February, 2015 Archives


Listen to New Sufjan Stevens Song “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross”

by Lefort in Music

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As mentioned previously, Sufjan Stevens will release in March his new album entitled Carrie & Lowell.  Today Stevens released a harrowing vignette from the impending album. Check out new track No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross.  Many will welcome the return of “the old Sufjan sound.”  Hopefully they’ll embrace again a questioning, mournful soul who’s not afraid to drop an f-bomb when faced with the loss of a parent (in this case, Stevens’ mother).  We love everything about the song.  The song’s lyrics follow at bottom.

“Now that I fell into your arms
My only lover
Give out to give in
I search for the capsule I lost

Drag me to hell
In the valley of The Dalles
Like my mother
Give wings to a stone
It’s only the shadow of a cross

I slept on my back
In the shade of the meadowlark
Like a champion
Get drunk to get laid
I take one more hit when you depart

I’ll drive that stake through the center of my heart
Lonely vampire
Inhaling its fire
I’m chasing the dragon too far

There’s blood on that blade
Fuck me, I’m falling apart
My assassin
Like Casper the ghost
There’s no shade in the shadow of the cross”


On Sunday: Watch Sam Baker Perform “Odessa” on eTown

by Lefort in Music

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We’ve been enamored with troubadour Sam Baker ever since we first laid our ears on his superb 2013 Say Grace album, which found its way to No. 11 in our Top 15 Albums of 2013Baker mines a deep vein of storytelling songs featuring finely-crafted lyrics.  It’s a vein that’s been worked so well by similarly-slanted predecessors such as John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and Tom WaitsSam Baker easily fits into their good company.

For another good sample of this gifted songwriter, check out the performance below (from Boulder’s laudable eTown) of his telling song Odessa.  In addition to telling a heart-breaking story of a wasted life, Odessa deftly melds in Stephen Foster’s song Hard Times.  The song is off Baker’s highly-regarded 2007 album Pretty World.  Do yourselves a favor and give Sam Baker more of your listening time.  The song’s worthy lyrics follow at bottom.

“He was an Odessa boy with a daddy in the money
He played for mojo back in the boom
Drove a Corvette
Took what he wanted
People learned to give him lots of room

Well he never learned to work
But that never really mattered
Cause the dark crude flowed
The wild oats scattered
Dark crude flowed
He fought, he flattered
And he got what he wanted
It was the only thing that mattered

Well life was easy
The big jacks pumped
Pulling cash from the permian field
Cabinets full of high-grade scotch
Garage full of high-speed steel


Then he killed a girl when he rolled the Corvette
Daddy’s money made her lawyers go away
His mother bought vodka with all that cash
She kind of knew
Yeah she kind of knew

Well he’s an old man now
lives on his dead Daddy’s place
Never took a wife
He’s gonna die without a trace
See he loved the girl who was penned in the ‘vette
He talks to her everyday
Her face was blood and diamonds
He remembers her that way.


There’s a pale droopy maiden who toiled her life away
With a worn heart, whose better days are o’er.
Though her voice it would be merry, ’tis sighin’ all the day,
Oh, hard times, come again no more.”


The Best of the Week: Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker The Berry” and Chabon’s Commentary

by Lefort in Music

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We tried so hard to resist the assault this week of Kendrick Lamar’s new song The Blacker The Berry. But in the end, we’ve capitulated completely. Between the venom and the vernacular, Kendrick continues his domination of the darkness and the light (euphemisms, each).  But at 4:13-4:34 below, Lamar simply let’s loose.  Bound to cause some controversies.  Bound to result in some incisive, off-color commentaries such as Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Michael Chabon’s HERE.


10 Years of MusicNOW: Listen to “Sounds of the South” (Justin Vernon, Sharon Van Etten, Megafaun and Matthew E. White) Cover “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations”

by Lefort in Music

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At least once a year we sincerely wish we hailed from Cincinnati or parts nearby.  Each year for the past ten years, Bryce Dessner of The National and his musical cohorts have put on the highly-regarded MusicNOW Festival in Dessner’s native Cincinnati.  This year MusicNOW will celebrate its 10th year from March 11-15.  To celebrate the occasion, the album MusicNOW-10 Years will be released on March 10th to highlight some of best moments from the Festival.

Amongst others, the 16- track album highlights festival-only performances such as Justin Vernon’s cover of Sharon Van Etten’s Love More, Grizzly Bear’s While You Wait for the Others, the premiere of Sufjan Stevens’ The Owl & The Tanager, as well as other collaborations featuring Justin Vernon, Sharon van Etten, Owen Pallet and Dirty Projectors.  You can view the entire tracklist at bottom.

Today, MusicNOW has offered up for our listening pleasure the Sounds of the South’s track Trials, Troubles, Tribulations (an American bluegrass gospel song written by Estil C. Ball) featuring Sharon Van Etten, Justin Vernon, Matthew E White, Megafaun, and Fight the Big Bull.  Check it out below.

To pre-order the album, including vinyl, go HERE.

For the full MusicNOW Festival schedule and more details go HERE.

MusicNOW – 10 Years – Tracklist:

Sounds of the South “Trials, Troubles, Tribulations”
Sufjan Stevens “The Owl & The Tanager”
eighth blackbird “Omie Wise”
My Brightest Diamond “I Have Never Loved Someone”
Dirty Projectors “Emblem Of The World”
Tinariwen “Imidiwan Ma Tenam”
Tim Hecker “Chimeras (Live) 2011”
Colin Stetson “Nobu Take”
Owen Pallett “E Is For Estranged”
Erik Friedlander “Airstream Envy”
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy “Love Comes to Me”
Grizzly Bear “While You Wait For The Others”
The Books with Clogs “Classy Penguin”
Andrew Bird “Section 8 City”
Justin Vernon “Love More”


Stream Fantastic New Live Phosphorescent Album “Live at the Music Hall”

by Lefort in Music

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In a fit of December-pique, we proclaimed that the new live Phosphorescent album, Live at the Music Hall, would be the Best Album of 2015 based almost solely on the first release from the album, the ridiculously great track Los Angeles.  Now’s your chance to assess whether we were premature in our assessment.  Given leader Matthew Houck’s track record and performance acumen, there’s no way we’re far off.  The new album will be released on February 17th through Dead Oceans. In anticipation, the album is streaming in its entirety below.

