don’t want to bring it up
And I already know how we look
You don’t have to remind me so much
How I disappoint you
It’s just that I talked to somebody again
That knows how to help me get better
Until then I should just try not to miss anymore
Appointments

I think if I ruin this
That I know I can live with it
Nothing turns out like I pictured it
Maybe the emptiness is just a lesson in canvases
I think if I fail again
That I know you’re still listening
Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright
And I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is

I have to believe that it is
I have to believe that it is
(I have to believe it, I have to believe it)
I have to believe that it is
(Probably not, but I have to believe that it is)

And when I tell you that you that it is
Oh, it’s not for my benefit
Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright
Oh, I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is”

15
Aug

In the Wake of Charlottesville, Wilco Releases “All Lives, You Say?” And Raises Money For Southern Poverty Law Center

in Music

Comments closed Comments

The far better part of America has been shaken to the core by the hatred, rascism and violence exhibited in Charlottesville last weekend. In its wake, Wilco today released the plaintive track All Lives You Say? with all proceeds from the song to go to the Southern Poverty Law Center in the memory of Jeff Tweedy’s father Robert L. Tweedy, who passed away earlier this month.

Tweedy said:

“My dad was named after a Civil War general, and he voted for Barack Obama twice,” Tweedy says in a statement. “He used to say ‘If you know better, you can do better.’ America — we know better. We can do better.” Amen.

Listen below and go donate to this good cause at Bandcamp. Done and done. Peace. Lyrics at bottom.

“All lives, all lives you say
I can see you are afraid
Your skin is so thin
Your heart has escaped
All lives, all lives you say

You were born at the end of a noose
What was up came down with your blues
But you don’t know how to sing anything anyway
So all lives, all lives you say

My mind, my mind is gone
It’s too hard for me to know when I’m wrong
This is the last dying gasp of a deadly lung
Turning blue on a lawn in the sun”

12
Aug

Watch Aimee Mann and Band Perform Crazy-Good “Patient Zero” on Conan

in Music

Comments closed Comments

Aimee Mann‘s crazy-good album Mental Illness remains one of our Best Albums of 2017. The roundly-praised album is perfectly produced and arranged, and is filled with memorable melodies and adroit vignettes of this majorly mental, modern life. Among our Best Songs of 2017 from the album is the heart-rending, socially-anxious Goose Snow Cone and the masterful  Patient Zero. This week Mann, co-writer and harmonist Jonathan Coulton and pizzicato-plucking ensemble showed up on Conan to killing-ly perform Patient Zero. The performance is a great reminder of the song’s well-honed lyrics, producer Paul Bryan’s string arrangement, and all as adroitly delivered by Mann, Coulton and the workers on the string-gang on Conan.

Mann discussed the song on the always illuminating Song Exploder podcast. As explained there, Mann originally wrote the crushed-Hollywood-hopes song after meeting then Hollywood-newcomer Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, Silence, Hacksaw Ridge). As she evidently often does, Mann initially framed the song as a waltz, before sending it to pal Coulton for re-imagining. Coulton waltzed it up to 4/4 time and introduced some new melodies and added the “lights of the canyon” chorus [Ed.: wouldn’t “stars of the canyon” have made more sense contextually?]. Regardless, it’s a great song worthy of Mann’s much-loved Elliott Smith.

Watch the performance below, and afterwards check out the official video for the song and the song’s lyrics at bottom.

You can pick up Mental Illness HERE.

Patient Zero:

“They served you champagne like a hero
When you landed, someone carried your bag
From here on out, you’re patient zero
Smelling ether as they hand you the rag

Life is good
You look around and think
I’m in the right neighborhood
But, honey, you just moved in
Life is grand
And wouldn’t you like
To have it go as planned?
Go as planned

Hip hip hooray, hocus pocus
With some magic you can fly through the air
But when you’re the guy pulling focus
There are people who will wish you weren’t there

Life is good
You look around and think
I’m in the right neighborhood
But, honey, you just moved in
Life is grand
And wouldn’t you like
To have it go as planned?
Go as planned

