You can tell that Yeasayer is about to get big, because Pitchfork has turned on them. The Brooklyn psychedelic pop band has been respected and critically acclaimed for years, but they have always lacked mainstream notoriety. The prognosticators at Pitchfork apparently are convinced that Yeasayer is going to crossover soon, and therefore considered it their duty to spurn the band like a disloyal lover.
For those not familiar with Pitchfork Media, they consider themselves musical tastemakers but really they are nothing but uber-hipsters. The writers at Pitchfork only rave about indie bands’ debut albums so they can come back later, stroke their ironic mustaches, call their sophomore album disappointing, and state that the band isn’t as good as it used to be. Read more…
You love Katy Perry’s boobs, I love Katy Perry’s boobs, and Katy certainly loves them, but not everyone feels the same. There is one party that is less than enamored with the singer’s greatest assets: her insurer. Well, okay, there are actually two, if you count your girlfriend.
Ms. Perry’s insurer is worried that the bras she wears onstage pose potential health risks. You see, Katy Perry’s breasts are the biggest part of her act. Her boobs shoot whipped cream, shoot fireworks, sell 11 million records, sell magazines, and can even make Elmo scandalous. She’s like a mammary MacGyver. It seems that there is nothing Katy Perry’s boobs cannot do. Read more…
Yesterday, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opened in theaters nationwide. The movie stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley (in a rare non-period piece) as two people looking to make the most of their last days on Earth.
You see, an asteroid is going to hit Earth and destroy the planet, because for some reason NASA doesn’t have any oil drillers handy to blow it up (where the hell are you when we need you, Bruce Willis?). Carell, I imagine, is a 40-plus-year-old guy still trying to lose his virginity before the world ends. As for Knightley, she’s just glad she doesn’t have to spend her last few days wearing a corset.
If the title of the movie sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It is taken from a line in the Chris Cornell song “Preaching the End of the World,” off his criminally underrated solo debut Euphoria Morning. Here’s hoping the film is better than the last movie named after a Chris Cornell song. The 1996 romantic comedy Feeling Minnesota, starring Keanu Reeves and Cameron Diaz, was named after a line in the Soundgarden song “Outshined.”
If there’s any justice in the world, it’s only a matter of time before Grace Potter & the Nocturnals become a household name. With the band’s infectious blues-rock riffage, Potter’s powerful vocals and — let’s be honest — her supermodel good looks, what’s not to like?
2010’s self-titled album was Potter’s biggest seller to date, peaking at #19 on the Billboard 200, thanks in part to the ridiculously catchy “Paris,” a sexy rocker that had us all saying “ooh la la.”
The upcoming Grace Potter & the Nocturnals album, The Lion the Beast the Beat, will be released June 12. I received an advance copy to review for Glide Magazine and I can tell you that it is everything we expect from a Grace Potter album and more.
When all is said and done, I expect this album’s sales to dwarf that of their eponymous release. I will publish a full review soon, but for now enjoy the first single, “Never Go Back.” I challenge you to crank this up and not sing along.
Update June 11:
My full review of The Lion The Beast The Beat can be read here.
Chris Burns: Out of the Well
By Jeremy Lukens
In the five years since his debut EP, CB Radio, Chris Burns has transformed from a loop pedal-wielding solo musician to frontman of a full band. The inherent risk in such a change is to go from a raw, intimate sound to overproduced pop alchemy. In the case of Burns’ full-length debut, Out of the Well, those pitfalls are largely avoided. Though “Skeleton” is more powerful in a stripped single-guitar format and “Every Fool’s Been Here” could do without the horn flourishes, overall the album is an eclectic collection of pop gems.
Stylistically Burns’ music is an assault on the acoustic fretboard, with punchy staccato rhythms and hammered arpeggios. The addition of a full band fleshes out the sound, adding a worldly thump and jazz flourishes. On “Skeleton,” the skeleton in a man’s closet tells him “I think that it may be time for you to let me out.” Out of the Well is in large part Burns doing exactly that, purging the feelings haunting his soul via pen and six-string.
The album is rich with themes of love, faith, and the exorcising of personal demons. “Mother’s Day” finds Burns struggling through life without his late mother, haunted by “the silhouette of a lifetime that’s never coming back.” The blues-tinged “Old” is a call to action, attacking excuses for apathy regarding the word’s problems. Those problems are brought to life with “Mission,” a track inspired by a trip to Malawi. Overwhelmed by the extreme poverty and illness, Burns pleads “how’s a broken man like me supposed to help God’s child?”
On the title track, Burns says that “life is a snapshot of your way home.” Out of the Well is a snapshot of the struggles encountered on a personal journey through a fallen world. Burns’ velveteen voice and warm guitar tone belie the hard truth that such a journey will have many dark chapters. As in the Andrew Hudgins poem from which the album takes its name, Burns shows that it is only when confronting that darkness that you can truly appreciate the light.
Jeremy is a music critic for Glide Magazine.