The 19-track album was recorded at the band’s four-night stand at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn in December 2013, and is evidently inspired by Bob Dylan’s live recording, Hard Rain.  The new album’s songs span most of the band’s career.

Check it out below in its entirety.

Live at the Music Hall Tracklist:

01. Sun Arise! (An Invocation, An Introduction)
02. A New Anhedonia
03. Terror In The Canyons (The Wounded Master)
04. The Quotidian Beasts
05. Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)
06. Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly)
07. Dead Heart
08. Down To Go
09. Song For Zula
10. Ride On / Right ON
11. A Picture of Our Torn Up Praise (Solo)
12. Muchacho’s Tune (Solo)
13. Wolves (Solo)
14. Joe Tex, These Taming Blues
15. Los Angeles
16. A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise
17. South (Of America)
18. Wolves
19. At Death, A Proclamation


Watch Two Neil Youngs and One Neil Young (with The Roots) on Fallon

by Lefort in Music

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We’ve never hid our lifelong love of the soul-stirring music of Neil Young.  So last night’s Tonight Show episode was a classic for us.  First, Jimmy Fallon did his great impersonation of Young, only to be joined mid-song by Young, on the classic Old Man.  If this Tonight Show gig doesn’t work out for Fallon, perhaps he can join Young and tour together.

But then true magic ensued when Young took over the stage with The Roots, a horn section and backup singers for a super-powerful version of his new song, the socially-emphatic Who’s Gonna Stand Up?, from his latest album, Storytone.  Power in spades!  Listen up people.

Young also sat down for an interview to discuss Bradley Cooper’s (errant) air-guitar performance of Young’s Down by the River on the Tonight Show, as well as (what else) the music player PONO.

Check ’em out sequentially below. A great night for great music on the Tonight Show.


Listen to “New” Song “Friendship” from Pops Staples

by Lefort in Music

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Before the legendary Pops Staples (Staples Family) passed in 2000, he left to his daughter, the great Mavis Staples, a collection of incomplete songs he’d written.  After all these years, the result of Mavis’s curation of that collection is the new album Don’t Lose This, which will come out sometime this year.  Finally!  We can’t imagine a better celebration of what would have been Pops’ centennial birthday this past December.  Today, Mavis (with the help of Jeff Tweedy) has released the first sample (which will undoubtedly become a music staple, if you will).  Check out below the comforting track, Friendship. We love this song’s encouragement of lifetime friendships. It’s quintessential Pops, with wise, calming vocals burnished with Al Green-esque flourishes.  Ms. Mavis, together with her sisters Yvonne and Cleotha Staples, add perfect harmonies on the song.  Jeff Tweedy plays bass and his son Spencer plays the drums.  It’s a beauty:  simple but heartfelt, and powerful beyond Pops’ nonchalant inflections.   Bodes incredibly well for the entire album.  We can’t wait!


Watch Belle & Sebastian on KCRW

by Lefort in Music

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Glasgow’s intelligent-pop maestros Belle & Sebastian have just released their critically-acclaimed new album Girls in Peacetime Just Want to Dance, and are off and running in support.  Watch below as the band regales  a live KCRW audience. with the album’s first single, The Party Line.  The ’80s are back!  If you have time, afterwards check out their entire Apogee Sessions set for KCRW.

The entire Apogee Sessions setlist is as follows:

The Party Line
Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie
The Power Of Three
My Wandering Days Are Over
Perfect Couples
Fox In The Snow
Nobody’s Empire
Sleep the Clock Around


Watch D’Angelo on Saturday Night Live

by Lefort in Music

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D’Angelo is back with his long-awaited, much-vaunted third album, Black Messiah.  Last night, performing for the fist time in support of the album, D’Angelo and crew performed on Saturday Night Live.  Check out below as D’Angelo and his backup ensemble The Vanguard (including  drummer John Backwell, bassist Pino Palladino of The Who, and guitarist Jesse Johnson of The Time) deftly regaled with performances of Really Love and The Charade.  With the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin ghosting the stage, the latter was particularly powerful with its built-upon amalgam of Prince, Isleys and, yes, even Joni Mitchellisms (to begin) to go with the lyrical onslaught.  Intelligent, superb work from a master.

D’Angelo plays the Apollo Theater on February 7th and then stretches out in Europe after (see below).

D’Angelo 2015 Tour Dates:
02/07 – New York, NY @ Apollo Theater
02/11 – Zurich, CH @ Volkshaus Zurich
02/12 – Frankfurt, DE @ Hugenottenhalle
02/14 – Berlin, DE @ Halle
02/16 – Paris, FR @ Palais Des Congres
02/17 – Birmingham, UK @ O2 Academy Birmingham
02/18 – Manchester, UK @ Apollo
02/20 – London, UK @ Apollo
02/21 – London, UK @ Apollo
02/24 – Hamburg, DE @ Docks
02/25 – Frederiksberg, DK @ Falconer Salen
02/27 – Oslo, NO @ Sentrum Scene
02/28 – Stockholm, SE @ Annexet
03/02 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
03/03 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
03/04 – Utrecht, NL @ Tivoli
03/06 – Koln, DE @ Tanzbrunnen
03/07 – Brussels, BE @ Forest National