May, 2014 Archives


Watch St. Vincent on Saturday Night Live

by Lefort in Music

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We have yearned at times to perceive a pulse on Annie Clark (St. Vincent). There’s been no doubt she can play guitar, compose superb songs and sing with the best of them. It’s just that, well, we couldn’t at times find the human underneath the hubristic artistry.  Recently, with her soccer video and other vignettes, we’ve come around a bit on St. Vincent.  And her new eponymous album has seemed to push her popularity to new heights.  Her star continued to rise last night as she made her Saturday Night Live debut.

She throttled performances of Digital Witness and Birth in Reverse off the new album.  Check ’em both out below.


Watch Elbow Enthrall on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

by Lefort in Music

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One of our favorite bands and the current holders of the top-selling album on the British charts with their The Take Off and Landing Of Everything, Elbow appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night and absolutely enthralled with their magnificent delivery of New York Morning.  Check out the quintessential Elbow performance below wherein they build and build and then build some more from a modest opening motif.  Watch as Guy Garvey sings powerfully (not unlike his idol Peter Gabriel) and the band and backup singers fill the anthemic song to its full measure.  After check out Fallon’s brilliant online featurette, How We Wrote That Song, in which the artist provides the background of the song performed.

At bottom are the dates of their current North American tour before they had back to Europe and cap off their tour with yet another headlining set at Glastonbury.  We can’t wait to catch them in LA at the Wiltern Theater on May 28th.  Unbelievably, tickets remain for their Wiltern Theater and Oakland Fox Theater shows (mind you, they headline Glastonbury).  Get ’em now as they won’t last!  And especially after performances like last night on The Tonight Show.



New Jack White Coming–Listen to New Song “Just One Drink”

by Lefort in Music

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You’re either a Jack White fan or you ain’t.  We is.  Despite our misgivings about his predominant genre of choice (blues-based rock; generally been-there-done-that), White has always managed to set the genre on fire with intensity, inventiveness and heat (and not merely the canned variety).  Whether solo or as a part ofThe White Stripes or some other combustible band, White’s live performances can only be summed up as:  I-N-C-E-N-D-I-A-R-Y Long ago White re-invented blues-rock in a stripped down format, and begat a bandwagon of copycats (the primary example being the inexplicably popular Black Keys, who have added comparatively nothing of worth–just our unbridled opinion, Patrick Carney, since you’re being oh so honest these days).  Thankfully, he continues to carry the torch for the genre.

In case you’ve had your head in the sand or otherwise missed it, Mr. White will soon release his new album Lazaretto and today released another song from the album.  Check out Just One Drink below (via Rolling Stone), which sees White playing second fiddle in the violin-dominated song that reminds of early-70s Rolling Stones (circa Sticky Fingers or Exiles).  After, check out two other songs released from the album, the incendiary title track and the all-instrumental High Ball Stepper.  White’s second solo album officially arrives on June 10th via Third Man.  The album’s 11-song tracklist is below the songs, followed by current tour dates.


Lazaretto Tracklist:
01. Three Women
02. Lazaretto
03. Temporary Ground
04. Would You Fight For My Love?
05. High Ball Stepper
06. Just One Drink
07. Alone In My Home
08. Entitlement
09. That Black Bat Licorice
10. I Think I Found The Culprit
11. Want And Able

Jack White 2014 Tour Dates:
05/29 – Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom *
05/30 – Lubbock, TX @ Wild West *
05/31-06/01 – Houston, TX @ Free Press Summer Festival
06/02 – Shreveport, LA @ Municipal Auditorium *
06/03 – New Orleans, LA @ Saenger Theatre *
06/05 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte *
06/07 – New York, NY @ Governors Ball Music Festival
06/12-15 – Manchester, TN @ Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival
06/25-29 – Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Music Festival
06/26 – Dublin, IE @ Royal Hospital Kilmainham
06/29 – Paris, FR @ L’Olympia
06/30 – Paris, FR @ L’Olympia
07/03 – Amsterdam, NL @ Heineken Music Hall
07/04 – Gdynia, PL @ Open’er Festival
07/05 – London, UK @ Eventim Apollo
07/19 – Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Festival
07/20 – St. Louis, MO @ Fox Theatre &
07/21 – Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom &
07/23 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre &
07/24 – Chicago, IL @ Auditorium Theatre &
07/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE Outdoors &
07/28 – Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre &
07/30 – Detroit, MI @ Masonic Temple Theatre &
07/31 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre &
08/01-03 – Montreal, QC @ Osheaga Music & Arts Festival

* = w/ Kelley Stoltz
& = w/ Benjamin Booker



Listen to New Sharon Van Etten Song “Your Love Is Killing Me” From New Album

by Lefort in Music

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As we’ve written about repeatedly, Sharon Van Etten’s new album Are We There will soon arrive (on May 27th via Jagjaguwar), and it’s one of our mostly highly anticipated albums of 2014.  We’ve been privy previously to two new Van Amesome songs Taking Chances and Every Time The Sun Comes Up, and today she’s released another track entitled Your Love Is Killing Me.  As expected, it’s another musical mesmerizer.  Check it out below.