Go west, young man
Go west, take a real screen test
Doesn’t count as a job well done
The locusts had their day
The suckers pay and pay
Carmen Sternwood probably pulled that trigger for funAnd in the hills where hope is such a constant companion
Close enough to almost touch the lights of the canyon
The lights of the canyonBut news filtered over the transom
That a villain ended up with the part
You paid your respects like a ransom
To a moment that was doomed from the startLife is good
You look around and think
I’m in the right neighborhood
But, honey, you don’t belong
Life is grand
And wouldn’t you like
To have it go as planned?
Go as planned

And in the hills where hope is such a constant companion
Close enough to almost touch the lights of the canyon
The lights of the canyon
The lights of the canyon
The lights of the canyon
The lights of the canyon”

9
Aug

Check Out The Electricity of The Smith Street Band Through Song “25”

in Music

Comments closed Comments

As the great Woody Guthrie once told musicologist Alan Lomax: “Music is some kind of electricity that makes a radio out of a man.” We have heard that played out well in song over time (U2, The Clash, Radiohead, The National, Elvis Costello (most appropriately), etc.). More recently we’ve heard it in the likes of Mondo Cozmo, Car Seat Headrest and Australia’s The Smith Street Band.

Check out below The Smith Street Band‘s rousing song 25 off of their critically-acclaimed 2017 album More Scared of You Than You Are of Me on Poolhouse Records.  With its I Will Follow opening and singer Wil Wagner’s punched-up delivery, we hear the electricity that makes a radio out of Wagner.

You can buy/stream the worthwhile More Scared of You Than You Are of Me HERE.

The Smith Street Band is coincidentally embarking on a North American tour that starts a week from Friday in San Diego, then Los Angeles and San Francisco, and other North American parts, before returning to LA’s cool venue The High Hat on September 19th.  Don’t ya miss ’em! You can get tickets HERE for their tour.

“It was so cold in the top room
But I didn’t wanna risk waking you
So I let it sit in my feet and my fingers
With everything I burn the dull ache it lingers
And I don’t know if I’ll be able to complete
What other people do each day without noticing
And I don’t know if I’ll be able to compete
With when I feel these days about almost everything

One bad week for a life of breathing
A few nights lay awake for an eternity of sleeping
I wanna feel it now
Cough me in, breathe me in and spit me out

I am someone in your passenger seat
I’m your punching bag
I will let you kick the shit outta me
And I’ll hold your hand
I’ll be whatever you tell me to be
And I’ll understand

Breathing out cold air in my own house
And wondering why I couldn’t afford a solution to that by now
And I’m sure everything seems romantic
In reality it’s uncomfortable to deal with

Falling asleep every other afternoon
To the sound of being alone
And having nothing to do
And I’m sure moving in
Straight away made you feel safe
But it probably wasn’t great for my mental state

And one bad week for a life of breathing
A few nights lay awake for an eternity of sleeping
I wanna feel it now
Cough me in, breathe me in and spit me out

I am someone in your passenger seat
I’m your punching bag
I will let you kick the shit outta me
While I hold your hand
I’ll be whatever you tell me to be
And I’ll understand

If I can’t see a future for you without evil
A future for me without you will, only make it better
So I start hoping, that I stop smoking
Because the ducks are in a row and
This is my best chance to get my shit together

When I turned 25 I was terrified
Still haven’t learnt to do the dishes
My mum was my age when I became alive
So I stopped hoping and I quit smoking
Because the writing’s on the wall
And it’s been there for a while
And it sure is nice to remember things yeah

I am someone in your passenger seat
I’m your punching bag
I’ll let you kick the living shit outta me
And I’ll hold your hand
I am whatever you tell me to be
And I’ll understand”

8
Aug

Listen to The National’s New Song “Carin At The Liquor Store”

in Music

Comments closed Comments

One month from today longtime Lefort-faves The National will release their highly-anticipated next album Sleep Well Beast. So far we’ve sampled two phenomenal tracks from the album: The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness and Guilty Party. Catchy. Evolving. All stations go. Let ‘er rip.