Last year was a bad year for indie rock, with two of the biggest bands calling it quits. The White Stripes (Jack White & Meg White) and LCD Soundsystem (basically just James Murphy) announced that their bands were retired. It was a bold move considering both acts were still in their prime.
Jack White has handled his post-White Stripes career pretty well. He cleverly avoided the pitfalls of reinventing himself or trying something “new” by going “solo” and recording an album that sounds “exactly like the White Stripes.” The lead single, “Love Interruption,” is an acoustic ballad, which is rare for the White Stripes, but it would not have sounded out of place on any of the former’s albums. The next track released is “Sixteen Saltines,” which sounds exactly like the White Stripes but with a bassist and better drums.
I respect Jack for doing the chivalrous thing and breaking up his former band. In leaving Meg behind, the band’s breakup was simply a nice way of saying “I’m tired of having a shitty drummer.” Starting a new project with a drummer that doesn’t need basic lessons sounds better than kicking his ex-wife out of the band and replacing her. So kudos to Jack White, the last gentleman in indie rock.
James Murphy’s post-LCD Soundsystem career is a bit different. He decided to take a break from making “good music” to experiment with making awful music. Again, it was a carefully planned strategy, as people would have complained about LCD Soundsystem making crap, but Gorillaz – well, crap is what they do.
Murphy collaborated with the Gorillaz and Andre 3000 on the track “DoYaThing,” fulfilling Murphy’s long-held dream of creating a 13-minute commercial for a sneaker company. The song has a great groove that is ideal for making white people like Murphy and cartoon characters like the Gorillaz dance. The only problem is that the lyrics sound like they were chosen at random by a kindergarten class assignment in an inner-city school where the students use a lot of profanity.
The song has a short version for those who don’t like 13-minute Converse commercials. In it, the most enlightening part is where Andre 3000 shows up and starts rapping. He starts by saying “new word: onomatopoeia… boom!” I think it’s great that Andre is expanding his vocabulary, but while this word is new to him, it’s actually been around since the 16th century. It’s then rhymed with “quit acting like you don’t want to be here.” He may have been talking to Murphy, but I only hope that there’s a remix where the line is “see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya,” since that actually rhymes better with onomatopoeia.
It was smart by Murphy and the Gorillaz to include Andre, because rhyming “juicy fruit” with “shplooshy-shploosh” and “bloop de bloop” with “duked duked” has more street cred if it sounds like a black man is saying it. With his section of the song, talking about “booty juice” and wondering “how come blacks don’t play baseball,” Andre reminds the world why he won a Grammy.
The 13-minute version of the song ends with Andre repeating “I’m shit,” but I feel he’s being too hard on himself. He’s learning new words and coming up with rhymes about bubble gum to sell sneakers. Not many Grammy-winning artists can say that.
Tuesday is a bit of a slow music day this week. Sure, if you like vanilla paint-by-numbers pop rock with a splash of pretense but without any inspiration, there’s a new Coldplay album! There is also — dear God, no — a new Toby Keith album as well as an album of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson covering songs from Disney movies. For the rest of us, though, there are a few to look out for. All of the good releases this week seem to have a folksy feel for some reason.
Tom Waits: Bad As Me
Waits is one of the most under-appreciated songwriters in the business, partly because of his adversity to publicity and touring. This is his first album of new material in 7 years. If it’s like most of Waits’ catalog, you will love some songs and cringe at others, but each will be a noble attempt at creating something great. Love him or hate him, Waits is always interesting.
She & Him: Christmas Album
America’s indie sweetheart, Zooey Deschanel, drops her third collaboration with M Ward here. She & Him’s warm melodies and vintage sound should be a perfect fit for the Christmas season. Even your biggest Grinch would warm up to the season if he had Zooey crooning to him. Hopefully then he wouldn’t kidnap her so she would have to sing for him every day (as a Grinch, you never know what to expect).
Honeyhoney: Billy Jack
Though still largely unknown, honeyhoney’s unique brand of folk rock is definitely worth a listen. Their debut album, First Rodeo, was one of my favorite releases of last year. Their sophomore release is said to have more of a bluegrass sound.
Deer Tick: Divine Providence
If you like indie folk, scratchy vocals and creative narrative storytelling, you will like Deer Tick. This is the fourth album by the band from Providence, Rhode Island. Unlike the blood-draining insect that is their namesake, Deer Tick does not suck.
Other Releases for October 25 (not recommended):
Coldplay: Mylo Xyloto
Brian Wilson: Disney Songbook
Drake: Take Care
Goapele: Break of Dawn
Justice: Audio Video Disco
Kelly Clarkson: Stronger
Kid Koala: Space Cadet
Michael Feinstein: Sinatra II
Orrin Hatch: Xmas
Paul Kelly: Songs from South
Peter Gabriel: Live
Roots Manuva: 4everrevolution
Russian Circles: Empros
Strange Boys: Live Music
Surfer Blood: Tarot Classics
Thomas Dolby: Map of Floating City
Toby Keith: Clancey’s Tavern
Vince Gill: Guitar Slinger