For Pachyderm and Music Lovers: Watch Damon Albarn’s Official Video for “Mr. Tembo” Off New Solo Album

by Lefort in Music

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As highlighted repeatedly on these pages, the all-time Damon Albarn has released his first solo album, Everyday Robots, and it is what we’ve come to expect from Mr. Albarn:  nothing short of fantastic.  Albarn has now released the official video for Mr. Tembo off the new album.  As you’ll see in the heartwarming video (which we can’t say we expected from Albarn), he convinced London’s Pentecostal City Mission Church Choir to help in this homage to an orphaned baby elephant he met on his travels in Africa.  Watch as Albarn leads the choir while video of an elephant is shown on a TV mixed with cartoons depicting the elephant’s habitat being overrun by humanity.  Albarn has said he hadn’t imagined ever recording a song about an elephant since he would normally save such a song for performing on “kids’ birthdays.”  Albarn told Rolling Stone he met the baby elephant in Mkomazi, Tanzania. “It was recently orphaned and walked onto this aerodrome; the people I know took it in and called it Mr. Tembo,” he said. “I was there, and I met this little elephant, and he was very sweet. I sang it to him. It was recorded on a phone, and in a light-hearted moment, I put it on a list for Richard [Russell, producer].”  Check it out below.  That’s two heartwarming videos today.  Enough of this feelgood.




Watch Janelle Monáe’s Anti-Bullying Video and Cover of Bowie’s “Heroes”

by Lefort in Music

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Janelle Monáe is finally having her way with the world.  And it is much-deserved.  She is simply the best female performer on the planet right now and a proper role model (Beyonce, not even close).  After Monáe‘s 2013 album Electric Lady rightfully received critical acclaim and popularity, she has gone on to light up stages around the world, including electrifying performances on Later With Jools Holland and at the White House (as a part of the Women of Soul program).  She also received this year’s Award for Achievement in Arts and Media from Harvard University.  And now she’s teamed up with Pepsi (due respect to the corporation, but people please drink water) for an anti-bullying video featuring her cover of David Bowie’s Heroes.  The video will air during the upcoming World Cup coverage this summer.  This heat got ya down?  Watch this video for some cooling uplift.  Asked by The Guardian if she needed Bowie’s permission to use his song, Monáe said: “Oh, he’s a fan. He’s aware of me. His wife Iman is a huge supporter and she has told me countless times what a big fan he is. So he had to clear me doing the song and I’m so grateful.”  Bowie’s still got good taste.  Check it out.


Listen To Helado Negro’s Heady Remix of Sylvan Esso’s “Coffee”

by Lefort in Music

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It’s been a caffeinated couple of months over at Chez Lefort.  As we’ve written repeatedly, we are hopeless addicted to the music of duo Sylvan Esso, and in particular their track Coffee.   Now, combine that great cut with a masterful remix by Helado Negro (whose track Dance Ghost was one of our favorite finds of last year) and you have a scintillating musical brew indeed.  About Helado Negro’s remix, Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sanborn told the New York Times:  “Hearing one of your own songs remixed is such a surreal experience. It can be both jarring and revelatory, but we loved it. Helado Negro’s version is such a beautiful, drifting, pastoral reinterpretation, and we couldn’t be happier.”  We couldn’t agree more.  Check it out below.


Watch Conor Oberst Perform New Song “Common Knowledge” Solo and Stream New Album “Upside Down Mountain”

by Lefort in Music

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It’s common knowledge that we would climb the steepest mountains (upside down or not) to listen to Conor Oberst sing his songs.   Whether as a part of Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Monsters of Folk or solo (backed by the Mystic Valley Band, The Felice Brothers, or–as now–Dawes), he spares no passion or energy in delivering his songs live.  His songs can melt or seethe you, in large part because Oberst is one of this country’s best songwriters (lyricists in particular).  He’s written many of the most powerful song cannons in the canon (you pick ’em, but we’ll take Lua or Poison Ivy at No. 1).  The great news for Oberst fans is that he will release a superb new album entitled Upside Down Mountain on Nonesuch on May 19th.  We have listened to it several times (full review to come) and, as you might imagine, it evinces maturity and wisdom while assaying life’s stages (not surprising given he’s 34, a prime life-assessment era) and transitioning through.  It’s intimate and poetic and features some of our favorites, including Blake Mills and First Aid Kit, in addition to a turn or two from frequent collaborators Mike Mogis and Nathan Walcott.  To top it off the album’s art work, including the cover painting, is by Ian Felice of the fabulous Felice Brothers (who have a new album Favorite Waitress out soon).