But wait. Now comes newly-released song Carin at the Liquor Store, and we’re a bit perplexed. Listen below. While the song touches all The National ballad bases (forlorn piano ruminations, Matt Berninger’s signature mourn, etc.) and even adds on more Dessner-guitar exhibitions, we just can’t sink our teeth into anything meaningful in the song’s lyrics (at bottom). Some of it is that it doesn’t evoke much from behind its oblique elusions (and we’re fans of lyrical vagueness). And some of it is that this territory (infatuation, complicated by crass-behavior and self-doubt) seems to have been mined before by Berninger to better effect. For a band and lyricist that have made such emotional marks with us, it’s a rare disappointment. Nous aimons ça, mais non trop. You may hear the song differently–if so, do tell. Here’s hoping for more meat on the album’s remaining song-bones.

Sleep Well Beast will be released September 8th on 4AD. You can pre-order the album HERE.

“I was a war, I was a creature
I get on the ground the second I’d see you
You cannot come buy your love
I wasn’t a catch, I wasn’t a keeper
I was walking around like I was the one who found dead John Cheever
Hand in glove

So blame it on me
I really don’t care
It’s a foregone conclusion

I see you in stations and on invitations
You’d fall into rivers with friends on the weekends
Innocent skies above
Carin at the liquor store, I can’t wait to see you
I’m walking around like I was the one who found dead John Cheever
In the house of love

So blame it on me
I really don’t care
It’s a foregone conclusion
It wasn’t so bad, I wasn’t that sick
Got taken by love, I wasn’t that quick
Foregone conclusion
It’s gonna be different after tonight
You’re gonna see me in a different light
It’s a foregone conclusion

So blame it on me
I really don’t care
It’s a foregone conclusion
I’m already seeing stars in the air
It’s a foregone conclusion”

7
Aug

Watch Spoon’s Stripped-Down Performance of “Hot Thoughts” on Studio Q

in Music

Comments closed Comments

Almost without exception, when artists strip down and de-husk songs the remaining kernel reveals so much more about the song’s spark. Such is the case with Spoon’s performance below of Hot Thoughts for Canada’s Studio Q. Check out the redacted guitar-and-percussion treatment (minus Producer Dave Fridmann’s strings and bells), all of which helps to emphasize Britt Daniels’ telling Prince-inspired mien (lyrics at bottom). Hot Thoughts is the title track from Spoon’s critically-acclaimed recent album. You can buy/stream it HERE.

Britt Daniel told Esquire that a Japanese kid in Shibuya hitting on his girlfriend with this line was what inspired Hot Thoughts: “He was smoking a cigarette, and couldn’t really speak English, but was pointing to her teeth and saying her teeth were so sexy and bright. And I thought that was a pretty far out, maybe desperate but funny way of hitting on her.” Ah, new love and the omnipresent interceptors.

“Hot thoughts melt in my mind
Could be your accent mixing with mine
You got me uptight, twisting inside
Hot thoughts all in my mind and all of the time, babe

Hot thoughts all in my mind and all of the time, yeah
Hot thoughts all in, all in my mind all of the time
(Woo!)

Your teeth shining so white
Light up this side street in Shibuya tonight
Hot thoughts melting my cool
Is it your motion signaling cues
Hot thoughts all in my mind and all of the time
You must be trouble for sure

Hot thoughts all in my mind and all of the time, yeah
(Oh oh, oh oh oh)
I tell it to you slow when I want you to know
(Oh oh, oh oh oh)
Hot thoughts all in, all in my mind all of the time

Took time off from my kingdom
Took a break from the war
Took time off from my kingdom
Raise up my creatures
Diamonds from space
Pure facets and features
Last drag drug from your lips
Making you think how good it was to let baby kiss ’em
And those hot thoughts melting your cool
(All on my mind and all of the time)
Could be that motion signaling cues
You’ve got

Hot thoughts all in your mind all of the time, yeah
(Oh oh, oh oh oh)
All that do my rhyme maketh you mine, yeah
(Oh oh, oh oh oh)
You know, I think all, I think all your love is enough”