You can stream Upside Down Mountain over at NPR HERE.  And then go pre-order it HERE.

Oberst is now out on tour in support of the album and backed by Dawes, and you can see the dates and get your tickets HERE.

And finally, watch below as Oberst performs the last song off of the new album, Common Knowledge, for The Line of Best Fit.  It’s another gem and somewhat Lua-esque. The songs lyrics are at bottom.


Common Knowledge:

“He’s my friend, but he’s no friend to me
Ask him why, he’ll tell you casually
Washed up, bitter, broken, busted
Backstabbed anyone he trusted
Says he sees what no one else can see
If I had half his guts I’d want it
To chase that fatalistic comet
And die young in the dark, that’s poetry
But it was not to be
It was not for me

He’s always sad, but I’ve never seen him cry
When he comes too sure, he’ll apologize
Find his car, assess the damage
Still drunk but he likes a challenge
Holds onto his mind just like a kite
But a good strong wind will keep you honest
Fill you with some common knowledge
Things when we were young we never tried
Just figured we had time
With such a long life

Money clips, alligator shoes
One more dance, he’s in that champagne room
Where she moves like a chocolate fountain
Pouring, spilling all around him
Makes him wonder what else she could do
How bittersweet is love’s illusion
Feelings that cannot be proven
Trust me, you’ll see my aim is true
I’ve done this all for you
I suffered long for you

So many times he’s tried to play it straight
Worked and worked until his body ached
But a brand new life can lose its luster
Troubles tend to find each other
Call it luck or you can call it fate
But either way it’s how it happens
Not the way that you imagined
Or just go out with a bang like Hemingway
Some will say you’re brave
Some will say you ain’t”


Watch Jessica Lea Mayfield Killin’ Like Cobain

by Lefort in Music

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Jessica Lea Mayfield - Make My Head Sing (720px)

We’ve all had those ear-opening moments.  Like when you first heard Kurt Cobain’s vocals braying on Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit (for us, on a San Francisco on-ramp onto the Bay Bridge headed east).  Tapping into a similar source and vein these days is one of our favorite female artists, Jessica Lea Mayfield.

Despite putting out one of the Best Albums of 2011 in Tell Me and receiving deserved critical acclaim, Mayfield has been radio-silenced since that album and tour in support (we caught her last at the 2011 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival).  As we said about her in 2011, Mayfield molds great melodies and pens penetrating lyrics, and then delivers them with laconic vocals that remind us of Lucinda Williams coupled with Neko Case.  But after 2011 she disappeared for a time.

Thankfully, as mentioned in February, she’s now back with a vengeance and a new album entitled Make My Head Sing.  As you will see below, she’s broken out, unbridled, with a new twist that makes no effort to hide the influence of Cobain and Nirvana.  Gone are the softer, country-influenced elements, replaced by Jessica’s grungy guitar playing.  Check her out below on KDHX leading the way on the new album’s No Fun. After, check out her older gem, I Wanna Love You, revved up a bit compared to Tell Me’s approach. Mayfield heads out next month on a tour of North America (including Cali in June) and the tour dates/tickets can be found HERE.  And do go buy Make My Head Sing HERE


Watch Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile and Amanda Palmer Kill Cover Songs on “RocKwiz”–Aussie TV’s Music Trivia Game Show

by Lefort in Music

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A new discovery. RocKwiz is an Australian game show based around music trivia.  Each program features two musical celebrities (a great mix of knowns and unknowns) and four contestants who play off for nothing more than the honor of winning.  Each musical guest performs a song with the show’s band before joining together to close the show with a duet.  The cover songs performed on the show are a great mix of all-time greats and obscurities (yes, the two can often be the same–see the Everybody Moves performance below).  The performers also perform their own songs.  Now that’s a show we need in America!

The show seems to be gaining more traction as the likes of Kurt Vile (via Consequence of Sound), Courtney Barnett, Judy Collins, Kimbra, Jens Lekman, Amanda Palmer, Adrian Belew, Martha Wainwright, and Chet Faker, amongst a cast of thousands, have appeared on the show.  The three most compelling performances we quickly found from the show are Courtney Barnett and Dave Faulkner’s incredible cover of Died Pretty’s Everybody Moves (one of Australia’s lost nuggets), Kurt Vile’s cover of Neil Young’s Albuquerque and Amanda Palmer’s cover of The Motels’ Total Control.  Check ’em out below in that order, and wander over HERE for more.